The phrase itself can be intimidating, and the certification may be a bit daunting; however project management is all about organization. It takes solid organization skills to plan, schedule, and track the success of a project no matter what the size.
This post is not for those holding a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This is a breakdown of basic project management skills for those who want to "wow" their employers no matter the role or career-level.
How To Plan A New Project
Before even mapping out your milestones, you need to evaluate several factors: benefits, risks, budget, and objectives.
- What problem does this project solve?
- What are the risks, and how likely are they to occur?
- What does your budget look like?
- What would you like to achieve, and how will you achieve it?
Create a Project Charter to identify the scope of the project, who has authority, milestone summaries, project budget, and funding sources if necessary. The scope of the project describes what problem it solves and any risks or problems that may arise. Summarize your milestones with deadlines too. You should include the date the project plan is completed and approved, the dates for each phase of development completed, launch date or date of implementations, and date of project completion.
How To Schedule Tasks For A New Project
Depending on the size of your project and how many people will be working on different tasks, you'll need a great way to assign tasks and monitor progress. Creating an Action Plan for a small scale project is a simple way to do this. First, you'll need to brainstorm and identify the tasks that you need to complete to reach each milestone. Analyze each task to see if you can drop any, delegate any to someone else, and prioritize for deadlines.
For larger projects, Gantt Charts are essential. To create a Gantt Chart, start by identifying all project phases and key milestones within each phase. Take a look at the tasks relationships. Which phases come before the others? Which phases overlap in the time sequence? Finally, identify who is responsible for each phase or task within that phase and assign them within the time sequence.
A typical Gantt Chart will show the time sequence (Week 1, Week 2, etc.) across the top row, the phases and milestones down the first column, and the responsible parties across the cells in blocks.
How To Monitor Project Progress
The simplest way to track your project's progress is to monitor your milestone completions. Some tasks will be added, dropped, and changed, so using your milestones to track progress is more reliable. Milestones mark significant events such as deliverables (results, products, etc.). You may even be asked to provide a report to show your progress.
Start with a Project Milestone Report. This can be a simple one or two-page report that identifies your milestones, describes your deliverables, identifies your due date and actual completion date, and your done/due ratio for completion (the number of completed milestones to number due to date).
Skills Needed To Be A Project Expert
There are several skills that a Project Manager needs to effectively do his or her job. If you want to really impress employers with your project management skills while not holding a Project Manager role, consider developing the following skills:
No matter the size of your project, you are going to need some help. Whether you are delegating a task or waiting on another department for information, you'll need to plan accordingly.
Your budget may only account for man-hours rather than expenses. Managing your time is equally as important as managing your actual budget.
A fair amount of people skills are required if you are leading and working with a team. If you want to get projects done successfully, you will need to listen to other ideas and rely on other contributors.
Tracking and Reporting
Tracking your project success is essential to project management. You need to be able to understand your project status, how much progress has been made, and how to communicate this information to others.
The unexpected can happen. It's essential that you are flexible and resourceful when plans change. You may need to make decisions on the spot as well.