Achieving operational or strategic goals in a project management way.
the biggest challenge for the
mid-management executives. They have to strike a balance between strategic and
operational demands. They have to stick to achieve their strategic goals when
operational activities are always pressing them for time and effort. Even
though the operational activities are always urgent and it is strategic
activities that are most important for the future of organization. Therefore,
it is important for managers to stay focussed and steadily move ahead to
achieve their strategic goals. But in practice, this is not easy.
Under the current recessional business
environment, organizations have started taking their strategic goals seriously.
These organizations realize that short term urgencies are overwhelming their
more important strategic focus. Operational urgencies will always be there but
digressions from strategic
objectives cannot be avoided. This belief
has led organizations to set up a Project Management Office (PMO) as a unit
which would plan, manage and monitor projects all
across the organization.
However, due to recessional factors not all organizations can set up a PMO or hire a dedicated
project manager to run the projects, even though it would be the best thing for
them to do. Under unavoidable
circumstances a progressive line manager would like to take the mantle of
organizing things in-house. However, due to inexperience or due to pressing
business need it is quite likely for them to get disoriented easily. Here are a
few tips that would help a non-project manager to manage the project and get
Initiate with setting an objective - The
first thing is to begin with by setting an objective. What do you want to achieve? Setting an objective will
ensure you and anyone who is involved, directly or indirectly, to
understand what you want to achieve.
This is your vision statement for
the project. Unless you have clear
vision you will never be able to set your
course in the right direction.
An objective has to be a crisply written
one line sentence, clearly defining what you
want to achieve. Below are two samples of objectives -
Sample 1 - Reduce total expenditure by 15%
within one year across organization.
Sample 2 - Document all
the processes for four departments by quarter end.
management into confidence - If you
are not the top boss you will have
to get the blessings of your immediate boss or higher-ups in the hierarchy.
Your management leaders are your
primary stakeholders. They are your
project sponsors. You need to brief them about your
intentions and final benefits. This is very important. If your management doesn't appreciate your intentions, they can easily pull the plug on your project and ruin your
effort at any point of time. Most projects die premature deaths because
management is unable to foresee any
Earn the confidence of all those who the project will impact - This process
is called stakeholder analysis.
Whoever is affected by your project
is a stakeholder in your project.
The effect of your project on them
can be positive or negative. You need to make an effort to convince them the
importance of project and the benefit it would bring to the organization and
eventually to them. You might need
to hold many workshops with them to earn their confidence. Let me assure you, this is not easy. There is always resistance
when people have to do things differently. They resist coming
out of their comfort zone. But for
the success of project you will have
influence to them, by motivation or by coercion.
Set a perimeter for your
project activities by defining scope - You need to articulate the scope of your project. Which means, you
need to specify what you are going
to do, and what you wouldn't do?
This will be like a constitution for you,
so that you don't digress from what you
During the course of the project, you might find so many very important items that you must include in the project which you had not included in the project when you conceived it. Let me tell you,
these seemingly important things might derail your
project. Almost every second project is marred by such important things and is
a reason for derailment of projects every day, across all
industries and across the world. Therefore, my sincere advice to you is, stick to your
project scope till you finish it.
You might start another project after completion
of the first where you can
incorporate other important requirements which you
have deferred in this project.
You need to plan and plan again - You need
to plan the sequence of activities, resources or material requirements to
achieve project objectives. Which activities to succeed another? What kind of
material you would need and when?
Which team member or resource you
want to involve throughout the project or do you
need them on certain occasions? What are those occasions and when are they
likely to occur? The more detailed the plan is, the better it is. However, a
project plan keeps evolving as you progress.
Don't get overwhelmed by desire to develop a perfect plan to initiate the next
step, make a base plan, review it
periodically and enhance it.
Delegate, as supermen are fictitious
characters - Let us admit, you
cannot do everything in your project
on your own. You would need a team
of specialists or generalists to help you
achieve your project actives.
Delegation is the key to your
project success. It is team work that will ensure quality and timely delivery of your
project. You need to identify team members at your
disposal and assign them tasks based on their competencies.
Some of your
team members might be capable of
performing multiple tasks and some
might be specialized. At the same time these project resources would be
performing their regular work as well. Therefore, you
need to make sure you are utilizing
their skills in the best way.
Actual execution of tasks as per plan- The
actual execution takes place when the team members perform their tasks as per
the project plan in order to meet project requirements.
Detailed requirements can be defined in the
beginning of your execution process.
You would like to elaborate your
scope of work to define the requirements. These project requirements may be
very elaborate or very concise, depending upon the project. However, these are
very critical for you to define, as
the success of your project delivery will be adjudged against these requirements.
As already mentioned earlier, there will be many important requirements which
were out of your initial scope, yet
now these seem important. You might feel excited to cover these requirements in
your current project or at times you might be pressured as well. Don't fall for them. These are scope creepers and would
derail your project. You might keep
an inventory of such requirements to be considered for future projects.
As the tasks are performed their quality
has to be monitored as well. You would like to know if individual tasks are
performed as per requirements and as per organizational standards or not. If individual
tasks do not meet the requirements, the overall
quality of the end result suffers. You might finish the project, but a project
with no quality will be meaningless.
Overtime, as a project manager you would monitor the project progress, communicate the status to stakeholders, adjust the
project plan, expedite some tasks or
delay some tasks. Your best ability
will be to deliver the project with
required quality and meeting all the
requirements, which are expectations from
the project, within allocated time
project bound by cost? - Often your
project will be tied to budget. You might have to achieve your project objective within the budget allocated to you.
With the allocated budget you would bear the cost of resource and material.
Finishing a project within budget can become
a big factor to your project
success. However, in a situation where cost management is key for project
success, if the project is very specialized, it
might not be suitable for a
novice project manager to handle, and it
will be better to hire a professional project manager for such projects.
holds the key to your success - Most
projects fail in dearth of communication.
Communication between you, the project manager, the stakeholders and
project team is essential. The communication
with the stakeholders will be determined by the size of stakeholders. Be it
over email, newsletters or direct meetings, whichever means you chose, you
need to make sure that you communicate with your
stakeholders periodically and
without fail during the entire length of the project, and the same with your team. However, you
will have to communicate with your team more frequently, maybe daily or even more
than once in a day appraising project progress, assigning roles and
responsibilities and adjusting the project plan.
Projects often succumb to unforeseen
obstacles - All projects are prone to risks, which can prevent projects
concluding or they conclude without achieving their objectives. Project risks
are diversified. Your project is at risk when your
team members are not diligent enough or do not turn up, your
stakeholders are not cooperative or the material you
purchased didn't turn up on time. It can be anything very simple or very big
but affects you to progress with your project. You need to identify such risks
proactively and make provision to tackle them in case they occur. You need to
create an alert mechanism which would help you
tackle such risks before they pull your
The project rollout - When you have successfully met all
the requirements of the project, it will be time for you
to roll out the project for the stakeholders to benefit from it directly.
are rolling out a new system for end users who are your
stakeholders, you might have to train
them for the usage of system. If your
project was to reduce expenditure by 15%, then your
management are your stakeholders. At
the end of the project, your
management will witness the success of the project by actual reduction in
expenditure. You would have to train your
colleagues to keep expenses low.
In any case you
will have to retrain your users to
perform their tasks differently from
what they have been doing earlier. Changing the user mindset is really a big task and quite critical for the project.
If your stakeholders are unable to perceive the benefit of your project and do not participate in rollout then your project will not take off. It might take some effort but let me assure you,
it's worth it.
There are various ways to accomplish goals that are set for you in an organizational environment. You might do
things randomly as they come. Your random
approach might have given you
results so far. But it is not certain that you
will get lucky all the time, especially when you
have to manage many parallel tasks.
There is a proven methodology of achieving targets. It is best for
professionals and professional organizations to use the time tested methods to
achieve their goals effectively.
There are various methodologies while
managing their projects. However, following the simple methods, as stated
above, will help non project managers achieve their strategic or operational
Hemanshu Joshi is a Dubai based project manager with total 12
years of IT experience in three core areas of Project Management, Presales and
Organizational Strategy. He has been invited to business schools to address MBA
students. He is a regular commentator
on PM Network, an international magazine published
by Project Management Institute (PMI). His recent articles are published at www.itp.net
2012 ITP Business Publishing Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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