A Realistic And Commercial Approach To Project Management
You probably want someone to just pick up your project or programme (made up of several projects) and go with it.
I will turn your ideas and initiatives into structured projects. The projects will have defined outcomes, mapping directly on to your specific business objectives.
On the rest of this page I outline the broad approach I take and some of the tools I use.
Realism backed up by professionalism
My baseline approach is to apply standard project management methods and techniques. Why? Because they have stood the test of time and have been shown to work.
I also make great use of project management checklists, templates (usually MS Excel or MS Word documents) and software (Microsoft Project along with other more specialist software if required).
Now of course I adapt the methods, techniques and tools I use to best fit each project. The point is that I know what I am adapting and why I am adapting it.
At its core, successful project management is really about good communications. It is estimated that project managers spend between 70% – 90% of their time engaged in some form of communication activity during projects. Research shows that communication is the biggest single differentiator between high performing project managers and the rest. Needless to say, I put a lot of effort into communicating regularly, concisely and honestly.
Project Management Methodologies
Like most I.T project managers I started out with the Waterfall methodology (Requirements, Analysis, Design, Coding, Testing and Implementation) although strictly this is less a project management methodology and more a software development process.
I do have a soft spot for the Praxis Framework. The fact that its a framework means it incorporates the high level principles found in the APM and PMI Bodies of Knowledge along with lower level techniques associated with particular methodologies (such as Prince II) and practices (such as Agile). The framework can be applied and adapted depending on the size and complexity of the project at hand.
Although I am a Prince II qualified practitioner, I must confess I have yet to meet a project which demands Prince II be applied in all its rigour. A key concept of Prince II is the notion of tailoring it to fit project requirements and I have done this, such as when implementing a new PMS system for an international law firm.
I find the principles of Prince II to be more useful than the detail, especially the principles of product based planning, quality management and good project governance (however the project governance is configured).
Project Management Templates and Software
As noted above I have a fund of checklists and templates which I use as baseline project documentation. Most small and medium sized projects with a small project teams can be managed perfectly well with Microsoft Office based templates and Microsoft Project.
I always bear in mind that the project is not about maintaining a fully comprehensive project file full of project documentation. Unfortunately it can be quite common for projects to be burdened by too much overhead of project documentation. Project documentation supports the project and I am a firm believer in keeping the project documentation light, so the focus remains on project deliverables.
There is a lot of specialized project management software available, ranging from small scale Kanban Boards to much more complex software catering for the needs of large programmes where component projects and their teams may be using differing methodologies. I have used a number project management software applications, and the use of any one of them is determined by the nature of the programme or project at hand.
I am also qualified in the product management of technology products and have served time acting as product manager.
In essence what product managers try to do is ensure that new products are designed and built to fit needs of the market. This sounds simple to do, but in practice it is not. All kinds of things can get in the way of building products which really meet market needs.
The point is, this principle of meeting market need is one that I apply in my project management work too. Projects are unique while products are not. Why go to the expense, time and effort of creating projects which do not benefit customers or clients in some way?