Thursday, January 04, 2007

Project Management for Professionals - Implementing the Plan

Ten guidelines for effective negotiation:

  1. Be prepared - know what outcome you want and
  2. Minimise perceptual differences - ask questions to gain
  3. Listen - questions are no good unless you listen to the
  4. Take notes - what has been agreed and what remains to be
  5. Be creative - look for new solutions.
  6. Help the other party
  7. Make trade-offs - trade what is cheap to you but
    valuable to the other party for what is valuable to you but cheap to the other
  8. Be quick to apologise
  9. Avoid ultimatums
  10. Set realistic deadlines.

If you have followed the earlier steps, you should now have a well structured project plan along with the core team necessary to carry the plan out. We now move to implementation.

Key steps in implementing the Plan include:

a. maintaining clear project responsibilities.

The designated project manager is responsible for the overall project and must agree with any changes that affect project deliverables or costs. Similarly, those responsible for specific tasks are responsible for delivery of the tasks and must be made aware of any changes. Failure to maintain clear project responsibilities is a significant cause of project failure.

b. effective performance monitoring.

You need to know how the project is going in terms of quality, cost and time, so you need proper internal information flows and regular progress reports. These will vary from project to project but may include various reviews of progress against plan, review of problems encountered and the way they were handled, reviews of anticipated problems and of ways of handling them.

c. negotiating for material, supplies and services.

The importance of this one depends very much on the project itself. The three key variables are quality, cost and timeliness.

d. Problem resolution

In larger projects, a variety of difficulties may arise. Common strategies for resolving differences are:

  • Demanding
  • Problem Solving
  • Bargaining
  • Giving In

Each strategy has its place. Learning to distinguish among the various types of situations and adopting an approach that has the greatest chance of success in the long run is more effective overall.

No matter how good the project plan, problems will arise in implementation that will need to be sorted out. Common problems include:

i) Estimating errors. Any project plan includes assumptions, best estimates, in regard to time inputs, elapsed time, quantity and cost of other inputs. These need to be identified and resolved.

ii) Mispecification of relationships. All projects involve modules, sets of related tasks, linking with other modules in a variety of ways. These relationships have to be specified in advance and may prove to be in error. Again, it is important that any errors are identified as early as possible to allow maximum time for corrective action.

iii) Technical and commercial risk. Projects may involve significant technical or commercial risks. The more obvious ones are (should be) identified in the project plan. However, new ones may emerge as the project proceeds.

iv) Stakeholder conflict. Many projects involve a mix of sometimes competing interests. Even if these have been properly identified during the project definition and project planning stages, their resolution may not be easy.

d. ensuring that the client is kept fully informed.

Most projects involve a client. This holds even for internal projects. Reporting lines and processes need to be clearly specified.

Previous Posts in this Series

Note on Copyright

Material in this series is drawn from the Ndarala Group Short Guide to Project Management. The material is copyright Ndarala but may be reproduced and quoted with due acknowledgment.

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