Successful Project Management

Part 3: „Project Management as a Process“

Welcome back to the 3rd part of the blog series „Successful Project Management.“ Today’s topic is “Project Management as a Process.”

And now you may be thinking, “she only just started another blog series on project management, and now she’s coming at us with PROCESSES as well? As if PROCESS management were even a shade worse than PROJECT management … 😉

Project Management as a Process

Let me hasten to make something clear: don’t worry, we’re not about to jump into the depths of process management. That would be an entire chapter in itself (not to mention a whole blog series …  ) and will not be our main topic today.

BUT: project management in itself is always a process, too. And this you have to be aware of, if you want to manage projects successfully.

After Parts 1 and 2 in the blog series, which dealt with the pre-project phase, defining the project scope, contextualising the project and analysing the stakeholders, it’s now time to look at the actual project management process. This means from the project kick-off through to project wrap-up, with everything in between: controlling (at regular intervals), continuous coordination and marketing, through to possible project crises (hopefully not!) and the appropriate risk management.

To begin chronologically accurately, we’ll begin today with the project kick-off process.

Project kick-off is more important than you may think!

Project kick-off builds on the pre-project phase, which we heard about in the last blog articles. Here the first fruits we planted are harvested. This therefore means that the project goals have been agreed in detail, project plans have been drawn up in equal detail, the project organisation has been defined (i.e. project leader, core team, work package managers, etc.) and teambuilding has taken place.

You will also plan risk management measures to avoid and prevent crises, you may take the first marketing measures and ensure conclusive PM documentation.

Project commissioned – ready, set, go!

In most cases, at the latest this is when your project charter is signed and sealed. Presumably someone (internally or externally) commissions you to carry out the project. Is it you yourself? That’s good, too.

The aim of the project charter is to set up a professional agreement about the project’s most important „corner stones“ between the project owner and the project manager. This to avoid someone saying at a later date “we never discussed that!“

The project scope definition and the context analysis you did during the pre-project phase provide the basis for the project charter.

Thorough performance planning vs. rash actionism

The next step is thorough performance planning. This is what often happens: “OK, got it, we kind of know what it’s supposed to be about, so let’s just get started so this thing gets off the ground!”

NO – please, not like that! I know the problem all too well: time pressure, pressure to achieve, bosses who want to see results yesterday. It all leads to projects not being planned thoroughly (or worse, not even defined as projects in the first place!)

But believe me: thorough performance planning at the start of your project really makes work vastly easier in the long run. The more complex the project, the more important this planning is!

But attention: Flexibility and agility are called for, here too! Don’t become a slave to your planning, in case circumstances change in the course of the project!

And now, building on the project scope you previously defined, you structure your project into plannable and controllable units, and illustrate all activities in a structured way. Structured in the sense of a project structure plan. Because this is a sizable topic, I will introduce you to this in a separate article.

But still – here’s a sneak preview of what a project structure plan looks like. I’m using our simple example „Moving Appartment“ again:

In the next article in the series I will go into more detail on this as well as on the other project kick-off activities.

Until then, don’t forget: the project kick-off phase is just as important as the pre-project phase, and it pays to invest the necessary time in it, particularly the kick-off meeting which aims to put the project team into the “Big Picture” and get the project “on track” for everyone.

Interested in learning more about project management? Then simply click on the category „Project Management” in this blog, and read the other articles about it, e.g. also about kick-off meetings! There are already a number of reports about it as experienced in practice, and more helpful tips for your work as a project manager / coordinator!