Project Management 1
My Learning Process
For the last 3 years, I have involved in a lot of programs and projects from medical camp, conference, talk to carnival-type. I have experiences becoming the participants, the committees and sometimes, I lead the projects. I hope I can list it down one by one but what concerned me is not the number of projects or program that I joined or conducted, it is always about the management and the outcome of them. The outcome of those projects is greatly related to how we manage it.
From mistakes I’ve done and from experiences I’d gained I gradually learned from time to time the existence of project management. I bought books and tried hard to learn it by myself. Although I couldn’t apply almost everything in those books I read but I learned a lot from it. Honestly, I have never regretted joining or conducting any program because for each of them, it expands my capability and wisdom in dwelling with all the risks and problems in what-so-called ‘project management’.
Learning through reading and self application in life is two things that I did. I believed that the experiences would make the different. No need to worry doing any mistakes. Like an old friend advice me,
“If you feels that you had never made a mistake in life, then it means you had never tried anything new in life…or maybe you are traveling in a wrong path..”
Let the advance worrying become advance for thinking, planning and implementing.
Reasons of My Obsession
I have big reasons to be good in this. I will, one day, set up or running any companies and the knowledge of ‘project management’ can help me in handling them. In the competitive markets today, timely and successful project completion is critical for the growth and survival of the companies. I know that in any big companies nowadays, they have introduced Project Management Office (PMO), task force, work teams and various forms of projectized organizations. They will make sure that their underlings learn the basic and effective techniques in Project Management, for the sake of ensuring the successfulness in any projects. However, it is no doubt that anyone who has experiences doing this kind of work and has had basic of it can evolved and do better than their friends.
In medical profession, being a good project manager will help you to become a good Medical & Health Officer (MHO) or a good leader for medical research. So, for that purpose, I put my efforts to master this.
Fundamental of Project Management
First, let us understand the meaning of ‘project’. It is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique service, product or result. ‘Temporary’ here indicates that every project has beginning and end dates. By the time it has been completed, the project team disbands or moves on to other new projects. It differs with on-going operation. Let see the examples;
- Le Tour de Kelantan 2007 – it was a 3 days program, the committees was set up one month before the project and right after the project, the committees was disband to give a new start to the next project – Neo Cyber Medical Check Up Program
- BLS Training School Tour – it is a continuous program, not limited to years, there are one project manager and a team who plan, set it and ask for sponsorships, then under them there are several people who are assigned to lead several projects going to school teaching BLS and giving motivational talk.
The first one is a project but the second one is on-going operation. However, inside the on-going operation, there can be projects.
Key Point for a Successful Project
Key 1: Follow 5 management processes deliberately
There are 5 project management processes that should be followed to ensure the project meets project requirements, namely;
- Initiating process
- Planning process
- Executing process
- Monitoring & controlling process
- Closing process
For every process, they are a lot to be discussed but I prefer to explain them in separate post.
For additional info, it doesn’t mean that every project needs to follow these processes but it’s necessary to check them up so nothing will be left behind. It’s good to have checklist, it will become a great reminder.
Key 2: Understand the 3 competing constraints – project scope, time and cost
Then, let see the project requirements or goals. Actually, it can be grouped into 3 key competing constraints – project scope, time and cost.
- As usual, when we set our committees, we will divide our work scope and task. It is important to make all the committees understand their job and avoid any clash against their work scope.
- Dateline for every step or processes need to be set to avoid last minute working.
- Cost or money can have big effects on any projects. All the committees need to discuss and make up for an ‘imaginary budget’ before proceed with project. It is essential in order to give them a finance guideline to move forward. Treasurer also needs to beware about the money consumption and always update the budget & cost.
Key 3: For a project manager, they need to have the 3 attributes of a successful project manager
- Knowledge on project management & the project itself
- Good leadership skills
- Good communication skills
Key 4: The application of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) & Project Plan
WBS is the foundation to a good project management plan; used to subdivide the major part of project or project work into smaller, more manageable tasks. Normally, before start to work, the project manager will call upon the important people in each committee and brainstorm the major tasks. Although it consumes a lot of time but it is worth it.
Once WBS is established and has been detailed, a timeline or project schedule can be mapped out; cost can be estimated and risks which can occur can be expected. WBS helps a lot in identifying the risks and let us prepared for it.
In advanced level, the entire detailed plan can be converted to a Gantt chart. I tried to apply it in previous projects and I find it beneficial. However, it is time-consuming and not really applicable for small-scale project. There must be one person who fully taking care of it and the secretary is preferable besides project leader.
Key 5: Risk Management
It starts during the project planning stage and the risks commonly identified while doing the brainstorm session or WBS. Honestly, I have never applied it thoroughly although I take some essences of it. The risk management includes 6 processes i.e.
- Qualitative & quantitative analysis
- Risk response planning
- Monitoring & control
The objectives of risk management are to increase the probability and impact of positive events; and to decrease the negative one. In responses to the negative risks, we can avoid, transfer, mitigate or accept it; depends on its situation.
In my experiences, for every decision we want to make regarding the risks, we need to discuss it with our teammates. Sometimes, strong will is needed to make a concluded decision and get rid of certain views.
Key 6: Execution & Controlling of the Project
If you are the project manager, it is absolutely your responsibility to control and tract the performance of the project closely. The 3 key competing constraints can be used as tracking tools;
- Time controlling: concentrate on the timeline which has been set before (or Gantt chart, if you have) to monitor the actual completion dates of tasks versus plan
- Cost controlling: like I has mentioned before, the treasurer or finance team should keep track on everything that has been spent or being spend
- Scope controlling: let say for example, for medical checkup program, at first, we agreed to do only basic medical checkup such as BMI, blood pressure or blood sugar measurement but then, suddenly, the villagers asked to do ‘sunathon’ too. The sudden change on scope impacted the cost and schedule of the project. Therefore, something like this must not be ignored and need early notification.
Key 7: Documentation and formal review
I think this is one of the most crucial things in any projects. Apart from filing the project documents accordingly for future reference, it is important to document and share the “lessons learned” of the project. This ensures continuous improvement for the team and next projects. That’s why, after any project, a project manager will arrange a grand dinner to gather all the crews and reflect back everything.
Honestly, the tips I gave above is based on my experiences and what I have learned from my reading. I try to make it simple and understandable; as anyone can apply it. Although I know I didn’t thoroughly explain the whole thing but I hope anyone who read it can get the general idea of handling a project. The rest, you can learn more through trial and error or maybe the best is you asked for someone superior to guide you – mentoring.
- The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management by Eric Verzuh
- The Portable MBA in Project Management by Eric Verzuh
- Managing Projects in Organization by J Davidson Frame