Project Management Principles

Project Management is a composite activity with multiple dimensions. Depending on the type and class of project, this management activity can be very complex. In a nutshell, project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, managing, leading, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals.

The very basics of project management are as follows: a project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables) that an organization takes to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or add value.

The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals and objectives while honoring the pre-defined constraints. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality, and budget. The secondary—and more ambitious—challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and integrate them to meet pre-defined objectives.

THE SIX PRINCIPLES OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Principle 1: Vision and Mission

In order to be successfully executed, every project or initiative should begin with the end in mind. This is effectively accomplished by articulating the Vision and Mission of the project so it is crystal-clear to everyone. Creating a vision and mission for the project helps clarify the expected outcome or desired state, and how it will be accomplished.

Principle 2: Business Objectives

The next step is to establish two to three goals or objectives for the project. Is it being implemented to increase sales and profit, customer loyalty, employee productivity and morale, or product/service quality? Also, it’s important to specifically quantify the amount of improvement that is expected, instead of being vague.

Principle 3: Standards of Engagement

Simply put, this means establishing who will be part of the project team? What will be the frequency of meetings? What are the meeting ground rules? Who is the project owner? Who is designated to take notes, and distribute project meeting minutes and action steps? This goes along with any other meeting protocol that needs to be clarified.

Principle 4: Intervention and Execution Strategy

This is the meat of the project and includes using a gap analysis process to determine the most suited intervention (solution) to resolve the issue you are working on. There are many quality management concepts that can be applied ranging from a comprehensive “root cause analysis” to simply “asking why five times.” Once the best possible intervention has been identified to resolve the issue, then we must map out our execution strategy for implementing the intervention. This includes identifying who will do what, when, how, and why?

Principle 5: Organizational Alignment

To ensure the success and sustainability of the new initiative or process brought on by this project, everyone it will directly impact must be onboard. To achieve organisational alignment (or buy-in), ongoing communication must be employed in-person during team meetings, electronically via email and e-learning (if applicable), and through training. The message must include the WIIFM “what’s in it for me” at every level; otherwise most stakeholders will not be interested or engaged around the new initiative.

Principle 6: Measurement and Accountability

And last, how will we determine success? Well, a simple project scorecard that is visually interesting is a great way to keep everyone updated and engaged. A scorecard is an excellent resource for holding employees, teams, and leaders accountable for the implementation, refinement, and sustainability of the new initiative or project. Accountability means that consistently, top performers will be rewarded and recognised; while those needing improvement will be coached with specific expectations and consequences clearly outlined.

While my six principles of project management may not be all inclusive, my hope is that it has ignited creative juices as you think about how you will approach your next project – whether implementing a new system/process or refining one that is already in place to enhance its effectiveness.

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