Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Outlining the twelve steps, part of Project Management Simplified.
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- Every project is different and in fact the definition of a project is something complicated that you haven't done before. Projects are going to be difficult, but the great thing is that there's a simple 12 step process that you can use that will work on any project if you just follow my 12 steps you'll be fine. I'm going to outline briefly now what the 12 steps are, and then during the course I'll be looking at each one in more detail. The first step is to define very clearly what your project is.
Unclear definition is a very common reason for project failure. Often people start by saying something like I'll make you a really good website or something like that, but what does really good mean? How do we know that the customer's going to be happy with it? The first thing is to carefully define what the project is. Once you've done that you can start with the planning of your project, and steps two to eight are all about having an accurate plan. You can see that project management is mostly about planning.
In the first part of this planning step two is to list all the tasks. To break your project down into pieces, and what we're doing in this step is we're breaking down something we've never done before into a series of tasks that we have done before. For example, if I was running a training course in Cairo for a group of people from all over Africa I think that would count as a project, but say I've never done it before how do I plan it? If I break it down into booking a hotel, booking flights, arranging vaccinations if I need them, maybe getting some of the workbooks translated into French, I've done all of those things before, so I can then begin to estimate the time and cost for all of the parts.
That's step three of the project planning process. How do you estimate something when it could vary, and we need to look at that and we will. Then step four is to add up all of the time and the costs for your project. Now, adding up the cost is going to be relatively easy it's just adding up the sum of the tasks, but the time is a bit more tricky, because we've got some tasks happening at the same time as others. For step four we need a diagram that's going to allow us to see how long the project's going to take over all allowing for the fact that a certain amount of the tasks are in parallel.
In step four we're going to look at these diagrams, critical path diagrams they're often called. Step five is about what can you do if the time comes out as being too long to be acceptable. When you add up the tasks, and you find yourself saying, "Oh no, we haven't got that long for this project," then what can you do? Shortening your project plan is step five. Once you've got an acceptable length of project plan you could then make it into a Gantt chart which is step six.
I'm a big enthusiast for Gantt charts, and in step six I'm hoping to convince you to love Gantt charts as much as I do. Once you've got your Gantt chart you can then use it for step seven which is to look at resources. You can work out whether you've got enough people to do the project the way you want to do it. You can also add up multiple projects to make sure that you've got enough resources to do all of the projects that you want to do, and we're going to be looking at that in step seven of this course.
The last bit of planning step eight is to think about what might go wrong. What are the risks, how likely are they, and how serious would they be if they happened, and what can be done to reduce risks? Steps two to eight are all about planning. Then we have three more steps nine, 10 and 11, during which we can look at what do we do during the project. Step nine is to monitor the progress during your project making sure that you're still on plan to finish on time. Step 10 is monitoring the cost, the expenditure.
Making sure that you're staying within budget during your project. Then there's step 11 which is where the pain happens, because this is where you reschedule, this is where you have to admit to either your boss or your customer that you need either more time or more money or quite possibly both. We'd all love to avoid step 11, and if your planning is very good sometimes you can avoid it, but the reality of projects is that they're things that you haven't done before, so it's almost inevitable there'll be something you didn't expect.
You'll have to modify your plan a little, and this is what step 11 is about. Then finally we reach step 12 which is the project review. Often people miss out step 12 because they don't have time or they think there'll never be another project similar to this one, or they don't want to review it because it went so badly, but these are all false reasons for avoiding a review. The only way an organization learns is through reviews, and you must do a review so the last part of this course is on how to carry out a good project review.
That's the 12 step process let's get started on learning how to do each step.
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- Defining project scope
- Deciding how to list tasks
- Estimating costs and time
- Planning for risk
- Staying on budget