Basics


With every project there always seems like there are three nagging concerns:

·     Time-i.e. The event is on June 1st can we make it? Or I have to have my spring collection up, of course before spring.

·     Cost- i.e. We only have $5000 to start this new day camp. Or the $50 registration must include 2 speakers, lunch, and a take home gift. Not cost all includes your resources (i.e. the number or people you have on the project)

·     Scope- i.e. The Spring collection needs 5 new items, or the new building must be complete and in move in condition.

 

These critical factors affect the overall quality of your projects and ultimately the satisfaction of your customers. What makes it worse is these concerns are always competeing with each other. So not only are there 3 Elephants in the room, but they have the nerve to be fighting.

 

Don’t feel bad these worries are normal and dealing with them is considered part of the project and your project management. PMI (Project Management Institute) even has a name for them, the Triple Constraints. What makes a project successful is being able to deliver a project on time, with in budget, and with in scope (aka: give them every thing they asked for). And what makes you a successful project manager is dealing with the changes to these constraints as they come up. The triple constraints are often represented by a triangle because changes to one affect the others.

 

For example:
You are a committee chair planning a heath fair to service 100 attendees (your SCOPE)  in January  (your TIME)  with a budget $5000 and 5 committee members(your COST).
Let’s see how changes affect this project:

·     Scenario 1-You get a call that 2 of your committee members have quit and your budget has been cut by $1000. To resolve this issue you will need to a) cut the number of attendees or b) move the heath fair to march to give your exsisting committee members more time to work. Sometimes you may even need to do a little bit of both

·     Scenario 2- Weeks before the event you find out you will only have 75 attendees instead of the 100 you were planning for. You can either a) cut your cost by buying fewer supplies, or b) tell some of you committee members they can stay home that day. Since you received the information so late you may not want to change your time but it is always and option.

·     Scenario 3- Due to scheduling conflicts you need to have the fair in November instead January as planned. Wow that’s is a big change, for this you can either a) reduce the number of attendees so you can save on rushing in supplies and find a smaller cheaper venues or b) ask for more money to rush in supplies and more volunteers for you committee so you can get double the work done.

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So now that we’ve established that you have been doing projects all along and maybe didn’t realize, the next question is who has been managing it.

So whats a Project Manager……

A project manager run projects, define what needs to be done to meet what the users want, put together the project plans, gather and manage resources. And pretty much make sure that everything runs on track and the project completes on time, on budget, and to the specifications that were requested.

I know your thinking well we have somebody who does all that. We’ll you’re right, I’ll be the first (or maybe the second, LOL) to tell you that many people who don’t have the job title or the certification are indeed project managers. In small businesses and/organization often the person who manages project is the owner, supervisor, president, chairperson, or just a volunteer designee. Although these people may not have the formal training or the background they still manage projects and many manage them very well. So when you think well where’s is our Project Manager look around with a little training, education, and experience many people right in your organization can be project managers.

So if you are aspiring to be that project manager in your group or you just want to hone your skills, this blog is here to help. 

Here’s a little funny clip on how NOT to be a good project manager:

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According to the PMBOK 3rd Ed. a project is a “temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result“. The key words her are temporary and unique.

So what is temporary? Temporary meaning it has a definite beginning and an end (PMBOK, 3rd. Ed)

And what is unique? Unique meaning it is unlike any other project or process undertaken by this organization

So how does that relate to your organization? Well here are some examples of projects: the Annual Bake sale, The Winter Dinner Dance or Gala, the Bus Trip to the Capital, the new Food Bank you’re starting, the annual coat drive you hold. See you have been doing projects all of this time and maybe didn’t realize.

But wait some of these projects have the word “Annual” which means they aren’t unique, they happen every year. Well that’s where the definition of project gets a little tricky, even if you do something regularly it can still be considered a project. If key elements change every time you hold an event then it’s considered a project. For example if every year you change the theme, location, season of your Annual Gala it’s a project. If for this year’s bake sale your hosting at the school and only focusing on cookie baking; and next year you are moving to the fair and focusing on cakes then you have a project.

So now your thinking everything we do is a project, Wow that’s a lot of work. Well not quite everything you do. Things that you do regularly and only make minor changes is not a project. So if you always hold your Gala in the Spring, at the church, with a Shooting for the Stars theme, and you only change the colors then that’s not a project. If you meet monthly but always at a different member’s house, that to is not a project.

Whew!!! this project stuff just got a little easier. Well here’s an even better part about project management once you set it up, you have all the tools in place to easily do a similar project. We’ll discuss planning in another topic but the plans you put in place for that first bake sale or first meeting can easily be adapted to help with the next event.

I know I have  focused on events for this example but there are many other things you do that is a projects, like the definition say a unique product service, or result. So here are a few more examples:

  • creating a new specialty pizza recipe for your restaurant (product)
  • revamping the constitution and bylaws for your organization (result)
  • developing the curriculum for a new class in your tutoring program (product)
  • expanding your business to now offer cat sitting(service)

So there you have it many things you have already been doing are projects, so read on and see how you can improve some of things you have already been doing.

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Many people when they think Project Management and Project Mangers they thing big business, huge coorporations, and a lot of work.

They don’t think mom and pop shop, church choir, PTA or local philanthropy group. They also don’t think cost effective, can reduce the number of people needed, smooth and efficient programming and blue prints for years to come. All valuable things that smaller groups can use to improve your everyday operations.

Well this blog is dedicated to you…..

In this blog you’ll  find valuable information on how to incorporate simple project management techniques to help improve your groups programming. 

Sooo What Makes me an expert?

Well I’m not, but I am a certified Project Management Professional(PMP) certified by the Project Management Institute. And I have worked for over 6 years managing IT projects for a leading healthcare institution. But more importantly I have been active member of a community conscious action oriented orgainzation where I have served as fundraising chair, advisor, coordinated community service events etc. Through the years I have found that incorporating some of the skills I aquired as PMP to my local group we were able to achieve bigger and better things. And now I want to share with all of you.

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