Project Management – Keep It Simple

Paul Naybour

Project management can be extremely complicated, but it needn’t be. And it is beneficial for us all to simplify our processes from time to time. Here we look at how to do this.

Project management, as anyone who has watched The Apprentice knows, is one of the most difficult professions there are. In fact plenty who do the job would have probably loved to have Alan Sugar’s finger pointed at them in the boardroom from time to time, just to give them a breather from the stress!

As a project manager, you have the ultimate responsibility for the project’s planning, the allocation of tasks and resources, the coordination of the efforts of everyone involved – and ultimately, the responsibility for success or failure.

Simplifying the process is a really good way to boost your projects chances for success.
And fortunately, the processes involved can be simplified. Numerous project management training courses teach a simple approach to project management. It is usually those doing the job who complicate the process without being aware they are doing so.

In the book Simple Project Management by Brian C Christensen the author suggests ways of simplifying project management.

Christensen defines simple project management as the use of approaches and techniques that have worked well in the past. The construction of a project management framework based on the “tried and true.” He has formulated twelve categories, subdividing them into sixty distinct responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities are:

●    Defining exactly what will be delivered to the client, in accordance with the contract.
●    Figuring out what risks are involved and how they will be handled.
●    Seeing to it that the value of the project to be undertaken is enough to justify its cost.
●    Dividing the project into distinct steps, assigning each one to a specific team member and scheduling each of them to give the proper amount of time needed to complete them properly.
●    Managing communications with all of the team members – with the project manager himself, with stakeholders, clients and senior management.

As anyone working in project management knows, each and every one of these steps is essential for all areas of project management, and most professionals, if asked, would produce a very similar list. However, many project managers group the elements together in different ways. Christensen’s book devotes an approximately equal portion to each responsibility – a single page each.

So although simplifying processes you have used time and time again may in fact add complexity to the way you work in the short term, in the long term, there is so much to be gained. Strip back the way you currently work, think about what is truly necessary to get the job done and make that the base for your key project management framework.

If you think you need to do a bit more learning to get your core structures on top form try and improve your skillset. A project manager should always be seeking to improve the way he/she works in order to adapt to new teams, new projects and the ever changing world of project management.

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