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Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

The Value of a Project Management Methodology


b2ap3_thumbnail_Q1-07-P3.pngA methodology is a collection of best practices, knowledge, processes and internal agreements that become a standardized set of procedures for an organization to manage its projects. Using project methodologies is a strategy that maximizes the project's value to the organization. The methodologies must evolve and be constantly improved to accommodate an organization's changing strategy, focus or direction.

There is not one methodology that fits all organizations and all needs, a project management methodology must be build following the organizations culture, vision, mission, values and with a strong focus on stakeholder benefits. A methodology is by essence a set of tailored guidelines or principles that can be applied to a specific situation. In a project environment, these guidelines usually include description of processes, procedures, standards, templates, forms, and checklists used over the project life cycle. Many development organizations today do not use any formalized project methodology. They run their projects as they always have. However, the environment and new demands from donors and beneficiaries is changing rapidly. Organizations are in need for dynamic methodologies and processes, that allows organizations with the ability to change their development strategies to deliver more benefits and create larger impact while keeping accountability for their actions.

The Value of a Project Management Methodology

A good project management methodology provides the framework, processes, guidelines and techniques to manage the people and achieve the project objectives. A good methodology increases the odds of project success and therefore provides value to the organization, the project, the donor and the beneficiaries. The cost of developing and implementing a project management methodology are offset by:

  • Completing projects effectively and efficiently. Once the processes, procedures and templates are created, they can be used and improved by future projects. This results in reduced effort to start the project, a shorter learning curve for project team members and time and budget savings from not having to reinvent processes and templates from scratch on each project.
  • Better results through better planning. Projects experience problems because there is a difference between what the donor expects and what the project delivers. Using a methodology gives the project, the donor and the beneficiaries an opportunity to ensure there is a mutual understanding on what the project aims to achieve.
  • Resolving problems more quickly. Having a proactive issues management process helps ensure that problems are resolved as quickly as possible and reduces the time project managers spend dealing with issues
  • Resolving future risk before the problems occur. A sound project management methodology includes processes that facilitates the identification of potential risks and the development of risk response plans before the problems actually occur.
  • Managing expectations with stakeholders more effectively. A project management methodology focuses on the development of formal and informal communications, which results in improved understanding of the project objectives and approach among the different stakeholders
  • Improved financial management. Occurs as the result of better project definition, better estimating, more formal budgeting and better tracking of the project actual costs against the budget.

Organizations that have good processes, and follow them, obtain better results in a consistent, repeatable and predictable manner.

 

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What is Process Management?


b2ap3_thumbnail_process.png

Using process is a method to manage the project by breaking it down into its key elements. Process management allows for a structured and systematic approach to plan, execute, control and adapt all project work.

A process is after all a set of actions or activities that must be performed in order to achieve results. For example managing information in a project can be seen as a process; and in that process we will identify all the activities, roles, responsibilities and technique required to achieve a result.

Before the project execution starts, the project manager must ensure that the work is defined in terms of the overall objectives, deliverables, scope, assumptions, risks, organization, etc.; and that a schedule is prepared that shows how the project team will deliver all the work. Once the project starts, the project manager must successfully manage and control the work, including:

  • Identifying, tracking, managing and resolving project issues.
  • Proactively disseminating project information to all stakeholders.
  • Identifying, managing and mitigating project risk.
  • Ensuring that the solution is of acceptable quality.
  • Proactively managing scope to ensure that only what was agreed to is delivered.
  • Defining and collecting metrics to give a sense of how the project is progressing.
  • Managing the overall project plan to ensure that all work is assigned and completed on time and within budget.

Managing all this work can be daunting, but the use of process helps the project manager be more effective. By creating a method that can describe the steps to plan, act, do and check the project work, the project manager is able to  ensure the project is successful in delivering its intended result. A process is a systematic method that creates a constant, repeatable and even predictable result. But what is more important is that process management  makes project work be more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.

To manage the project management processes, a project manager should be well organized, have great follow-up skills, be process oriented, be able to multi-task, have a logical thought process, be able to determine the root causes to problems, and have good analytical skills. 

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”   W. Edwards Deming

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