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

The Value of a Project Management Methodology

A 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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How to Pay Attention in Project Meetings

The plain fact is that some project meetings can be very, very boring. It's not uncommon for members of a team to zone out through long sessions in a conference room. However, doing so can have a negative impact on your career. A meeting is usually organized by the project manager and he or she expects that all members of the team will attend and contribute to the discussions in a constructive manner, so there are expectations that you need to meet and if you do not pay attention or seem distracted during the meeting your supervisor and colleagues will notice. So here are the ways on how to pay attention in project meetings.

 

1. Get your sleep. Well-rested staff have a better chance of paying attention and really understanding what's going on, and the result can put you further ahead in your professional goals. Think about having a cup of coffee if you think it will help you to really focus in when things are going on in a meeting.

2. Make a list of your questions prior to the meeting. Taking your comments and questions with you will help you stay involved, which will give you a better chance of keeping your attention focused throughout the entire session.

3. Find a good seat. If there is a kind of "blind spot" in the back of the room, avoid this area and stick to places where you will have a good view of projected screens or focal points and where you can hear what is being said by presenters.

4. Keep the meeting on track with proactive comments and questions. Even if you don't have anything written down for a particular topic, you might be one of those people who rightly observes that a speaker is wandering, getting away from appropriate topics, or taking much too long to get across what he or she has to say. In these instances, you can do yourself and everyone else a favor by helping to focus the meeting, staying engaged and actively interjecting when appropriate.

5. Take notes during the meeting. Writing things down keeps you more engaged, and you'll come away with those choice bits of information that will help provide detail on future events or projects. It might help to file the notes that you take so that you have access to them if there's a scenario where they could come in handy.

 

 
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