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

The Project Management Cycle

A project management methodology follows a cyclical approach throughout the life of the project. The cycle represents a continuous process in which each phase provides the foundation for the next. For example, during implementation the monitoring phase provides inputs and changes to the original design which then the project managers uses to modify the implementation plans. The cyclic nature among the design, implement and monitor phases is repeated throughout the life of the project.

 

The cycle allows for a constant, iterative process by which the project is constantly adapted, this repetitive cycle continues until all project activities and objectives have been delivered. The cycle approach allows opportunities to review the original project assumptions and plans, as the project makes progress the initial conditions could have changed making necessary for the project to change course or readjust the original plans.

A project is not a linear process, it is cyclical, with each phase receiving feedback from the preceding: for example, during the monitoring the projects may encounter that the original assumptions about a project activity have changed which leads to propose a readjustment of the plans, either in schedule or in scope. No situation in which a project intervenes is static, project management is a cycle that is continually repeated to adapt to a changing context. The project management cycle continues in a spiral fashion until the project is completed and closed. For larger projects the phases may be broken down in smaller manageable phase, each with its own project management cycle, were the closure on the first phase of a project leads to the initiation of the second phase.

The application of project management is an iterative process. For example, within the planning phase, several iterations of planning may occur as the team develops the best approach and methodologies to implement the project. This process requires additional improvements and refinements to the schedule, budget estimates, quality requirements and risk plans.

As improvements start to occur, the impact to other project management areas must be determined. Over time, the iterations should become smaller in magnitude and more defined as more detailed information about the project is developed. Each project’s management cycle is a knowledge cycle in itself that shapes the initial design and is fed by experience from each implementation and evaluation cycle.

 

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Become a better planner

b2ap3_thumbnail_Planner.pngManaging the expectations of beneficiaries, donors and maintaining stakeholder relationships is important to the long term success of any project. Planning can be the difference between success and failure. Whether you are managing a small project or a multi-year program, planning is a critical element for successful project.

Here are 3 quick tips on how you can become a better planner.

  • Strengths and weaknesses. Figure out where your strengths are and where your weakness may lie. As a project manager you don’t need to develop all the project plans, work on those that you know you have expertise and delegate or ask others with more experience to do the plans where your skills are not too strong. For example, you may be good at decomposing the project using  a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), but you may now know much about using a scheduling software to find our the project critical path.
  • Plan with SMART goals in mind. Set some reachable short term goals. How many milestones do you want to make this month? How many beneficiaries do you want to reach? How many events will you present this month? Set a goal and reach it. Work the project details on short term goals; don’t spend too much time of defining the tasks for objectives that are still months or even years away in your project plan. Projects are built on assumptions, and assumptions tend to change.
  • See the big picture. Make sure your plan is aligned to the end goals of the project, that you will connect your plan with the expected results and not just the achievement of activities. Monitor progress of you plan and make changes as needed.
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