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PM4DEV Blog

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

What is Iterative Planning?

Iterative Planing is the process to adapt as the project unfolds by changing the plans. Plans are changed based on feedback from the monitoring process, changes in the project assumptions, risks and changes in scope, budget or schedule.

 

Its a Team Effort - It is important to involve the team in the planning process. The people doing the work should be actively involved in planning the project.  When they get involved in the decision, they become motivated to get it right. After all, they were hired and they have the skills to understand the dependencies. Once they complete the plans, they will own it and will accept the schedule. It also is helpful to involve your key stakeholders; these could be the internal support functions of the organizations such as finance or procurement. Also involve partners, donors or funding agencies who can provide with valuable insights and information on when they need the project to be completed, risks, constraints and resource availability.

Planning should not be done hastily; it takes time in order to get plans that can become useful to the team. Usually the development of all project plans can take weeks or a couple of months depending on the size and complexity of the project.

Iterative Planning Sessions - In traditional – linear - project management, the approach is to implement the activities under the assumptions that all events affecting the project are predictable, that activities are well understood by everybody, and there is no need to revisit the plans. Unfortunately, this approach proves to be not very effective, given the level of uncertainty on many development projects. What happens is that the original assumptions under which the project plan was built change and in some cases in dramatic ways. What was originally assumed to be true is no longer valid. Assumptions about approvals, additional funding, economic and social conditions change dynamically and the project needs to have the flexibility to adapt to these changes.

The project should find these opportunities to review the original assumptions and make the appropriate changes to the plans, specifically in the areas of scheduling, risks and stakeholders. This approach consists of a series of iterative planning and development cycles, allowing a project team to constantly evaluate the implementation and results of the project and obtain immediate feedback from beneficiaries, or stakeholders.

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Leadership Qualities of a Project Manager

b2ap3_thumbnail_lead.jpgBeing a successful project manager depends not only on what you do, but also on how you do it. Your attitudes and behaviors toward people affect how they respond to that person. The following nine  tips here can help you become a better leader.

Tell your team what you want, not how to do it. You will find your team more responsive and less defensive if you can give them guidance not instructions. You will also see more initiative, more innovation, and more of ownership attitude from them develop over time.

Don't DO Anything. Your job as a project manager is to "plan, organize, control and direct." Do not waste valuable time by falling back on what you did before you became a manager. You may enjoy it and you are good at it. That is why you were promoted to project manager. Now you need to concentrate your efforts on managing, not on "doing".

Get out of your desk. Management By Walking Around (MBWA) does work. You make yourself more approachable. You get information first-hand. You find out what's really happening.

Set  S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Goals you set for yourself, or others, should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Set an example. "One of the most significant parts of a project manager’s job is for them to become a positive role model that can pull a team together and deliver the level of service expected from their stakeholders and beneficiaries."

Actively listen. Listen to your stakeholders, beneficiaries, your team, your suppliers, and anyone else who is involved with your project. Honestly evaluate what they have to say, and you will probably learn something that benefits your project.

Leaders create change. If you lead, you will cause changes. Be prepared for them and their impact on people within, and outside, your group. If you are not making changes, you are not leading.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. The ability to communicate with people at all levels is almost always named as the second most important skill by project managers and team members. Project leadership calls for clear communication about goals, responsibility, performance, expectations and feedback.

Fix the problem, not the blame. It is far more productive, and less expensive, to figure out what to do to fix a problem that has come up than it is to waste time trying to decide whose fault it was.

Get your people involved. It's a lot easier to get your team to stand behind a management  decision if they have the opportunity to participate in the discussion. Management still has to make the decision, but if they have had the opportunity to make their point of view known, the team is more apt to stand behind the decision.

  “We must become the change we want to see.” Mahatma Gandhi

 

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