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

What is the Decision Making Process?

b2ap3_thumbnail_decision.jpgAll project managers need to make decisions, but good decisions usually come from the use of a logical and rational process. When used correctly the project manager increases its chances of coming to the right decision. The steps for a good decision making process are:

State The Problem - The first and the most important step in the decision making process is to identify the problem. Only when there is a clear understanding of the problem or decision to be made, the project manager can proceed to seek a solution. If the problem is stated incorrectly or is unclear then your decisions will be wrong.


Identify Alternatives – The project manager  and the project team should then start to list all possible alternatives. Most of the time there will be several alternatives and it is worth spending enough time to ensure there are a good number of viable alternatives.


Evaluate The Alternatives - This is the step where the analysis of the alternatives begins. The project manager can use techniques to rank the alternatives. Two of such techniques are Decision Matrices and SWOT analysis. The purpose is to have a list that ranks the best alternatives using a set of criteria for viability.


Make A Decision – Once the alternatives have been evaluated. The project manager should select two or more of the high ranked alternatives. All low ranked alternatives should be eliminated. The project manager then will need to review the problem statement and test the solutions against the selected alternatives and decide on the solution that has the best chance at solving the problem.


Implement the Decision – Before the chosen solution is implemented the project manager will need to make a revision of the project plan, schedule, budget and other resources to ensure the solution can be implemented. Part of the implementation phase is the follow up. The follow up ensures that the implementation of the solution has solved the problem.

Once the decision or solution has been implemented the project manager should monitor and evaluate if the decision resulted in the expected results or benefits.

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Benefits of Stakeholder Participation


Participation by project stakeholders means sharing a common understanding and involvement in the decision-making process of the project. Participation by stakeholders leads to empowerment and to joint ownership of the project. To increase participation the project should start with a consultation process that moves to negotiations and ends with joint decisions. Participation by project stakeholders has many benefits and advantages, among them are:

  • Ensures that the project plans are a reflection of the real needs and priorities
  • Develops an environment of trusts by allowing the voices of the stakeholders be heard and their issues be known
  • Makes the project accountable to the stakeholders
  • Enables the voices of the stakeholders to be heard and by doing that the level of trust in the relationships increases.
  • Promotes transparency in the actions of the project and ensures that the project is held accountable for its actions.
  • Increases ownership by stakeholders who feel the project is taking in account their views and motivates them to sponsor the project, which ultimately leads to sustainability.
  • Is a key strategy to win support to the project, to gain commitment to the project, and ultimately to increase the chances for sustainability after the project has been completed.

Real development requires a people centered approach instead of an output oriented one. Project managers need to break the conventional approach of top-down solutions to incorporate a bottom-up approach that enables a more sustainable solution.

While participation may require more time and resources and may be more difficult to implement; the results is an increase in commitment to the project. Stakeholders who are consulted and made part of the solution feel more willing to support the project.



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