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PM4DEV Blog

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

General Management

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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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 project management cycle cosists of six phases:

1.       Initiate

2.       Plan

3.       Implement

4.       Monitor

5.       Adapt

6.       Close

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.

Managing a project is not a linear process, it is cyclical; with each phase receiving feedback from the preceding phase. For example, during the monitoring phase the project may encounter that the original assumptions about an  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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