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

Project Management for Development

Why you should use a standard methodology for managing your projects?

A Methodology for Project Management is a strategy that increases the chances for project success; by giving a clear direction, it saves time and improves the quality of the deliverables. Most development project managers use a type of methodology that was either learned by years of experience or is part of the organization’s policies and methods for project management. A common benefit of a methodology is that that it helps manage projects by reducing risks which improve the chances of success of a project.

What is a Methodology?
A methodology is "a set of methods, processes, and practices that are repeatedly carried out to deliver projects". The key element is that by repeating the same actions on every project the organization will gain efficiencies in its approach.
What is a Standard?
A standard is defined as "a collection of knowledge areas that are generally accepted as best practice in the industry". Standards give guidance, whereas methodologies provide practical processes for managing projects. Standards are not methodologies and vice versa. The two most popular standards used in project management worldwide are the PMBOK® (from the Project management Institute) and Prince2® (a UK standard)

What are the components of a methodology?
A project methodology should contain:

  • A set of processes to manage projects.
  • A set of competencies to build the required skills.
  • A set of tools forms and templates to standardize information.

Why use a Methodology?
A methodology is not a magic wand that can be used to solve every problem in a project, but it helps by the use of a clear set of processes for managing projects that everyone in the organization understands. A good methodology, that is fit to the context and environment where an organization works, is able to provide clear guidance of the what, who, when and how a project should be done.  A methodology also provides a level of flexibility that can be adapted to the special conditions of every project. For instance, for smaller projects, the organization can choose to apply a light version of the management processes. And when managing large projects, it can apply the full processes required to monitor every element of the project in enough detail to reduce risks. Organizations that can manage every project, in the same way, will be able to gain efficiencies; project staff will be able to work smarter and reduce waste. A methodology gives every project team a clear understanding of what is expected from them which in turn increases the chances of success.

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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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