Have you ever had to go to the store? Seems simple doesn’t it? Did you ever think about the process that makes it work?
This is the simplest form of Project Management.
What do I need to buy? Define the need, which is the Scope of Work.
Decide when you will go. Set a schedule.
Determine how to transport yourself, which is the Planning.
Go to the store. Execute the plan.
Return home. Finish the plan; close the project.
Did I get everything I went for? Evaluation. Did I spend too much? Did I stay within the budget?
We do it every day in everything we do. We do not write it out or record the process, but it all happens in a flash.
When the projects get bigger, like buying a car or moving to a new residence, the process gets more complicated. Sometimes we hire people to help us plan, like a realtor. They have done this hundreds of times, so we follow their plan.
In our company, we use Project Management to complete jobs. The Project Managers do many important tasks and at the center of their world is the Project Plan (PP). The project plan is what drives the job. The PP has as many small tasks needed to accomplish a goal. Some PPs only have a few tasks while others may have hundreds of tasks.
To keep it all straight, we use an indexing system called a Work Breakdown Schedule or WBS. This makes it easier to manage many tasks. Explaining the WBS and how it is used could be a different article. For now, you know it exists.
Each WBS labor type is tied to a project task, and the task is assigned to the person doing the work. Now we can keep track of when, where, and who is doing the work. All of this is tied together with the time bill.
By monitoring the project plan, the project manager will be able to adjust time budgets and labor schedules to meet the changing needs of the project.
When the project is completed, the project plan will tell a story. Who, what, and when? Did we deliver the product asked for? Was the project on budget? Was the project on time?
How does this affect me?
Everyone in their role executes project plans every day. Some are casual, while some are monumental.
Inside every project plan are smaller projects to be planned. In Q360, these are referred to as Parent Tasks. Each parent task has a schedule and a labor budget assigned to it. When a parent task is assigned to a person, that person becomes a project manager for that task. Your job is to understand the scope of work, set a schedule, plan the work, work the plan, and close the task. Of course, evaluate how you did.
Sounds like going to the store.
Why is the project plan important?
The obvious, this is how work gets done right?
There are other important aspects hidden in the data collected from the project plans.
From the data, we forecast labor needs for weeks and months ahead. If there is a rise or fall in scheduled hours, we can adjust and respond instead of reacting at the last minute.
Marketing and Sales use the forecast data to focus their sales on the slow times and sell around the peak times.
One of the four main elements in the Scaling Up process is cash. The forecast allows the company to see how and when the cash will flow. Cash is the life blood of any company.
As you can see, the project plan is very important to the health of Lone Star. Each project and all the parent tasks make up the forecast data. By tracking the parent task effort (labor budget) over a scheduled time, we can forecast future needs.
What is your responsibility to the plan?
When a parent task is assigned to you, stop for a minute. Think about the importance of planning your task. Take the time to make a usable plan that is attainable. Maintain the plan by adjusting the plan when needed. Then complete the task when you are confident your plan worked.
What is the real challenge here for you?
Do you have the answer to the original question…?
We are all project managers.