Purpose: To provide the basic skills and knowledge needed to effectively manage a group project.
Importance: Project scheduling and understanding/handling risk is crucial to success in science and engineering. Goals: After this activity, you will be able to: • • • • •
Break a complex project into manageable sub-projects Assign responsibility/ownership of project components Set reasonable milestone's for the completion of major tasks Perform a risk analysis and integrate mitigation into your planning Develop and complete a project plan
Files: Project Management (Link provided on the section page)
SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION TO PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project management is the art of matching a project's goals, tasks, and resources to accomplish a goal as needed. We say "as needed" because one has limited time, money, and resources (human and machinery) with which to accomplish a goal. One can think of a project as a process. Figure 1 shows this process as a simplified block diagram.
Figure 1: Simple Project Management System
The process involves inputs and outputs. Successful projects "do the right things, with the right tools, and in the right way".
SECTION 2: STAGES OF A PROJECT AND HOW TO COMPLETE THEM
Stage 1: Defining the goals of the project: Garbage in equals garbage out. If you do not start a project with the correct goal(s), it is not likely you will accomplish the goal(s). This must be a team activity to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to contribute and "buy-in" to what is going to happen. At the end of this stage, every team member should have an understanding of what must be accomplished. This part of the project should end with a document that lists the goals with a short statement providing some detail. The statement should include a definition of success. This is a statement that provides a description of the vital few requirements that define the goal as accomplished. Vital few implies the minimum required to do a good job. Defining success is necessary to make sure there is no ambiguity as to whether the goal has been accomplished or not. It also prevents teams from performing unnecessary iteration and improvement on a goal which has been sufficiently accomplished. Stage 2: Define project tasks/activities: Each goal or sub-set of goals should be matched to the tasks required to accomplish them. This is best done by listing the goals on the left side of a sheet of paper, then writing the tasks to their right. The group should agree that the specify task will accomplish the goals as per required in the definitions for success the team laid out in the previous stage. Stage 3: Determine and verify resource requirements: Resources are those things which are needed to accomplish the project goals. Resources may include, but are not limited to: • • • • • • •
People Time Money Space Computers Software Others.....
The most important component of determining resource requirements is to be realistic. One of the most common mistakes project managers make is to underestimate the amount and type of resources required. This leads to projects that run over budget and fall behind schedule. DO NOT attempt to do any of the following: • Squeeze a project into a shorter time frame to please your boss • Cut corners to minimize resource requirements • Plan on a best-case basis, i.e. "If everything goes correctly, we will finish on
time." Determine what you need to get the job done correctly, on time, and on budget. It is not a bad idea to build in a safety margin here. This is often referred to as "padding". For instance, one might multiply the estimated time to complete a task/project by say 20% to allow for additional time to deal with unexpected occurrences. The amount of padding usually depends on the certainty one has as to how effectively the resources can be used. One should keep padding to a minimum. Once the requirements have been set, it is important...