The task of starting a project is a challenge in itself. The expectations, the activities and even the purpose of the project can be hard to define, but failing to do so can have a negative impact on costs. That is why the guidance of a project manager is key.
Although some argue that project management is as old as mankind, the concept as we understand it has roots in the 1950s. It was then that the surge in civil construction and engineering activity led to the creation of a separate figure that could take care of all the aspects of a project.
The next questions will allow you see things from the perspective of a project manager. You will get a clear vision of the most important aspects of your project and also a solid base to develop it.
What’s the Purpose?
The first step is to state clearly the purpose of your project. This may seem obvious, but it is essential that you have a sound understanding of this aspect from the beginning. If you have trouble bringing your project’s purpose into focus, ask these questions: What situations lead to the project? Who will benefit from it? Who thought of it originally?
What Are the Expected Results?
At this stage you will clarify what are your project’s objectives. Describe in a plain language what are your project’s deliverables, that is, what are products and services your project should provide. Make sure to include measurable outcomes, as this can help you gauge more accurately the advancement of your project.
What Work Has to Be Done?
Once you have determined what are the deliverables, establish what are the activities required to produce them. Include inputs such as raw materials, funds, feedback from important stakeholders and info that must be gleaned in order for the project to begin.
When Does Each Activity Start and End?
An important tool for the development of your project is a schedule that shows clearly defined activities. Precise milestones will allow you give precise guidance to other participants. Furthermore, a precise schedule will be useful as an instrument to support monitoring and control.
To craft your schedule, keep in mind the duration of each activity, the availability or resources and the interdependencies involved. Interdependencies are the activities that must be finished before you can start another one.
Who Will Perform the Work?
Make a list of the participants and establish who will take care of what and how much effort they will devote to their individual task. Include names, positions and skills, clarifying their specific roles in each activity, and specifying the level of effort expected from each person.
By asking yourself these questions you will ensure that your project gets off to a good start. However, only a professional project manager can navigate all the obstacles that may arise along the way.
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