Rabiraj Khadka

Computer Engineer w/ Masters in Psychology

Beginner’s Guide to Project Management in 2021

When it comes to the term “managing” everyone will have to get through the standards and set of guidelines whether it be a person, product, project, or process. Being a project manager is not an easy role but also a necessary one that can give exponential growth though it requires a constant push to achieve more in less time. Project Management if done by a skilled project managers can help in avoiding risk factors that result in project failure and make use of limited resources to maximize results.

With the experience of managing the small scale project, hiring the people for the research and development team to managing national and international events, as a Research and Development Coordinator at the Robotics Association of Nepal, I am jotting you down with the general guidelines for the project management which will help you in making your project a success whether be it a college project, freelancing work or a project involving a 100s of team members.

  1. Set goals for the project.

Well yes without any goal we can’t get anywhere. You might have heard this quote:

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

if not you heard it now. 😉

Goal-setting is nothing but the process of establishing clear and usable targets or objectives. In order to accomplish any project, have a greater perspective on what you want to achieve by the end of the project execution cycle. If you are into executing a project for a client, their input is also essential in setting a goal for the project. If you are trying to manage the project internally having the input of the team member will help you in setting clear goals.

You might want to have a look at Locke and Latham’s  five principles of goal setting  which encourage you to think about your goals with the key elements: 

Clarity
Challenge
Commitment
Feedback
Task complexity

The SMART goal setting describes the important attributes for effective goal settings as 

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic
Time-based
  1. Analyze the requirements

Depending upon the goals set, it is necessary to outline the several requirements that result in the execution of different project activities. To scope out the project you can use the popular MoSCoW method which helps you to list out the different requirements with its own priority.

The MoSCoW method is a prioritization technique which is used to reach a common understanding of the importance of requirements and their delivery. MoSCoW method helps you to identify the requirements or features of the project on four prioritization categories as 

Must Have
Should Have
Could Have
Won’t Have

Must have category consists of the requirements that are critical to the current life cycle of a project in order for it to be a success. Requirements under Should have are important but not necessary for delivery in the current delivery timebox. Those requirements which are desirable but not necessary and could help in improving the client/customer satisfaction are labeled as Could have. Requirements labeled as Won’t have, are the one that has been agreed by stakeholders as the least-critical, or not appropriate at the time and could be executed on next cycle.

This method helps in executing the project activities to achieve the individual requirements in the same order; descending down the list to Won’t Have.

  1. Create a framework of task tracking

With the requirement analysis, one would get a set of project activities in order to fulfill that requirement, that too within the given timeline.

You will need a proper framework for the tracking of every task so that you can prepare yourself for the decision making and reporting. You can make use of a planner or prepare a task mastersheet where all the deliverables are listed as a task with its priority and delivery due dates and assign it to an individual. The roles and responsibility of all the team members must be assigned beforehand so that all have a clear picture of what to do and whom to contact for reference resulting in an autonomy of tasks. Preparing a gantt chart, project timeline and linking the tasks will  help you in visualizing the progress of the project. 

  1. Analyze the risk and its management

When planning for a project, one of the many things we should find an answer to first is, what could possibly go wrong? Finding an answer to such a question is a preventative measure you can take while executing a project. Issues will arise and you need a mitigation strategy to manage risks on your project. 

Risk Management is the process of identifying, analyzing, and responding to any risk that arises over the life cycle of a project to help the project remain on track and meet its goal. In order to list out the risk at every stage of your project execution, have a look at the project activities and list out what might possibly go wrong at that stage which might be a positive risk (also called opportunities) or a negative risk (might become an issue).

There may exist external factors causing your project to fail so you need to identify such environmental factors to your project too. After listing the project risk, analyze it for its impact and possibility of occurrence and give ownership of every risk to your team members with the risk measure. During risk analysis, it is best to have input from all the stakeholders, team members, and representatives from clients.

  1. Choose right set of tools

There are many project management tools available in the market, each has its own upside and downside. You need to choose the set of tools according to your needs which help you manage the projects with ease and can automate the tasks. When looking for a tools to manage your project please keep in mind few things as below:

1. Tools have the feature to organize and link the tasks to create timeline and plans.
2. Easy navigation through the user interface having good user experience.
3. Can easily communicate and collaborate with team members.
4. Time Tracking and Invoicing features are a plus.

Finding the best tools often takes a lot of time and testing, here are few tools which might come handy to you

  1. Trello
  2. Slack
  3. TopTracker
  4. Asana
  5. Confluence
  6. Teamwork
  7. Microsoft Project
  8. MeisterTask
  9. Paymo
  10. Wrike

Few other things you should consider during project management are conducting a cost and benefit analysis, a way of communication, scheduling meetings, monitoring and evaluation plan, appreciation and many more which I will try to cover up in my next blog.

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