RE: Training for Management

Subject: RE: Training for Management
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'SB'" <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>, "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2008 12:37:20 -0700

> From: SB

> I need to know how to manage the people and the documentation
> so we can meet
> the deadlines and so that the work gets done.


It sounds to me like you need project management and not business
management. In project management, the deliverables are managed. In
business management, the people are management. When managing a project,
the management of the people falls upon their supervisors and any human
resources issues in a project are usually delegated to business managers,
except for human resources issues that are directly tied to the project and
not to the person.

Project management is best thought of, for me, as deliverable management.
When you think about the product, then people are an incidental issue to the
project rather than a separate management issue. Project management scares
some people, usually it scares people who think that a project can be
whipped out without much thought, but project management has a very calming
effect for the people directly involved with the project.

There is more ground work before beginning a project with project management
than there is when just diving in and working; however, communication and
fixing issues during a project is easier when there is a good plan and
delays are less disastrous when project resources (people) can look at the
plan and see where a problem can be fixed. Failing to plan has led some
teams to "re-group" and practically start over when an external issue
impacts the project.

Here is what I would do and it could take me less than a couple of hours for
a small project. I also keep track of documentation and information that I
gather during the project planning process to assist with other project
needs that I put into a sort of project library.

Begin a Project Plan.
1. Outline the purpose and scope of the project and indicate the project
sponsor who has requested the project. (Also, name the project.)

2. Inventory the deliverables that the project will produce.

3. Assign due dates to the deliverables based on the deadlines that you were

4. Group the deliverables under main tasks. For example, there may be
deliverables related to system analysis and some of those deliverables are
user requirements, functional requirements, and compilation of current
documentation. The main task is "System Analysis" and sub-tasks are the
deliverables required for that task.

5. Identify the primary resources responsible for completing the
deliverables. *One* person should be the primary resource even though
multiple people might be involved. Also, identify the managers of your
resources because you will need to communicate with them.

6. Identify any dependencies and inter-dependencies for the deliverables.

7. Identify the primary tasks that are required for each deliverable.

8. Determine how much time is available for each deliverable based on their
respective deadlines.

Schedule the Tasks
Here is where you will begin to have issues. Schedule management is best
handled in a project management tool, like MS Project, but you may only have
Excel and Word available. When I need to manage a schedule and I don't have
the best software for the job, I get "medieval" and use a large whiteboard
with Post-Its with the deliverables, tasks, due dates, resources (persons
assigned to tasks and deliverables). I still use a whiteboard when I have
software for sketching drafts of plans and schedules.

I try to create some sort of Gantt chart on the whiteboard. I then arrange
and re-arrange the tasks on the whiteboard according to their dependencies
and resource availability. I can "roll-up" the sub-tasks into the main
tasks by stacking the Post-Its on each other until I need to "unroll" the
tasks to manage my schedule. Once the schedule is reasonably planned, then
I budget "float" time to accommodate unexpected contingencies.

After I have all of my time scheduled, I write it out with the dates on the
whiteboard as a Gantt chart. I keep track of my status and use color-coding
to indicate different elements of my schedule, depending on my needs. For
example, the critical path could be red, float time could be yellow,
on-schedule tasks could be green, and completed tasks could be black.

When I have my schedule on a whiteboard, then people interested in the
project can easily check the status of the project without bothering me.

Develop a Communication Plan
You need a communication plan because without it, people will manage your
project for you. They will be "helpful" in some very disruptive ways. Your
communication plan should include tie-ins to project re-scheduling, resource
leveling (managing other people's time, which should fall on business
managers), change management, status reporting, and risk management, among
other things, depending on your needs.

This plan may be a brief, one-page document, but you need the document to
let others know how to communicate within the project. I've seen a lot of
political wars that could have been prevented with a communication plan and
usually the people causing the wars are the "helpers."

Develop Change Management and Risk and Contingency Plans
You need to be able to handle changes and issues that can impact your
project. This may also be a brief document, but you will need it.

Manage the Project
There are things required for project management in addition to what I've
mentioned, but the primary needs are an inventory of deliverables, a
schedule for completing those deliverables, and a mechanism for reporting
status, like a weekly email to the project sponsor that includes current
week's tasks and accomplishments, issues, and next week's tasks.

Managing the project requires assigning tasks to their respective resources
and monitoring and controlling the project, among other things.



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Training for Management: From: SB

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