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The Project Reference Group

The Project Reference Group
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

The project reference group is a number of stakeholders brought together to discuss and deal with operational issues for the project. Members may be part of the main project team, but, also, clients/users who will be impacted by the outcomes of the projects. Reference group members should:

  • Bring operational issues from their areas to the reference group meetings.
  • Look for collaborative solutions.
  • Disseminate needed information and actions resulting from the reference group meetings to their areas.
  • Act as a team for the sake of the project.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a highly successful Australian university with an applied emphasis in courses and research. Based in the city of Brisbane with a global outlook, it has 40,000 students, including 6000 from overseas, (QUT Statistics) and an annual budget of more than AU$500 million. Courses are in high demand and its graduate employment rate is well above the national average for Australian universities. Read the Complete Article

Post Implementation Review – PIR

Post Implementation Review – PIR
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

All major projects require a Post Implementation Review (PIR) after completion. The PIR may be requested for any other project, for example, if more information is needed than detailed in the Project Activity Completion Report.

The sponsor should make arrangements for the Post Implementation Review (PIR) when the project closes, as required.

Recommended composition of PIR team for a major project:

  • Chair (Not usually the project manager)
  • 1 steering committee member
  • 1 independent member from the client area
  • 1 project team member

Composition of a typical PIR team for a minor project:

  • Project manager as organiser and leader
  • 1 independent member

The review should take place within a time frame appropriate to the nature of the project, often within three months, but as long as six months for a large project.

The review should evaluate the way the project was run and assess whether the projected benefits have materialised or will be realised in future. Read the Complete Article

Project Cost Control – Best Practices

Project Cost Control – Best Practices
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

Comparing the actual project cost against the original planned cost is a customary method of determining whether a project has been successful. As with other elements of a project, costs are subject to change.

All project costs should be recorded against the project and reported to the steering committee. The project manager’s responsibility is to ensure accurate reporting and suggested remediation so that the steering committee has all the information needed to act correctly. The steering committee must approve and authorise significant changes to the budget or kill the project.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a highly successful Australian university with an applied emphasis in courses and research. Based in the city of Brisbane with a global outlook, it has 40,000 students, including 6000 from overseas, (QUT Statistics) and an annual budget of more than AU$500 million. Read the Complete Article

Project Status Report

Project Status Report
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

Projects are dynamic. The Project Status Report indicates the areas of a project that may vary as the project proceeds: integration, scope, time, cost, quality and risk. Decisions may then have to be made to adjust the other areas to compensate. If the schedule slips, then resources may be increased to bring the project back on schedule to meet a critical deadline. An increasing focus of attention in the report is risk management with review of project risks in each report. Changes in or new risks may explain the need for variation in the project.

The Project Status Report is a tool for reporting on progress of the project suitable for inclusion as a standing agenda item at steering committee meetings. The report has a visual aspect that is valuable for a quick examination of the status of the main project areas. Read the Complete Article

Project Monitoring – Project Management Controlling Phase

Project Monitoring – Project Management Controlling Phase
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

The Project Plan should have included a schedule for steering committee meetings and other key points to ensure regular tracking of project progress and release of status reports. Additionally, the plan should have identified milestones and project kill points, that is, go/no go decision points for the action of senior management, the steering committee or other authority.

Steering committee meetings may be scheduled around milestone and kill point dates, and while meetings are not formally required on a specific timeline (eg every 4 or 6 weeks) it is expected that at least one meeting will take place within a 3 month period. The project manager should prepare a Project Status Report for the committee. Additional material may include specific highlights and achievements, as well as a visual representation of stages of completion of the WBS and other issues such as cost status. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Controlling Phase

Project Management Controlling Phase
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

Definition: ensuring that project objectives are met by monitoring and measuring progress regularly to identify variances from the plan so that corrective action can be taken.

Controls show that the project is producing the required results (that meet predefined quality criteria), is on schedule in meeting its targets using previously agreed resources and funding and remains viable against its business case. Controls balance benefits against costs and risks.

In conjunction with the execution phase, the project manager will be watching the progress of the project and ensuring that variances from the plan are identified and reported on and using a Project Change Request if required.

The project manager, the project team and the reference group will handle operational issues and minor variances. The steering committee will take action on major issues and deviations, which are strategic. The project manager should prepare the presentation of information for the steering committee to make informed assessments and decisions. Read the Complete Article

Planning Phase – Project Communication Plan

Planning Phase – Project Communication Plan (#5 in the series Planning Phase)
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

A separate communication plan may be provided, using the Communication Plan template1, as appropriate. The template comprises tables for training strategies, and marketing and communication strategies. A well-developed and comprehensive Communication Plan using both tables meets the change management needs for most projects. Keep in mind that managing change is required in all projects to some degree because change is embedded in all projects.

Communication is a critical component of every project plan because it provides the vital link between the project, the client and success. When developing a communication plan it is essential to answer the following questions:

  • Who will be impacted by this project?
  • What type of change does this project represent, is it only going to affect one department, or the entire organization?
  • When is this change scheduled to occur?
Read the Complete Article

Project Manager Responsibilities

Project Manager Responsibilities
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

  • Manage the project taking into account integration across all areas.
  • Engage with stakeholders.
  • Develop Project Plan.
  • Direct project resources.
  • Monitor and manage the project schedule.
  • Monitor and manage the project budget.
  • Monitor and manage the project risk.
  • Deal with operational issues.
  • Organise steering committee meetings, including ensuring that minutes will be taken.
  • Report to the steering committee, raising strategic issues.
  • Prepare Project Status Reports and Project Change Requests for the steering committee.
  • Ensure project meets requirements and objectives .
  • Manage project team members.
  • Negotiate and resolve issues as they arise across areas of the project and where they impact on other activities, systems and projects.
  • Look after the interests of the project team.
  • Organise and chair project reference group meetings, as appropriate.
  • Communicate project status to project sponsor, all team members, and other relevant stakeholders and involved parties .
  • Maintain project documentation.
Read the Complete Article

Planning Phase – Risk Management Plan

Planning Phase – Risk Management Plan (#3 in the series Planning Phase)
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

Projects are by their nature dynamic and risks, as well as their ratings, will change as the project progresses. New risks, unidentified in the early stages, often emerge over time. Therefore, the project manager should review the Risk Management Plan (RMP) regularly and make changes and additions. The evolving RMP through the execution of a major project should be included as part of steering committee meeting papers. For all projects, a review of high risks, otherwise notable risks and changed risks should be specified in the Project Status Report.

A typical overview of the Risk Management Process outlined by the RMP is as follows:

  1. Establish the context: start the risk management process with a clear understanding of the operating environment. In establishing the context it is essential to identify and scope all influences (internal and external) which may reasonably impact your organization.
Read the Complete Article

Planning Phase – Project Plan and The Work Breakdown Structure

Planning Phase – Project Plan and The Work Breakdown Structure (#2 in the series Planning Phase)
By Michele Berrie, Queensland University of Technology

Project Plan

The Project Plan is a document that describes and brings together the components of a project. In effect, the Project Plan is the guidebook for all to the project. All aspects of the project should be covered, although the level of detail depends on the size of the project.

Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a foundation document in project management and all projects should contain at least a high level WBS that shows the main project products or phases with the main tasks. Then, the WBS can provide the basis for planning and managing the key areas of the project. Risks and costs may be referenced against the WBS, as well as time frames and milestones.

Project plans for larger projects should develop multi-level WBSs. Read the Complete Article

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