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A Quick and Comprehensive Introduction to Project Management and Its Advantages – Building the Buzz on Project Management
By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, Founder, Cheetah Learning

You know how important it is. But does the rest of your organization?

We all know the importance of buzz. It’s word of mouth. Viral marketing. It’s when an idea takes on a life of its own. It’s probably what Project management needs in most organizations. It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot in business, but what is it really? And how can you explain it to others? Here are a few ways to talk about Project Management that can help you to get the buzz going in your organization.

What is a Project?

All organizations are made up of processes and projects. Processes are how you get work done on the day to day repetitive basis – those activities that you do to keep the organization operational. Projects are short term efforts you do to meet the organizations strategic objectives. Projects are how organizations implement changes. Here are several examples of why organizations pursue projects:

  • Improve your day to day operational processes (like upgrading your accounting system).
  • Get a new product or service to market.
  • Meet a government compliance requirement.

What is Project Management?

  • A systematic approach to managing projects
  • A way to generate consistent results when you undertake new initiatives
  • A powerful business tool that can transform your business

You can use Project Management (PM) throughout your organization to boost personal and collaborative productivity and ultimately show triple digit return on investment. The key to successful PM is to build a standardized system for doing project management that embeds best practices into how you manage your projects.

Defining a Project

A project is any activity in an organization that has a distinct deliverable and a clear beginning and ending. When you follow a process to do your projects, you achieve greater performance. Project Management methods are easy to learn and can be applied with simple processes, web-based templates and office automation tools.

All Projects Have Five Distinct Phases:

  • Initiation – At any point in time, organizations have more projects than they have resources to do them. During initiation, organizations have to prioritize the projects they will pursue, who will sponsor the projects, and who will staff the projects.
  • Planning – Once an organization decides to pursue a project, the project manager and the project team develop the plans to create the final deliverables.

  • Execution – This is where the project team does the work to create the final deliverables of the project. It is the largest part of most projects and it goes far better if adequate time was taken to properly plan the work of the project.

  • Control – This phase is done in coordinate with execution to ensure the project is progressing as planned, to account for any changes and to make mid-course corrections to keep the project on schedule and in budget.

  • Closeout – During this phase, the final deliverable is accepted by the customer of the project and the project team documents what they learned that can be of value on their next project.

Use Project Management to Grow the Value in Your Organization

The problem in most companies is that there is no set process to do projects effectively and efficiently. From lost time to inconsistency, no process for managing projects means poor performance. PM has the power to transform your business by building a process, tracking performance and helping you to build true best practices that work for you.

Five Ways that PM Transforms Organizations

  1. Develops Exponential Effectiveness: In most organizations, people work on cross-functional teams to complete projects. When people from different departments know and understand a common PM process to get their work done, they can start to work together without having to design how they are going to do it.
  2. Empowers Individuals and Team Leaders: When there is a common, simple approach for PM and the correct tools are available throughout the enterprise, people are empowered to reach their goals, together and individually.

  3. Creates Institutional Memory: Industry standard PM practices require a critical project closeout phase that collects lessons learned and gives your organization powerful historical knowledge from across the enterprise.

  4. Realizes Return on Innovation: An easy-to-use PM methodology gives organizations a framework that makes it achievable for people to move from vision to action with a comprehensive project plan that supports their objectives.

  5. Turns Information into Insight: You capture best practices and know what is and isn’t working in your organization, giving you a competitive advantage by turning information into insight.

ROI: PM’s Impact on the Bottom Line

PM impacts the bottom line. In their CHAOS Report, the Standish Group conservatively estimates that 20% of money spent on projects is wasted because companies don’t have a consistent approach to PM. Research by the CBP shows that PM improvement initiatives improve project performance by up to 50% for the first project and can continue for each new project if the enterprise offers ongoing support with PM tools.

Your PM Power Checklist

  • Know the business drivers and Return on Investment (ROI) for adopting an enterprise-wide approach to PM.
  • Use a simple and proven approach such as Cheetah PM to align the efforts of project teams.
  • Have people at every level of the organization learn the skills needed to effectively use PM to improve their value to the organization. Cheetah Learning’s Project Management Building Blocks to Profits provides training for people at every level of the organization.
  • Get big wins early on by leading with parts of the organization that have the least skills in Project Management and the most to gain by using a simple PM approach.
  • Empower people with tools for successful PM:
    • Select a portfolio of projects that meet the organizations strategic objectives (do the right things)
    • Standardize on a simple straightforward approach for doing projects that all project participants can use. We recommend the Cheetah Project Management methodology. (do things right)
    • Use a simple and effective tool such as MS Project for project scheduling and tracking.
    • Measure the effectiveness of your Project Managers throughout the project by using a tool such as PM Scorecards.

Become a Leader in Project Management

Increase your organization’s productivity with the power of Project Management. Your bottom line will thank you. Get the buzz going on Project Management and watch your career soar

About the Know How Network and Cheetah Learning

The Know How Network is a monthly column written by Michelle LaBrosse, the founder and Chief Cheetah of Cheetah Learning. Distributed to hundreds of newsletters and media outlets around the world, the Know How Network brings the promise, purpose and passion of Project Management to people everywhere. Visit www.cheetahlearning.com to learn more about Cheetah PM, the fastest way to learn about Project Management and get your PMP. You can also get your career in gear with CheetahWare, free Project Management tools from Cheetah Learning.

About the Author

Michelle LaBrosse is the founder and Chief Cheetah of Cheetah Learning. An international expert on accelerated learning and Project Management, she has grown Cheetah Learning into the market leader for Project Management training and professional development. In 2006, The Project Management Institute, www.pmi.org, selected Michelle as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World, and only one of two women selected from the training and education industry. Michelle is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner & President Management program for entrepreneurs, and is the author of Cheetah Project Management and Cheetah Negotiations. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company and has 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide.

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