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How to Manage Projects with No Project Management Qualifications?

If you would like to manage projects but never had a chance or budget available to enrol on any formal courses then this blog and project management toolkit I share below is for you.


You may be asked to create, lead, manage small, medium or large size projects in your workplace (such as a process improvement, website development, customer retention etc) or privately such as a house renovation but not sure how to approach it or even where to manage it.


PRINCE2 is a popular project management qualification that you have to pay for. You can complete a foundation and practitioner course. Many project managers use MS Projects as a tool. All this can be complex for many with hours of training required.


If you are after an easy approach and template/toolkit to use then you you can download my Project Management/Plan Toolkit for all projects below. It is in Excel and easy to use.



This toolkit provides you with the templates required for managing a successful project. Ultimately, this toolkit is yours and should be adapted to help you keep track and deliver!

How to approach planning for a project?

Setting up a project


Start with 5Ws (+ 1 How) to help you planning or to facilitate a relevant planning meeting.

  • WHY. Define the project. Understand the needs/problem or opportunities.

  • WHAT. Understanding the process issue, problem.

  • WHO. Identifying who may have direct or indirect involvement.

  • WHEN. Specific start and end time for a project and all activities.

  • WHERE. Establish a problem location. Where will your project be done? Where will it be delivered?

  • HOW. How will it be implemented?


Why


The very first step in defining a project is to understand what problems or opportunities you are dealing with that require a project plan in place and to ensure a successful delivery. You need to define a PROBLEM STATEMENT.


This step involves understanding the current state analysis, asking questions such as:

  1. How does the business/department/team currently operate?

  2. What are the issues with the current situation/process/customers/clients/products etc?

  3. What are the things preventing the business from achieving its set target?

  4. What are the impacts of the identified issues (loss of profits, sales, customers)?

  5. And many other questions that you can list

The combination of these questions provides a ground for developing and articulating a problem statement.


What


Then discuss WHAT can you do to address the above needs. The more specific you are the easier for you and the group to understand what you are focusing on. It is important to provide clarity and minimise any confusion. Especially when actions start to get allocated to people.


Who


This is about WHO needs to be included, consulted and informed about a project taking place. Complete a stakeholder map exercise where you ensure that relevant stakeholders are invited to relevant progress/governance meetings. Some stakeholders have to be consulted but not necessarily to attend your project meetings and some stakeholders simply have to be informed it is taking place for awareness.


Also use this opportunity to establish your meetings, how often you need to meet etc and who you are accountable to as a group. Establish who can be a project sponsor you are accountable to.


When


Any projects and activities it must have a specific start and end time that is tracked in the plan and changed as and when needed. WHEN do they have to be completed by?


Where


This is around WHERE the project taking place, impact and outcomes.


Project Plan as a Tool to Track Progress

As a project manager you will need a project plan where all progress, minutes, actions etc get tracked. All in one place that above toolkit will definitely assist you with.


Your project plan should detail all the activates required to deliver the project objectives. It's important to get this populated and actions agreed by all action owners at the very beginning. This should form the basis of most of your project meetings, to ensure people are doing what is needed by the deadline set out in the plan.


You can download my Project Management/Plan Toolkit for all projects below. It is in Excel and easy to use.




Risks


Risk management begins with the identification of uncertain or unknown events – these may be threats or opportunities in the delivery of a project. We describe risks using the following: Because…..there is a risk that….resulting in…..


Risks are important and actions should be put in place with owners to ensure they are mitigated or escalated at the earliest opportunity. Risks should be set out at the start of any project and reviewed regularly by the project manager and their team.


Actions


Fairly self explanatory but this is a log of all actions agreed at project meetings or offline, to ensure people are accountable and things get done. It's good practice to circulate this after project meetings to ensure any misinterpretations are addressed and that all are clear on what they need to do.


Issues


An Issue is something which has happened which poses a threat to the project objectives and cannot be resolved immediately within the project.


The key difference between Risks and Issues:

  1. A Risk - is something that has yet to happen for which we will need to take preventative action

  2. An Issue - is something that has happened about which we will need to take some action


Decisions


This is only required if a decision is made that will impact the delivery of the project to cost, time or quality. If a decision is made that impacts a customer then please ensure you follow some sort of a fair decision process and identity relevant stakeholders who need to approve it.


Assumptions


An assumption is a factor which we believe to be true, although it has not been confirmed as such. Assumptions are used to establish the project environment and to provide a basis for planning. Assumptions can add risk to a project as it is possible they may turn out to be false, they may impact any part of your project life cycle so it is important that they are documented and reviewed.


Dependencies


Dependencies can be divided into 3 main types:

  1. Internal Dependencies – these can be managed within the project and reflect how the projects interact to ensure deliver of overall objectives

  2. Intra Dependencies – these are dependencies which are external to an individual project but within the control of the organisation

  3. External Dependencies – these are dependencies which extend beyond the project and as such are outside of the control of the programme or organisation, these might take the form of dependency on industry development or regulatory timescales.

Ultimately it's important that all involved in each dependency are aware and in regular communication.


Change Control


A log should be used to track change requests raised by the project and the outcomes associated with these, for example changes to scope or budget.


Lessons Learned


After any project, you should have a lessons learnt meeting to capture all lessons and what you would do differently next time and share with your teams.


Hope this helps.


If you would like to discuss with me further, please book a coffee call below.

Best wishes

Sanja



A team is discussing a project
Project Planning Team



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