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Controlling Projects with Project Management Templates

November 22 2007

Controlling Projects – with Project Management Templates

One of the biggest challenges you will face as a Project Manager is “scope creep” using project management templates. That’s when during the Execution phase of the project, the planned scope of work changes, often causing delays and expense.

To avoid this, you need to carefully Monitor and Control your projects, by implementing change, risk and issue processes. Here are some tips on how to do it…

Monitor and Control Your Projects (Part 2)

So things aren’t going to plan because your customer has changed the scope of the project? Don’t worry, this is a normal event for a Project Manager, as many projects are time consuming and while the project has been progressing, the business pressures faced by the customer have changed.

The art is not in minimizing change, but in managing it properly when it does occur. Here’s how to do it…

Monitor Change

The most typical cause of a project going off-the-rails is that the scope has grown out of control, by “osmosis”. The client has asked for changes, the team have had new ideas and your nice neat set of project tasks now look like spaghetti.

To succeed, you need to keep tight control of your project scope, by being vigilant about change. Do this by implementing a change management process. As soon as you identify a request for change in your project, document it formally by specifying where the change has come from, why it’s needed and its impact on your project objectives.

And if the change is likely to affect the target end dates, budget or deliverables, then get your sponsor and customers approval before implementing it. Don’t be afraid to ask for more time, people or money if you need it, especially if the change was initiated by the customer.

Never allow change to run your project. Instead, run your project by managing change!

Control Risks

As a Project Manager, it’s all too easy to roll your sleeves up and get stuck into the project delivery. But when you do this, it’s often hard to keep your head above water. You may end up managing at the micro level and high level risks to the project may pass you by.

It’s hard, but try and remain a little divorced from the detailed day-to-day operation of your project where possible. In this way, you can continually access the overall risk to the project from the outside and pounce on new risks when they appear.

Also, implement a risk management process to formalize the way that risks are identified, assessed and mitigated. For each risk that appears in your Project Management Templates, quantify its potential impact on the project, then take immediate action to minimize the likelihood of it occurring. Always create contingency plans, so that if the risk does occur, you can go to “plan b” and minimize its effect on the project delivery.

Resolve Issues

Resolving issues sounds easy right? The challenge however, is not just in resolving every issue that turns your way, but instead monitoring all of the issues that occur on a project and only resolving issues that are likely to impact on the project outcome. It’s very infrequent on a project that you’ll have time to resolve every issue that crops up — so be picky.

To make sure that you resolve issues in a timely manner, you need to put in place an issue management process. This helps you to review all of the issues that crop up, assess their impact, delegate the ones that can be handled by others and resolve those that are critical to the project.

And there you have it! By managing change, risks and issues, you’ll be able to avoid scope creep and boost your chances of achieving project success!

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