Project Management Process

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Organizations realize many benefits when they have a project management process that is consistently used by all the project managers in the organization. The process does not require a big investment in software, although some components are best done with automation. Many companies do the whole project management process on a PC. But the technical aspects are the easy part. An effective project management process gives executives control of the entire portfolio of projects and guides decision-making at all levels. Crafting the right decision-making processes for your organization and then training the executives, project managers and team members to play their parts correctly is the hard part. Enterprise Project Management Main Page

Steps in the Project Management Process

As an overview, project management begins with initiation of new projects. That is the biggest weakness in most organizations. In an effective project management process, the initiation steps include a brief document of the project’s costs, benefits and its justification. This allows the organization to make decisions about which projects to do and avoid spending time and money on losers. The one page initiation document also allows the organization to set priorities and then allocate resources based on the benefits of a project. Project Planning

Next, the executives and project manager build a project plan using templates the organization provides to minimize the paperwork. The templates also provide consistent project plans and schedules.

The last part of the process is monitoring with weekly status reporting on all projects. This provides central identification of problems and variances so they can be corrected. It sounds simple and it should be to get people to comply. How to Write a Weekly Status Report

The objective is to ensure consistency in how project managers initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control and close their projects. This is not to say that every project will be identical. However, a reasonable degree of consistency allows executives to be more efficient in reviewing project plans. It allows project managers to archive data and that is a key element in improving the organization’s project management results.

Key Components of the Project Management Process

A project management process can include many components. First, the system may provide templates project managers use to develop their business cases, project charters, project management plans, estimates, risk analyses, cost estimates, duration estimates, human resources plans, etc. The idea behind using templates is that the organization of the information is consistent across all projects. Using templates also facilitates archiving the project data for later use.  Project Plan Template

Second, consistently successful organizations don’t reinvent the wheel on every project. They archive project data and use it on subsequent projects. This requires archiving data on the actual amount of work tasks took versus the estimated amount of work. That data can be in the form of a completed work package, “lessons learned” documentation or it can be automated. In either case, the information is available for project managers to use on new projects. It can also include the risk analysis, procurement statements of work and requests for proposals from vendors on previous projects.

project management process

Accessing Data From the Project Management Process

As a  project manager starting a new project, you must put together a great deal of information. You can save a great deal of time if the organization has a mature project management process. You can start by going through the archives of previously completed projects to identify ones that are similar as a whole or that have major deliverables similar to what you anticipate in the new project. Then you evaluate that data from the previous projects.
For example, let’s say one of the archived high-level deliverables was a modification to a financial system that is similar but a bit simpler than the modification required for your new project. That doesn’t mean you can’t use the data from that project. It simply means that you’ll have to adjust the work estimates upward to account for the additional complexity of the new project. You’ll also review the risk analysis from the previous project to see if any of the risks, analyses and responses can be used on your new project. Additionally, you’ll review any procurements, stakeholder analysis, human resources plans, etc. to determine if you can modify the work previously done and save a great deal of time. Lessons Learned Documentation

Implementing a Project Management Process

As organizations strive to improve their project performance and become consistently successful, one of the least expensive steps that produces significant benefits is implementing a project management process. This requires the project sponsors and project managers to agree on the steps and templates to be used as well as the data elements to be archived in the system.  The use of templates and archived data have the largest impact and start paying benefits in as little as three months. Other elements can be added to the project management system to achieve consistency in status reporting, scheduling, variance reporting and change control.

You can learn more about using an effective project management process in our online project management courses. You work privately and individually with a expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.  Take a look at the course in your specialty.

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Author: Dick Billows, PMP

Dick has more than 25 years of project and program management experience throughout the US and overseas. Dick was a partner in the 4th largest professional firm and a VP in a Fortune 200 company. He trained and developed 100's of project managers using his methodology. Dick is the author of 14 books, over 300 articles and director/producer of 90 short project management training videos. He and a team of 25 project managers work with client companies & students across the US and in Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. They have assisted over 300 organizations in improving their project performance. Books by Dick Billows, PMP are on