Let’s talk about Project Management (or PM as some of us say). Ok, it might not be the most exciting topic of conversation; but, let’s give it a try, shall we? To add clarity to this blog-talk, I will provide you with a sample project.
Party Invitation Project
Of course, we begin with a basic Bubble-Chart Format (Yes! That’s the official name. It’s proof that Chart-makers can have fun too!) As you can clearly see, the Project we need to Manage is Create Party Invitations with the steps defined in the Chart. The Chart shows that we have broken the project into three main tasks; and, then specified the subtasks required to complete each task.
We move quickly to the very common, and popular Project Timeline. The line denotes the time defined for the project; in this case the range of time is one day.
I need to reveal that this is blog-tale does not have a happy ending. This project was not well-managed and so it is a lesson in what not-to-do. The fact that the timeline spanned just a single day is a sign of the non-success that follows. The timeline did not allow for, well, it did not allow for much of anything. According to experts Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, a project has four Life Cycle Phases as defined in their book “Project Management: Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling Projects.
- Conceive phase: an idea is born
- Define phase: a plan is developed
- Start phase: a team is formed
- Perform phase: the work is done
- Close phase: the project is ended” (2008, p. 76)
Because of the time constraint, the Party Invitation Project jumped from Conceive Phase (1) to Perform Phase (4) with the result that frustration overtook the project team necessitating a return to Define Phase (2) then back to Conceive Phase (1) for re-evaluation of the idea, and back to Perform Phase (4). Around this point the Project Team realized that they wanted to consult an outside expert; alas, there was not time for such an activity.
I did not follow the advice of Portny to create a Linear Responsibility Chart which they define as “a matrix that depicts the role that each project team-member plays in the performance of different project tasks.” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 95) If I had created such a chart, it would have looked like this:
See a problem? Notice who the team members are? Yep; the Guest-of-Honor and ME! So, who oversees the graphic design, who does the proofing-reading, who creates a prototype? – – ME. This meant that I was alone on Accomplish Project Day. Alone as I bounced between the Phases of the Project Life-Cycle.
Project “Post Mortem”
Greer, in “The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock your Projects!” says that “It’s important for project managers and team members to take stock at the end of a project and develop a list of lessons learned so that they don’t repeat their mistakes in the next project. Typically such reviews are call post-project reviews or ‘post mortems’.” (Greer, 2020, p. 42)
And now I reveal the scary conclusion:
- I wasn’t proud of the finished product (the invitation). I did not like the design or the images used – but I did not have time to do any re-creation.
- In the Perform Phase (4), I realized that I needed to distribute the invitation using several medium (e-mail, fax, Twitter, and Facebook). Again I did not have time – and I did not have a team mate to help me re-work the composition of the invitation so that I could be assured of successful distribution.
- In fact, the project was completed on time.
- In fact, the product (invitation) did succeed in conveying the party information.
- In truth, I would approach a similar task in the future with the mind-set of someone managing a substantial project, because the mis-management of this simple project turned it into a substantial stressor and ultimate disappointment.