Start with the End in Mind

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Start With The End In Mind

Luis E. Torres, PMP San Rafael, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Congratulations! You’re a Project Manager of that Dream Software Project everyone wanted to manage. All the company’s expectations are placed on your shoulders. Your instinct tells you to run to your desk and start drafting the project schedule, right? Well, there are a number of things to do first to increase the chances of delivering a successful project. One of those things would be: “start with the end in mind”.

First, take the Statement of Work (SOW), the Contract, or any documentation that would tell you what the customer wants and needs. Find the difference between “wants” and “needs” (I want an SUV, but what I need is a smaller vehicle with good gas mileage). Now you’re in a better position to combine both and answer questions like: “What are we trying to accomplish?”, “What would make this project a success, for the customer, my company and for me?”, “What would it take to achieve that success?”

There’s a lot more to the answer of this last question than just “a reasonable profit”. You want the customer to come back to you, you want the project team members to want to work with you again, and you want to become the beacon of reference-ability.

The right attitude and the right people management skills are paramount to your success as a project manager. Call a kick-off meeting with your project team members and review the SOW to gain a common understanding of what must deliver.

Next, define the scope of the project, the work breakdown structure. Identify the quality parameters you must satisfy. Develop the schedule. Figure out how much money you will need. These elements (scope, quality, duration and cost) will be the basic ones you should monitor and control and are the cornerstones of your project plan.

Once you break down your project into manageable pieces, you must identify what characteristics the final product must have to satisfy the project’s quality requirements. After you have properly sized your project (scope) and what “rules” must be complied with (quality) you will be in a better position to determine how long it will take you to finish it.

To find out how much time you will need to complete the project you need to determine the duration of each individual task; the dependencies among each of those tasks; the specific constraints; and the resources available to you. Cost comes last in this, since it is usually a function of the work you need to do, and the time and resources you will need to complete that work. For example, if you hire a consultant to perform a specific task, it will not cost you the same amount if that individual is scheduled to work for one week that it will if he or she will be working on your project for, let’s say, 10 months. Finally, consider procurement, communications, and human resources.

By starting with the end in mind, you have a much better chance to be successful.

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