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Project Management for Small Projects

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It can seem that project management methodologies are all about the process and not about getting things done.   Sometimes it’s tempting to make it simpler, make it lighter, or skip a step or two. Project management methodologies are intended as a tool to make you successful, not as a means to an end. It’s okay to simplify for a small project and deepen for a large complex project, or even a program.

What do you see happening?

This challenge is all about initiation; the point when you look at the purpose of the project and start planning the planning.

A small project can be defined as a short timeline – up to 6 weeks, or as having only one or two deliverables. The definition tends to be different for each organization, but the problem is the same. If you look at the initiation documents and in your mind, there′s an imbalance between the outcomes and the methodology, you can simplify the methodology.

How can you resolve it beyond treating symptoms?

The main symptom here is your gut feeling. You need to ensure that the simplification is about the project, not about your workload. I′ve occasionally made it about the workload and quickly realized that I cut corners rather than adjusted the process appropriately.

Let′s assume you′ve correctly identified a need to simplify, now how do you do that?

Remember that the minimum you need is:

  1. A clear understanding of what is expected – scope statement
  2. A good estimate of the work involved – schedule
  3. A clear understanding of how success will be measured – completion criteria
  4. An agreement on reporting status – communication plan

Using this concept, you can tailor the methodology up and down depending on the size of your project.

A final thought:

When you simplify for the right reasons, you are able to proceed through the project life-cycle. When you do it because someone wants the project in a rush, or you are overloaded, or the scope is not fully investigated, you will have to come back and fill in the holes. Plan now or plan later, you will still have to plan.

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