Project Management Part 1: A Small Starter’s Guide
Projects are set up in every field, especially in the Information Security field. They are created to work towards changes within a company in a controlled manner. Even though many people from different backgrounds are involved in a project, it’s important that there is one person who keeps the overview: the Project Manager. Managing a project can be very fulfilling, but also comes with quite a few challenges in my experience. In this blogpost I will share how I get started when I am assigned the role of Project Manager.
First things first: what is a project exactly?
Everyone has likely either participated in a project before or has a general idea of what one entails.
Even though every project is different, the following characteristics are always found:
- Projects are set up to make a change: A change can be implemented to solve a problem, improve the way of working, respond to an opportunity, comply with (new) regulations, etc.
- Projects are always temporary: A project is created to reach certain objectives. There is no point in keeping a project ongoing after the objectives have been reached.
- Projects are cross-functional: Co-operation is needed from people with different backgrounds, from different teams, maybe even different companies, etc. to accomplish the specified objectives.
- Projects entail uncertainty: The process comes with challenges: things might not go according to plan/timing, the proposed solution might not be possible after all, the budget might be exceeded, stakeholders don’t cooperate well, etc.
You are assigned as the Project Manager: how to get started?
The actual management of a project can differ a lot depending on the content, stakeholders, size, budget, etc. But this is how I try to manage:
- In my opinion, the key word is: organization. You will receive lots of information and need to keep an overview on a hundred different things. It is important that you keep on track of everything from day 1.
- Understand what your project entails. What are the objectives? What is the timeline?
- Identify the stakeholders. It is important to know who you will work with during the project and what their role exactly is. You need to identify all parties involved in the project that you will manage (e.g. your own team members, developers, testers, application owners, your superior, vendors, etc.).
- Create a plan: who needs to do what by when? The more details you can include in your plan, the easier it is to follow it up.
- Inform everyone involved about the plan and the goals that have been set. This is also the moment to let people ask questions to make sure everything is clear.
- Monitor the project progress and report back regularly. Is everything going according to plan? Or do you need to kick it up a notch?
- Communicate! I try to talk to the people who are working on the project on a regular basis to see how things are moving or where they might be stuck. I also report the status of the project on a weekly basis to management, but the preferred frequency can differ for each project/environment.
- Closure of the project and evaluation. If the objectives have been reached and the Board/Client is satisfied with the results, the project can be closed. If not, the Board/client can decide to add this to the next project or close it anyway. You can also opt to schedule a lessons learned at the end of the project as well to look back on what was done well and what could be improved for any future projects.
To be continued in the next article.