Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time (Extracted from Wikipedia). Maybe you have engaged with project management somehow in your work and understood the importance of it. However, it is not taught in the school (at least with my major), and mostly it is learned by only doing, so it is necessary for us to have a good understanding of it.
So I will show you a simple systematic framework below and the credit goes to Philanthropy University, where you can find the project management and other free online courses.
1 Project design and setup. This design starts by researching the community that you would like to help, to find out the community’s needs; past and existing projects in the community; the community’s strengths and assets; the stakeholders in the community. After collecting data and information, then you need to understand the problem your project wants to address. Sometimes the problem is obvious but some needed to dig enough to find the root problem. This step is giving you a context awareness and readiness. There are four main things that need to be established during the project setup phase, including establishing project governance; align on scope and requirements; authorize the start of the project; communicate the start of the project. The setup ensures that everyone is on the same page and clear on their duties and responsibilities.
2 Build a project plan. It is a guideline of the whole process and it should be detailed. Project plan at a minimum should account for: Resources: How much money will you spend? How many people will work on this project? Are there any resources you need? Schedule: How long will this project take? What is your milestone timeline? Stakeholders: Who are the stakeholders? How often will you communicate with them, and how? Risks: What are the things that could go wrong? How will you prepare? Learning and Evaluation: How to monitor the process and the results? How to do the evaluation?
3 Manage issues and people. Issues are things might go wrong, so the project manager should create a system for staff to report issues in a safe and encouraging circumstance, and this is all about the team culture. After identifying issues, it is the time to assign a single person to resolve each issue, who has the authority and also resources. To effectively manage people, project managers need a variety of skills, and most of them are soft skills, communication; motivate the team; listen and share; resolve conflict and etc.
4 Closing. Every project needs to close eventually, usually, there are several types of closing ways: Closure: The project activities end completely. Other parties may sustain the impact of the project, but the project team is not involved anymore. Extension: The schedule of the project is extended and project activities are repeated or continued. Expansion: The scope of the project expands, it may due to the big social impact. Redesign: Based on the results of the activities, the project is redesigned and re-implemented.
Those are the basic steps of project management, and it covers so many detailed phases, so I suggest you take the online course and also practice them in your work and learn from doing. No matter which field you are in, project management is a required soft skill and you will stand out from your peer once you grasp it.
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