In the beginning was the project – and then came the Project Manager! If you’re not already aware – becoming a Project Manager does not necessarily mean being involved with a project from its inception. Invariably Project Managers are brought in to take control of a project after it has begun. This can be due to several factors ranging from the company/people who instigated the project suddenly realizing they can’t add the workload of project management to their existing commitments, through to a more serious and potentially dangerous situation for the Project Manager to inherit where the project has descended into chaos! Whatever the reason – going into a new Project Management situation your first job is to establish a credible plan.
You need a plan.
Any Project Manager that is truly worth their pay check knows that the foundation for all of their ensuing work is the plan they put into operation. It will be a very rare occurrence that the plan, if a plan exists at all; that you inherit from the project instigators will be anything like realistic or achievable. Having said that, this is of course the whole reason why you put yourself forward to manage the project – you are a high achiever that not only gets things done, but gets them done right and on time and on budget. How are you going to do that? That’s right – by developing the plan that will rescue the project.
Making that killer plan.
So your planning skills are required from the start of your commission, although planning skills are often acquired through experience and even common sense, there are some project planning basics that can be applied to any initial Project Management plan. The first thing to remember is that a plan is not a schedule but a concise document expressing what you are required to do and how you will achieve those things. The plan not only serves to list the objectives, resources and timescales, inspiring the confidence of all that read it – but it will also serve as a useful health check on what preceded your appointment helping you to identify problems and address them.