How to manage a project?

Planning and managing a project is all about information: collect it, analyse it, take decisions based on it. How you choose to do this sequence will be the ground where your work will flourish. If you choose badly will it mean that the project will not be successful? Well, no. It just means that you will be doing extra work and lose a lot of time to keep track of all that is happening. And you may fail important information along the way. So, you want to have an efficient working system that gives you the information you need at the moment you need it.

There are many project management methodologies that aim to do that: waterfall, agile, scrum, kanban, among others. Apart from the waterfall, these methodologies are more dynamic: planning, execution, and deliverance are pretty much done at the same time. It is ideal for developing technology and commercial products. In the case of research, the most appropriate is waterfall: first there is the planning and then the execution. Planning is important to define exactly what kind of research will be carried out and the steps to do such a research. Adjustments can be made along the way, but nothing as substantial as it is possible in other methodologies.

For managing a waterfall project there are several techniques that you can use like the Critical Path Method 45762-200, the GATT Chart 45762-200, the PERT Chart 45762-200, and the Work-Breakdown Structure 45762-200. There are also certificates one can take to learn how to manage projects like PMI 45762-200 and PRINCE2 45762-200.

That said, you can pretty much forget all the above and just concentrate on what you have and make the most of it. You don’t need to track your project with project management software if you don’t know how to use one. You can use Excel, for example, and make tables suitable to your way of working. The same goes for key performance indicators: choose the ones which are clear for you.

Most importantly, paid attention to your team and find a system that work for everyone. Again, there are plenty of applications aiming to help your team share information and connect online. Make sure you use one that everyone knows how to use or you will end up having an inefficient means to which you have to find alternatives. In addition, adapt your working system to the way people communicate with each other. For example, if your team is in the habit of having lunch together and discuss work at the same time, it is useless to schedule meetings for that purpose. Or if your team works better by sharing files through email, it may be counter-productive to make them share files through dropbox, for example. Work with your team, not against them.


Check other “How to…?” related to project management.


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