How To Get Ready to Manage Your First Project?

In fact, we all manage a project in our everyday life. Take this simple example: inviting friends to dinner.


Someone in your family suggests the idea to invite the friends of the family for dinner. You think that it is a good idea. A day after, some questions begin to come into your mind: Who to invite? Who could help? What budget you can put on this? When doing that? Etc. Collectively, with your family members, you answer to those questions and confirm the idea. Then, you call each of your friends and say, “hey, we invite you for dinner on Saturday evening”. You give them the details about what time they will come and who else you invite. Let’s say, you initiate officially the project.


Later, you start thinking about how to organize the dinner: you already know when to start and when to finish, but you want to refine how will go during all evening. You raise many other questions with your family members: What will be the menu? When to do the shopping? How to cook? How to set the table? Do you need to call other people to take care of children, how many? Etc. Collectively, you clarify all those questions. Each of you knows what role to play. Ok, let’s call that, plan the dinner.


In the afternoon of the day, you cook the food, set the table, prepare everything you’ll need. Then, it’s time and people start coming. You are happy to welcome them. You put the music you love in the background, people are happy to meet each other and you start with eating, drinking, discussing with each other: you are executing what you have planned for the dinner.


From time to time, you check if the people's face is delighted, or you ask some of them if everything is going well to be sure they are enjoying the dinner. Sometimes, you change the style (that you planned to play) of music when it's necessary. When you notice something wrong, you fix it (in your initial plan) so that everyone enjoys the dinner. Your goal remains the same: everyone has to be happy to spend time with each other and say, excellent, good dinner!. Ok, here, you are monitoring and controlling your plan.


Now, it’s late, people are tired and as planned, want to return home. You thank your guests and say goodbye. After everyone has gone, you clear the table, wash dishes and clean the kitchen. Now, it’s done! Again collectively with your family, you are happy to discuss that dinner asking some questions like: did everything go well as planned? What went wrong and what went well? The next time you invite friends, what will you reproduce and what will you change? Here, you are closing your project. After that, you are happy and ready to go to bed, proud to have spent a great time with your friends.


Now imagine that at work, because you are an expert in your professional domain, your boss tells you hey, our company has this good idea and I want you to manage this project. It could be, for example, an idea of a new product, or a new service, or new software to support the business department. He explains to you the business goals and what are the stakes.  If you have never managed a project from a beginning to the end in a company, you can have a doubt of your ability to achieve that challenge! And you are right!


Of course, like in your dinner project above, you will need to initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control and close the project. But the difference here, is that there is a business goal, the stake is not the same, the budget can be high, many people can be involved and they can be distributed in many different sites or countries, the project won’t be one evening project, etc.


So, things are more complex. How to initiate this kind of project? How to plan it? How to execute it? How to monitor and control it? How to close it?


In fact, each project is unique and have to be managed differently: the company where the project will take place is unique, the business context is unique, the goal is unique, the persons who will work on the project are unique. So, it’s very difficult to answer simply to those questions.


However, the book Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) published by Project Management Institute (PMI) helps with that. It explains the methodologies, tools, and techniques on the project management. To know more, go to pmi.org. That is cool, but, as each project remains unique anyway, it is highly recommended to tailor those methodologies, tools, and techniques to adapt them to your project before starting a project.


Now, let’s come back to you! Do you remember? You are selected to manage a new project.


You can even attend a project management training session to acquire this knowledge. That is good because you will learn a lot about all those methodologies, techniques and tools. The problem is that this will remain theoretical! And in real life, we can quickly get lost when we face the realities of the field.


You would be more comfortable if you have already managed at least one project or even already assisted a senior project manager. Right? But we all had to start somewhere. You can build your first experience with others' experiences! So, what if by reading, you can live the course of a project as if you were in real life? You will then be able to live the application of those methodologies, tools, and techniques as it is done in the field. This will give you a first project experience and reassure you to start your first project with confidence and increase your chance of success. That is what The Project Manager Adventures will allow you to do. To know more, please go to globalinrance.com.


Pierre Kouhozon, PMP and PMI-ACP for agile practices.

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