Work and Tools of the Project Manager
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Work and Tools of the Project Manager

Focus on the responsibilities of the project manager and the tools he uses for managing his projects.

The project manager has different specific needs of a team member. Beyond the simple planning that is shared with the team, the project manager must manage other major aspects to ensure the smooth running of his project under his responsibility. The topics below require one or more tools to manage them at best. The project manager can not simply share a list of tasks with his colleagues. His role is much large than that.

Initialization of the project

The project manager starts a project by the initialization phase. This phase will allow him to frame his project, define it with the sufficient level of detail that will then allow the start of the build activities by the team. During this phase, he will be assisted by specialists according to his level of technical and functional knowledge.

The project charter

A good practice to start is to write a project charter. This charter will be presented to the members of the steering committee or to the executive if this committee is not yet defined, for validation. The document may also be shared with the team members. A blog article details the project management project charter.

Goals

The initialization of a project also consists in clearly defining the objectives of the project (included in the charter). At the end of the project, it will be verified that all these objectives are achieved. Goals must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound.

Deliverables

A project is performed to make a product. It is time to talk about deliverables. The list of project deliverables should be defined as soon as the project is launched. It is from these deliverables that we will define the tasks to be performed to produce them. The deliverables, or the products of the project, are to be described by associating acceptance criteria: how will we validate that the deliverable meets expectations? This work is to be done with the users and from the beginning of the project. By involving users from the very beginning, the probability of deliverables being dropped is significantly reduced.

WBS and planning

Now that the products are defined, we can list the tasks to be performed. It can be useful to switch to the Work Breakdown Structure template, which makes it easy to define all tasks. We will then rely on the WBS to set dates and create a schedule. The schedule is the result of the scheduling of the tasks, but also the taking into account of the project team (availability of the resources), the experience of previous projects (by positioning for example contingency planning), constraints and hypotheses.

The organization

During initialization, the project team is defined. Human resources are assigned to the project and if possible, an organizational chart will be defined. One can also go into detail of the roles and responsibilities of each, and define a job description.

Risk management

Risk management starts from the beginning of the project. During its initialization, we will identify with the team the risks of the project, then analyze them to define the severities of risks. Depending on their severity, a response plan can be established. NB: Risk management begins at project initialization, but it is an ongoing activity that will need to be continued throughout the project. For this, periodically  the risk plan will be reviewed, the risks reassessed, and new ones will be identified.

Project monitoring and control

When the work of realization begins, the project manager must control the good progress of his project, to make the necessary reporting, to manage the problems, to follow the deliveries, to manage the requests for change, to follow the plan of risks, to make decisions, to communicate to the steering committee. A lot of work, a lot of need.

Progress reports

Reporting is of several types. The project's progression is to communicate to the management but also to the team. The content of these reports will be adapted according to the recipients. The level of detail of the information provided differs depending on whether you are presenting a steering committee meeting and technical follow-up from a progress meeting with your teams.

The action plan, the problems

During the project there are inevitably unforeseen incidents, issues. The project manager must ensure that all these points are noted and followed. He will have to manage lists of problems and action plans.

Progress monitoring

The project manager assigns resources to tasks. But he must also ensure the smooth running of these tasks and help if necessary to face the difficulties encountered. He therefore goes from his schedule to control the smooth running and update the tasks according to the reality of the project.

Changes

It is utopian to think that a finished project will perfectly match what was defined in the initialization phase. Needs, objectives, deliverables may change depending on the progress of the project. And it would take a considerable risk to refuse these changes. However, the processing of change requests must be framed. A change first requires a request to qualify it and decide whether to take it into account or not.

The tools

All this work of the project manager will be efficient if it is realized with adapted tools. These tools should make it possible to optimize the project manager's workload, simplify the use of monitoring data, avoid duplication of information and duplicate work whenever possible.

Gouti.net is a tool for the project manager who proposes a solution for all the topics discussed above. And it will also allow collaborative work with the members of the team. The interest for the project manager is to have a unique tool that is used by the team and the project manager for his specific needs. Via a single tool, it avoids having duplicate information. For example, Gouti allows you to create monitoring reports directly from the planning information, tasks, actions, and problems entered in Gouti. With Gouti, it is also very easy to give visibility to its management, the steering committee on the project and its progress. Gouti was designed by project managers for project managers.