Project Management Can Be Broken Down Into Seven Easy Pieces

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Richard Feynman was arguably this best physics teacher in America. This was discussed in his book, Six Easy Pieces, which simplified physics for the novice. Good project management, like good management principles, has seven easy pieces.

The first easy piece is planning for the project. This can be done using automated tools like MS Project and MS Word and is usually culminated by the Project Plan document. In fact, Roger Pressman suggests that there are standard project management documents that are life cycle deliverables on any project in each phase of the life cycle. Some organizations like the US Navy require a document at each project milestione. Click here to view some of our downloadable files available in the Media Gallery.

The second easy piece is organizing. There must be a project organization in place to work on the project. Leadership should ensure that the organization is matrix oriented. Organization requires leadership.

The third easy piece is communicating. There needs to be communciation on the project using automation and any other means possible. There should be at least one connection between each node in the organization network of people. Without people, communicating the project goes nowhere.

The fourth easy piece is controlling. The project needs to have budgetary controls by the project manager. Funds and money into the project keep it alive. When the funds are cut the project suffers.

The fifth easy piece is directing. The leadership needs to direct the project in a way that will bring deliverables to fruition on time and under budget. This can be informal or formal direction and includes project and customer meetings.

The sixth easy piece is evaluating. The project needs to be evaluated as it progresses so that future projects do not make the same mistakes and so that future projects are conducted in a similar fashion. If the project evaluation says the project is over budget and unrecoverable then the project must be terminated. Evaluation is ongoing.

The seventh easy piece is staffing. You have to hire good people who will carry out the project tasks. The people have to have the right experience to fit the project requirements. Recruiting godo people may be hard but it is essential to project success. The timelines for hiring most people are also critical. You have to offer potential employees a good deal to stay with you for the long haul which means good benefits and work conditions.

The seven easy pieces of project management also apply to program management, contract management, and general management - which are all kissing cousins. You can memorize the seven pieces by the acronym POCCDES which is exactly what I did for my masters degree comprehensive exam back in 1988. I have never forgotten the seven pieces of management and I offer them to anyone who wants to improve their own managerial abilities. Like Dr. Feynman, we can make a difficult subject easy and fun.