Even short projects need accurate plans and a managed schedule.

We can probably all relate to projects that we’ve been involved in or even managed that have perhaps not been given the same weight as a major project.

These smaller projects generally start off with a plan, an aim, with objectives that are looking to be achieved. But how well these plans are then managed can have a direct bearing on how well that project is delivered, in some cases maybe subsequently forgotten about.

In the Managing Project Plans section of Shortcuts to Success, author Elizabeth Harrin references that ‘most projects are less than a year in duration and only 14 per cent of projects take longer than 18 months’. With this in mind, to give projects of all sizes and shapes, Elizabeth recommends focusing on the following areas to ensure project success:

  • Keep up the momentum - plan ahead for this, and what you can do if things start to slow down.
  • Plan first,  set end date later - be realistic about timings
  • Manage fixed date projects carefully - plan creatively and use the support of your sponsor
  • Have short tasks - a great way to keep progress highly visible
  • Understand the critical path - maybe look at these tasks first
  • Baseline your schedule - this can help you book resources and monitor progress
  • Make meetings productive - keep these short and focused
  • Delegate sub-plans to workstream team leaders - mostly useful on large projects
  • Manage project dependencies - both inside and outside the company
  • Manage multiple projects at the same time - be aware of the dangers of multitasking

In the book, and an ebook of this section is available from ebook stores such as Amazon, Elizabeth references numerous short case studies to provide examples of how these areas have benefited project managers. Here is one such case study that showcases how one project manager coped with managing 40 projects to closure: Juggling techniques.

In the words of Elizabeth, ‘starting a project is often the easiest part. Keeping it going takes a lot of effort’. Have you found any of the above particularly useful when managing a project? Be great to hear from you.

About the author

Karen Manning joined BCS in 2008 working in the Marketing Team. Having graduated in marketing in the pre-www era, she has relished the challenge to keep up to date with the latest developments in technology and new media.