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Project manager – part 6 - Systematic approach

Systematic approach

At the end of the day, a Project Manager must be able to produce something that the customer wants.
This must conform to the right quality or performance, on time and at the right price, that is, within budget.
This is not done in isolation.
Your senior managers must believe that you are in control and can be left to manage the project.

The project will be managed by exception as far as the Project Board is concerned.
It becomes very important that you do not forget any aspect of the project.
The only way to do this is to use a systematic approach.
A consistent approach reduces the risk of failure and gives confidence to the project team as they will be clear as to the approach used.

The PRINCE2® methodology uses such an approach.

A well defined product

The aim of any project is to find out what must be done and what hurdles may need to be overcome.
This will not be possible without a formal approach that challenges the user expectations and defines the product for all to see.

Well defined project objectives

In a similar fashion, breaking down the project into stages and then into shorter objectives provides greater control.
However, without a systematic approach definition of the objectives will be loose.
When will they be met?
What are the success criteria for the objectives?
A methodical approach will identify these.

Project can be better understood

If everyone is working in the same manner it helps people to understand the purpose of the project.
This improves motivation and good team work.

Improved estimating

Without a systematic approach task estimation could be extremely inaccurate.
It is important that personnel involved in resource, cost and duration estimation use a technique that provides realistic estimates.
When estimates are realistic there is more confidence in the project which in turn generates greater enthusiasm.

Consistency for monitoring and control

Control cannot be obtained in a random fashion.
The basis of control cannot be held in the experience of one or two people.
Project control and in particular quality control must be systematic.
Procedures must be written down so that all persons are familiar with the standards expected and training becomes easier.

The systematic approach provides consistency in project control

Reassures senior management

A systematic approach is the best method of ensuring nothing is missed when plans are put together.
This gives everyone concerned in the project confidence that is has the best chance of success.

This is what the Project Board and the customer want.
When managing by exception is used the raising of too many issues will signify a degree of poor planning.
The methods used might well be questioned.

Remember, that a systematic approach does not mean a robotic approach.
There is still plenty of room to use judgement and experience to maintain flexibility.
It is the method that is systematic and not the thinking process.

Under PRINCE2 2009 the Progress theme establishes mechanisms to monitor and compare actual achievements against those planned; provide a forecast for the project objectives and the project’s continued viability; and control any unacceptable deviations.

Two of the principles of PRINCE2 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] are managing by stages and continued business justification.
The Progress theme provides the mechanisms for monitoring and control, enabling the critical assessment of ongoing viability. [see Progress - purpose]

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.