Joe J. Ursone, PMP, CSM, MCP, SPC
Manager, BlumShapiro Consulting

You have just been told “We need you to just manage this upcoming project for us.” But you’re not a project manager.  What can you do, where can you turn for guidance on how to start and how to follow through on the work of the project? 

Before you take on the project management responsibility for your city or town, you should consider that the Project Management Institute (PMI) in a 2016 survey found that organizations wasted $122 million for every $1 billion spent on projects.  With municipal budgets as tight as they are and growing tighter daily, you have to find a way to manage projects effectively and efficiently. 

One answer might be to say, “Let’s not do this project and save some money in the process.” But cities and towns still need to get things done and if we take on the project management responsibility, we should try to manage projects as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

The Project Management Institute identified 49 processes in ten knowledge areas spread over five process groups.  To keep things simpler, let’s look at the five process groups for project management: Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing out the work of the project.  A project manager’s prime responsibilities range from setting expectations to engaging stakeholders, from planning and oversight to managing project communications, from the project schedule to the project risks, all the way to acceptance of deliverables. 

Initiating Your Project – This is where you determine the key stakeholders, elicit management and stakeholders needs, wants and expectations, identify the key project constraints (time, cost and scope) and get the project moving by assigning responsibilities and establishing measurable objectives and milestones.

Planning Your Project – Here is where the project organization begins. Needed resources are determined at this stage, deliverables are defined and project team members’ skills are assessed compared to the skills needed to accomplish the project. This is also where expectations are identified, responsibilities determined and baselines set so that progress can be measured.

Executing Your Project – Here, you set the “project plan” in motion by ensuring that the team members who will be doing the work have what they need to do it. Work is organized and the team self-selects individual assignments and sets expected delivery dates wherever possible.  Then with your guidance and coordination, the work gets done.

Monitoring and Controlling Your ProjectOnce the project plan is in motion, it is imperative that you meet regularly with the team and stakeholders to review and mitigate selected risks and identify others. The project is kept on-track through regular team and stakeholder meetings to review accomplishments and to identify and resolve impediments. Regular opportunities are provided for stakeholders to review interim and final deliverables, provide feedback and propose changes. It is also critical to communicate project progress and results as compared to plans throughout the project life cycle to keep stakeholders engaged.

Closing Your Project – Completing a project closure checklist helps ensure all agreed-to deliverables are accepted, no unresolved issues remain and all related expenses have been covered. This is also where performance is evaluated and a final report is issued to all stakeholders. Over time the project will continue to be measured for effectiveness.

These steps can turn you into the effective project manager you didn’t think you could be. Careful attention to each of them is essential, but the end result is an effectively planned and efficiently executed project that will yield its intended benefits.

Joe Ursone, is a manager in our Business Advisory practice working with businesses, government agencies and not-for-profits on issues related to Project and Portfolio Management, business process improvement and technology consulting.  BlumShapiro is the largest regional business advisory firm based in New England, with offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The firm, with over 450 professionals and staff, offers a diversity of services including auditing, accounting, tax and business advisory services.  BlumShapiro also provides specialized consulting services such as succession and estate planning, business technology services, employee benefit plan audits and litigation support and valuation.

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