Business Skills

Project Management Skills: 14 Useful Methods For Project Analysis And Planning

Project management skills

They range from the simple task lists/time tables and action plans to complex ones such as Critical Path Analysis.


1. Risk/impact probability chart

- prioritizing risks

- X axis (impact of risk)

- Y Axis (probability of occurring)


2. Scheduling simple projects

- using task list, time tables and action plans

- or, create a work back schedule, the date by which the project is to be completed and then reverse listing of all the tasks, with dues dates for each


3. Gantt charts: Help you schedule projects with dependent stages

- First, create a table - column headings are

- Task, possible start date, length, type of work (sequential/parallel), dependent on (name of another task on the list - if applicable)

- Then create a chart

- With earliest task and time needed and so on...color code them to represent the different resource types you will use


4. Critical Path Analysis and PERT: Helps you schedule complex projects

- First create a table like in a Gantt chart (search Google)

- Then draw the Critical path diagram using circles (tasks) and arrows

- Search Google. It also needs practicing.


PERT is a variation on critical path

- uses a formula to calculate time for each project stage

- (shortest time + 4*likely time) + longest time)/6


5. Action Planning: A process that helps you decide what steps you need to take to achieve a particular goal.


Where am I now? Review your achievements and progress, and undertake self-assessment.

Where do I want to be? Decide your goals.

How do I get there? Define the strategy you will use to achieve your goals, and to break down your goal into the smaller discreet steps you will need to take to achieve your target.

Taking action. Implement your plan!

Where am I now?


Set a goal and write it down. Whatever the goal is, the important thing is that you set it, so you've got something for which to aim- and that you write it down. There is something magical about writing things down. So set a goal and write it down. When you reach that goal, set another and write that down. You'll be off and running

- Professor Robert Cialdini, 'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion'


The main steps in preparing an action plan:

- Have a clear objective: ‘Where do I want to be?’. Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound)

- List the benefits you would gain by achieving your goal.

- Start with what you will do NOW. There is no point in having an action plan that will start in six months time.

- Define clearly the steps you will take - 'How do I get there?’

- Break down any large steps into smaller components

- What is the biggest obstacle?

- What type of problems you might encounter at each step?

- What could go wrong?

- Identify the end point for each step and give yourself a small reward for achieving it.

- Arrange the steps in a logical, chronological order and put a date by which you will start each step.

- Try to set yourself weekly goals

- Review the plan two weeks after you have begun action


6. SOSTAC Planning model: The SOSTAC acronym stands for:

Situation analysis - where are we now?

Objectives - where do we want to go?

Strategy - how we are going to get there.

Tactics - the details of strategy.

Action - putting the plan to work.

Control - measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating and modifying.


Now add in the 3M's - the three key resources, Men, Money and Minutes.


Men - men and women, expertise and abilities to do different jobs.

Money - budgets - have we the money?

Minutes - time - what are the time scales, schedules or deadlines? Is there enough time?

- ‘Great Answers to Tough Marketing Questions’, PR Smith


7. Logframes and logical frames approach to planning successful projects

- Covers 7 key areas of the project all arranged on a table

- [Row heads]: Goals (what results do we expect) - Purpose (why are we doing this) - Outputs (what are the deliverables) - Activities (what will we do to deliver the outputs)

- [Column heads]: Indicators of achievement (how will we know we have been successful) - Means of verification (how will we check our reported results) - Risks and assumptions


8. The planning cycle: A planning process for middle sized projects

Stage 1. Analysis of Opportunities SWOT Analysis Risk Analysis Understanding pressures for change

Stage 2. Identifying the Aim of Your Plan

Stage 3. Exploring Options

Stage 4. Selecting the Best Option

Stage 5. Detailed Planning

Stage 6. Evaluation of the Plan and its Impact

Stage 7. Implementing Change

Stage 8. Closing the Plan


9. Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA): Implementing new ideas in a controlled way. Also known as the PDCA Cycle, or Deming Cycle.

- Plan: Identifying and analyzing the problem.

Do: Developing and testing a potential solution.

Check: Measuring how effective the test solution was, and analyzing whether it could be improved in any way.

Act: Implementing the improved solution fully.


10. Planning large projects and programs

- e.g. PRINCE 2 (projects in controlled environment - in the U.K.). Search Google.


11. Kotter's 8-step change model (change management)

- Step 1: Create urgency

- Step 2: Form a powerful coalition (convincing them that change is necessary)

- Step 3: Create a vision for change

- Step 4: Communicate the vision

- Step 5: Remove obstacles

- Step 6 : Create short term targets

- Step 7: Build on the change


12. Stakeholder analysis: Working out whose support you need

- What do they want? what are they interested in? what do they think of you? how do they want to be informed...?

E.g. Your boss, team, clients, customers, government, press/media, future recruits, family...

- Create a list

- Prioritize

- At one end you will have high power/interested people whom you will have to manage closely...and at the other end you will have low power/less interested people whom you will monitor

- In between there are people you will keep informed and some you will keep satisfied


13. Stakeholder management: Communicating to win support for your projects

- Create a table

- [Rows]: Stakeholder names

- [Columns]: Communication approach, key interests and issues, current status (advocate, supporter, neutral, critic, blocker), desired support (high, medium, low), desired project role (if any), actions desired (if any), messages needed, actions and communications


14. Influence maps: Uncovering where power lies in your projects (aka Social network analysis)

- It is a map with circles of varying sizes, depending on importance, connected with arrows denoting relationships and dependencies

- E.g.; a many arrows might be pointing away from CEO circle

- The direction of arrow shows the direction of influence

- Thicker lines mean thicker influence


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