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The Achiever Newsletter

Project Management:
A Winning Strategy

By Jeffrey W. Drake, Ph.D.

As we begin the new year, progressive organizations are setting goals and developing plans to improve their performance over the past year. Organizations are faced with tighter budgets, less time, and fewer resources. To effectively compete, organizations will need to do more with less. Businesses will have to build products and provide services faster, cheaper, and better. In the process, they will have to get things done right the first time. Increasingly, successful organizations are using project management techniques to enhance their chances of being winners in the very competitive marketplace.

In today's changing marketplace, organizations that use effective project management techniques find that they have the competitive advantage. According to James P. Lewis, author of several books on project management, these companies "have the competitive advantage over those who fly by the seat of the pants." The competition is becoming both time-based and cost-based. Lewis says time-based organizations "can get a product or service to market faster than anyone else." These companies have the competitive edge. In addition, cost-based companies that control their costs using project management techniques can sell their products and services at a lower margin, again giving them the competitive edge.

The goal of effective project management is to deliver a project on time and within budget. The project manager's toolkit includes a number of tools to manage a project efficiently. A key factor in successful project management is to invest sufficient time in defining and planning the project. The statement "plan your work and work your plan" fits project management very well. Once you have developed a good project plan, you reduce the likelihood of problems later in the project, thus saving both time and money.

Seminar participants realize the importance of planning the project when they attend the "Project Management: From Concept to Completion" seminar. This basic seminar helps participants organize their work into projects and helps them build their project management skills. The seminar involves a number of "hands-on" activities where seminar participants work in project teams.

Seminar participants gain an understanding of the phases of a project or the project "life cycle." They begin by having their project team break down the work and organize the tasks into logical groupings using a Work Breakdown Structure. This is a key part of the seminar since the project teams work on this project for several additional activities in the seminar.

The project team further organizes the project in order to complete it on time and within budget. The project team estimates the amount of time it will take to complete the project tasks. Then the project teams use project-scheduling techniques such as Gantt charts and PERT diagrams. These scheduling techniques help project teams to see how the project is progressing and to see if the various steps are being completed on time.

Project teams learn to recognize the causes of project success and failure. By planning ahead and being proactive, project teams can anticipate possible problems and plan alternative ways of dealing with these problems. Project managers can help their project teams develop by guiding them to learn successful methods in writing project specifications, estimating time, developing the budget, and planning project procedures. The more effective the project team is in planning the project, the easier the implementation of the project becomes. Effective planning and teamwork help ensure a successful project. Thus, developing effective teamwork and team pride in the project is also a necessary function of the project manager and the project team. Seminar participants also discuss strategies to handle multiple projects. When the seminar is completed, participants leave with a project management toolkit to use back in the workplace.

Many organizations have taken advantage of this custom-designed seminar to develop both project managers and project teams. The project teams have been able to work on current and planned projects as a part of their seminar experience. The project managers and project teams learn to enhance their project management skills. In addition, the project teams make progress in completing their scheduled and planned projects as a part of this basic seminar.

As competition increases, progressive businesses are realizing the value of providing their project managers and project teams with this type of training so that they can bring in projects on time and within budget. These organizations can see that project management is a winning strategy in a changing marketplace.

Publication Date: Winter 2003

Motivational speaker Jeffrey W. Drake, Ph.D., has made many presentations on subjects ranging from communication styles and leadership styles to empowered teams and sales psychology.Jeffrey W. Drake, Ph.D., is a professional speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a firm specializing in custom-designed keynote presentations, seminars, and consulting services. Jeff has made presentations ranging from leadership to empowered teams and project management to communication styles for a number of industries, including education, financial, government, healthcare, and manufacturing. For more information on Jeff's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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