Are you the new kid on the block in the PPM world? Or perhaps you’ve been working in it for a while and could use a refresher? Either way, there are certain basics – commandments, if you will – of project portfolio management that everyone should remember.
1. Thou Shalt Balance the Four Elements of a Project
Perhaps we should have added a sixth basic: know what the four elements are! People usually remember that it’s important to manage and balance people, time, and money, but they often forget about the fourth element – scope. The project’s scope encompasses the project size, the goals, and the various requirements. What is the project supposed to accomplish? What are your specific goals for the project? These questions fall under the scope element.
2. Thou Shalt Remember that Resources are More than People
Resources include everything from people (project employees, outside vendors, outside laborers), to equipment (vehicles, test and staging servers), to material (computers, instruction manuals). At my work, we’re always talking about being able to see, manage, and measure the entire system of project delivery – well, when we say ‘entire system’, we mean all of the resources.
3. Thou Shalt Manage Your Time
Guess what a common cause of projects running over-budget is? Poor time management. Luckily, most project management software can be a big help in managing your project timeline and schedule. Before you get started on building your project schedule in your software tool, break the project down to the tasks that need to be performed. The project manager should figure out what those tasks are, how long it will take to complete them, what resources they require, and finally, what order they should be completed in.
4. Thou Shalt Manage Your Money
Most PMs will be able to tell you the importance of completing a project within budget. For a lot of people, it shouldn’t be a problem: if you’ve effectively managed the resources and schedule, you should complete your project well within your budget constraints. As easy as this may sound, it’s still something that needs a PM’s attention. Look at a range of factors when it comes to money, not just the outright cost of things: for example, if you’re unsure of the estimated cost of an item, make sure you build a small ‘allowance’ into your project budget. Also take contingencies into account: unusual weather, or problems with suppliers could result a change in the cost of things like vendor services.
5. Thou Shalt Not Forget About Risk Management
Never forget to employ proper risk management! Identify, assess, and prioritize your risks, and find ways to minimize, monitor, and control those risks. Risks can come from a slew of sources: uncertain financial markets, legal problems, accidents, even natural disasters. Again, project portfolio management software can come into play here and help you assess and plan for risks.
Do you have any ‘commandments’ to add to this list?
About Our Guest Contributor
Ally Tutkaluk has worked in project management and communications in the education and science sectors. She currently works in marketing and freelance writing, and is based in Canada.