Effective project management is broken down into four P’s: people, product, process and project. These principles can be attributed to web, software, marketing and so on. Communication and collaboration is all about the people. The product must address the correct problem. A sound process keeps the project efficiently moving forward, and a project plan provides a road map to success.
Understanding the four P’s can greatly improve your project’s chances for success. People is the first and most important part of any project and identifying how people impact a project is crucial.
Identifying the roles people play in almost any given project is the first step to a successful project. People are the primary resource on every project, and a well-conducted team can greatly increase the chances for success.
- Executive leadership define business issues which influence the project.
- Project managers plan, motivate, organize and lead a development team.
- Development teams can range from programmers, designers, analysts and many other skills. These teams engineer the product or application to see it to completion.
- End-users interact with the final product. These could be customers or internal users. The work you and your team are doing will ultimately reach this group.
Leadership is another integral, but less talked about, part of project management. A project manager should feel a sense of ownership on the project and take to heart the aspect of leading a team. Key attributes of a team leader include:
- Encouraging people to work to their best abilities through motivation.
- Use new and existing processes to move a project forward to a successful end through organization.
- Diagnosing technical and organizational issues or having the ability to change directions in a project if things don’t go according to plan through problem solving.
- Taking ownership of a project and knowing when to read or allow team members to follow their instincts by influence.
“Not every group is a team, and not every team is effective.” – Glenn Parker
Organizational structure is not always within a project manager’s control, but the organization of the team and their responsibilities within the project itself is within reach. Developing an effective team structure may be based on several project factors:
- The complexity of the problem being solved.
- The lifetime of the project and the team.
- The deadline of the project.
- The degree of communication required for the project.
Regardless of how the team is structured, the project manager’s objective is creating a single cohesive unit. Clearly defined roles, tasks and objectives gives the team a single vision to work toward.
Think of how a football team runs an effective offensive play. The players on the field have defined actions they attempt to execute the play flawlessly. The center hands the ball to the quarterback and the entire team sets in motion. Wide receivers have specific routes they run while the offensive line has a blocking scheme it’s executing to protect the quarterback. The quarterback passes the ball to the (hopefully) open receiver to gain the yards required or ultimately score a touchdown. Everyone on the team knows what the outcome should look like and what their jobs are to make that outcome possible. A project manager coordinates her team in a similar fashion.
Coordinate and Communicate
Communication has the power to cause a project to excel or whither and die. One of the most common reasons for a project failure is a lack or failure to communicate. Communication can be interpersonal or between systems that need to speak to each other to get a desired result. Documentation, meetings, phone calls, email and even wikis are forms of communication that can be found among project teams. Depending on your development or production model (agile, waterfall or standard) you may have different ways to use any of these tactics to reach your goal.
Pressman, Roger S. (2005). Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
This concludes Part 1 of the Four P’s of Project Management. What experiences can you share regarding People in project management?