Strategic Project Management Made Simple | Terry Schmidt

Summary of: Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams
By: Terry Schmidt


Embark on an insightful journey with Terry Schmidt’s book, ‘Strategic Project Management Made Simple: Practical Tools for Leaders and Teams’. This summary aims to equip you with the necessary knowledge to effectively manage projects, big or small, by addressing common mistakes, understanding the significance of strategic questions, and utilizing useful tools like the Logical Framework (Logframe). Recognizing the importance of stakeholders, designing well-structured projects, and measuring progress are essential skills to be explored, resulting in better team-building, cooperation, and overall project success.

Strategic Project Management

Effective project management is achievable regardless of the size of the project. To succeed, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the project’s goals and what constitutes a successful outcome. Fuzzy objectives, lack of context, using the wrong tools, disregarding stakeholders, inadequate planning, and failure to harness your team’s strengths all lead to poor project outcomes. The traditional task-oriented approach to project management can lead to poor results because it fails to account for the big picture. A savvy project manager knows how to plan effectively, and it is crucial to ensure that project leaders understand the project’s strategic intent. With the right tools, team, and planning, a well-designed project can be realized.

Four Critical Strategic Questions

To ensure a project’s success, start by answering four fundamental questions: why is it necessary, what will success look like, what factors contribute to success, and how will you achieve it?

The first question requires a clear understanding of the project’s purpose and goals and to ensure everyone is on the same page. Simply assuming what it is about could be detrimental to the project’s success. The second question centers around defining success and the metrics used to measure it. It’s easy to measure the wrong things, which could lead to wrong decisions. For the third question, explore the bigger picture and analyze the external environment that could either assist or hinder your project. Finally, with a solid grasp of the first three questions, you might break down each step required to fulfill your project’s objective.

By answering these questions, you’ll develop a profound comprehension of your project’s purpose, metrics, external environment, and milestones. These will help you achieve a sustainable and feasible project, with a higher probability of obtaining the desired results.

Using a “Logframe” for Effective Project Planning

The book emphasizes the importance of using a “Logical Framework” (Logframe) chart for effective project planning. The chart consists of a four-by-four grid showing a project’s objectives, measures, verification, and assumptions, and its goals, purpose, outcomes, and inputs. By filling in this grid with data from strategic questions, one can compare adjacent boxes using conditional reasoning to ensure all project elements align. The Logframe is a foundation for project framing, evaluation, team learning, and creating IT structures. It is not a detailed action plan but should be used at the project’s beginning, especially for projects outside the organizational culture.

Creating a Logical Project Plan

To ensure that the end results of multiple projects feed into each other, it’s crucial to link each project to the overall strategy. A collaborative design model is well-suited for success, rather than a project manager-led approach. The book proposes eight steps to create a thorough and effective project plan, ranging from clarifying the project context, including stakeholders, seeking constant improvement, distilling goals into core strategies, executing the plan, updating, and following up as necessary.

Mastering Project Management

Project management requires careful analysis and clear objectives to achieve success. Each problem must be converted into an objective, with detailed root cause analysis. Outcomes and purposes should be separate objectives, with outcomes being the results of the project’s work and purposes being the impact created when goals are reached. Time, people and assets are the three major resources to be managed. Careful selection and measurement of results are important instruments for intelligent project management. To prevent negative outcomes and encourage beneficial ones, core conditional assumptions must be identified and analyzed using cost-benefit analysis. With the proper management of external influences, projects can be completed on time and within budget for a rich fulfillment of objectives and purposes.

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