The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management (Fast Forward MBA Series) | Eric Verzuh

Summary of: The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management (Fast Forward MBA Series)
By: Eric Verzuh


Dive into the world of project management with ‘The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management’ by Eric Verzuh. This book summary explores the framework and skills needed for a successful project, emphasizing the importance of clear goals, collaborative planning, effective communication, controlled scope, and management support. You’ll find insights on how to build a project from the ground up, from generating a proposal and garnering stakeholder approval, to creating critical documents and incorporating agile development methods. Discover the vital role of each stakeholder and how to create harmony among project cost, schedule, and quality, all while maintaining strong management backing.

The Framework of Project Management

Project management is a framework with five factors to deliver business value. These are clear goals, a strategic plan with well-defined responsibilities, effective communication, controlled scope, and management support. Success also requires alignment with corporate strategy and a skilled team. Managing projects is different from ongoing operations and involves a clear beginning and end, with a specific product in mind. The longest phase is execution, and the project must close to review and archive data for future developments. Project management is a disciplined framework for achieving objectives and delivering value to the parent organization.

Managing Stakeholders in Projects

Projects must align stakeholders’ interests towards a common goal and deliver on the defined outcomes. This summary explains how project proposals gain stakeholder approval, who the stakeholders are, and what documents the project manager must prepare to keep stakeholders aligned.

Projects are born from ideas to improve products or processes. Executives within the organization, not project managers, originate the project and submit an idea to management for approval. Ideally, project managers should be involved before approval to help establish a baseline for measuring progress. A useful proposal explains the core reason for the potential project, the balance of expected costs and expenses, and begins to articulate the future state that will be achieved if the project is performed. Stakeholders make the decisions about a project, and they include the project customer, project team, functional managers, and corporate management.

Resource managers must assign the right people from their departments to the project team. Project customers must work with the team to define what the project should do and satisfy them since they will pay for the project and will be most affected by it. Managers with decision-making authority are important stakeholders since the project will affect their departments, and they also represent other stakeholders, including the customer.

Developing the critical project documents and seeking stakeholder approval is critical. Project documents must identify stakeholder’s expectations. The charter is the first document that gives legitimacy and formal recognition to the project and the project manager’s authority. The statement of work sets out the project’s goals and criteria for success; lists the purposes, scope, and deliverables; and includes cost and schedule estimates, acceptance criteria, key stakeholders, and the authority structure. With clear communication and aligned interests, the project manager can deliver on the defined outcomes.

Effective Project Management Techniques

Develop a solid plan, control project progress, and use agile methods to improve project management outcomes.

To successfully execute a project and achieve stakeholder objectives, it is crucial to establish project rules and obtain their approval. The next step involves creating a plan for executing the project and measuring its success, while mitigating potential risks that may affect the project’s success. The key aspect is to identify points of uncertainty that might cause project failure and be aware of risks that could affect the project’s ability to meet stakeholder objectives. Risk management comprises identifying, analyzing, prioritizing, and developing a response to reduce damage or the likelihood that the risk will occur.

Along with the risk management plan, a “work breakdown structure” should be established to divide project work into manageable tasks. This makes it easier to assign responsibilities, measure progress, and complete tasks more accurately. For the successful completion of the project, it is vital to identify critical tasks. Use these critical tasks to develop the project’s critical path and schedule each task’s required resources and time.

Agile development methods like scrum are useful frameworks to manage projects, especially those with incremental deliveries. Scrum is a tool for delivering value quickly and managing uncertainty during the project duration. It helps projects that may not always be clear, especially with software projects where the path to meeting customer expectations is not always straightforward. Such projects can deliver a partial product rapidly, obtain customer feedback, and make additions or changes to address customer issues.

In summary, a solid project management plan, proper risk mitigation, and effective project control in combination with agile development methods such as scrum can assist in improving project management outcomes. A project manager must blend the art and science of management to build a strong, committed team while making progress against the plan.

Crafting a Comprehensive Communication Plan

Communication is a crucial aspect of project management. Creating a comprehensive communication plan that outlines how information will be disseminated can keep stakeholders informed, help manage expectations and cultivate collaborative problem-solving.

The project manager must create a strategy for providing key information to the right people at the right time. This allows them to ensure that project information flows seamlessly. Determining who needs what information, how to distribute it, and who should provide it are all essential components of the communication plan. Project meetings, updates, and task assignments ought to be included in the plan, ensuring progress can be tracked.

Stakeholders are fundamental to project success, and for each stakeholder, their involvement in the project must dictate how communication takes place. Sponsors should be regularly informed of progress, while customers should have their expectations managed by being kept up to date. Project rules, including reporting lines, must also be established to support effective communication.

Effective communication within the project team promotes good teamwork, which is critical to project success. Providing project information to the group and communicating individually with team members ensures they remain committed to project goals. Effective communication can also establish trust among team members, creating a foundation for collaboration and problem-solving.

In conclusion, a comprehensive communication plan is essential in successful project management and requires a clear strategy, well- defined roles, and continuous teamwork.

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