Here’s a great article by Brian Tracy that you might find useful for both in tackling your projects, as well as helping some of your clients… [Reprinted with the consent of the author]
Practical Project Management
By: Brian Tracy
Some skills are peripheral to success. It’s nice to have them, but they don’t make much of a difference one way or another. There are other skills, however, that are absolutely essential to your fulfilling your potential, and you must develop them to a fairly high degree if you are to achieve all of your goals.
One of these absolutely essential skills is the ability to manage projects of various sizes. Project management is a function not just of those who build hydroelectric dams or construct huge skyscrapers. You organize and engage in a project each time you go shopping at the grocery store. If you are in sales, every prospect you are working on developing into a regular customer is a project. If you are going out for the evening with another person, you are planning and organizing a project.
When you decide to become excellent at project management, you begin to apply a systematic process such as the one I will describe. Your ability to achieve multitask jobs is to control everything else you accomplish. And it’s not that difficult to learn.
GoalsIn any project, the first thing to do is start at the goal and work back. Every project begins with your clearly defining exactly what you want to accomplish and what it will look like if it is accomplished perfectly.
For example, let’s say that you decide to take a two-week trip to the Caribbean next winter. This is a project. You begin by defining what an ideal Caribbean vacation would consist of in every detail. You think about the hotel, the beaches, the daytime and evening activities you enjoy, the kind of people and service you want to experience and, of course, your budget. With all of those ingredients, and perhaps more, in mind, you come up with a clear description of the perfect winter holiday in the sun.
You next make a list of everything that you will have to do in order to achieve that final goal. You investigate the various Caribbean islands you could visit. You call more than one travel agent, to find out if there are particular packages, including airfare and hotels, that you can purchase at excellent prices well in advance. You plan your budget and determine where and when you will get the money that you require for this trip. You consider your work responsibilities and think through how you will arrange being away for two weeks without your company or your clients suffering at the time.
Once you have determined exactly how you want the goal to look when it is complete, you set specific dates and deadlines, starting from the departure date back to the present. By doing this, you have a clear time line from where you are to where you need to be on the day that the plane takes off.
The next step in project management is to organize your list of all the things that will need to be done for you to get to your goal — the completion of your project. There are two ways to organize a list in project management. The first way is sequential. This is when one step follows another. The first must be done before the second can be started. The second must be completed before the third can be started, and so on. These are often called dependent activities. One depends on the successful completion of another.
The second type of activities in project management is parallel or concurrent activities. These are tasks that can be worked on at the same time, separate and apart from other activities. For example, if you are planning a new brochure or newsletter, you could be writing the copy at the same time you are selecting paper stock or gathering possible photographs to illustrate the content.
Select & Delegate
Once you have the goal in mind and have listed everything that you must do to achieve the goal, and organized everything in terms of whether it is sequential or concurrent, you are ready for the core exercise of effective project management. It is the key to your future in the world of work. It is the process of selection and delegation. The bigger the project, the more people, the more specialists in different fields, will be required to carry it through to successful completion. Your ability to select the right people and then to delegate effectively to them will determine your success or failure. A mistake in selection or a miscommunication in delegation can be enough to derail the entire project or to set it back, or to have it run over budget.
You can use project management to develop a new account, to increase your income, to attain a high level of physical health and fitness, to plan a vacation, to move across the country, to start and build a business, to write a book, paint a picture or sail a catamaran around the world.
In every case, the proper use of project-management techniques, such as those we have discussed here, can give you the winning edge. It can enable you to kick in the afterburners for your life and your career. The skill of project management will enable you to move ahead further and faster than you ever could without it. Although the steps to project management are simple, the skill of project management is complex, and it is vital to your success.
The cumulative results of your developing the skills of project management will enable you to accomplish bigger and bigger tasks with greater responsibilities and greater income¾with greater rewards of all kinds. Project management is a powerful key to the future.
About The Author
Brian Tracy is legendary in sales addressing more than 400,000 men and women each year on the subjects of management, leadership, and sales effectiveness. He has produced more than 300 audio/video programs and has written over 26 books, including his just-released books “TurboStrategy,” and “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.” He can be reached at (858) 481-2977 or www.briantracy.com.