Project Management Simplified

Welcome to this week’s episode where I make project management simple for you. Hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

Feel free to download all the templates and customize to use it for your own projects

 

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I am really excited to finally share this video with you. It took me quite a while to get everything right.

So, you may be confused seeing a 1 h1-hourdeo, with a title Simplified in it.

Don’t be, just to set your expectations clearly this video has a lot of substance in it. It’s not one of those cooking under 3 minutes videos.

I am going to cover pretty much all the aspects of project management, be it project life cycle, process groups, knowledge areas, WBS, scheduling, cost. So, it’s basically a 10 hour course condensed into 1.

So, my mission with this mini-course is to make project management very easy to understand for you. Essentially, project management is fun but more importantly it is very easy. It’s not a profession on its own. It’s not like accounting, auditing, or even consulting. Project Management is a complementary discipline that helps you run your projects very easily. As simple as that. And the best part is pretty much all professionals be it an accountant or a chemist can benefit from it.

So, who is this video for?

This video is for you if you want to learn how to manage your projects at work. So, it’s applicable to every single professional I can think of. I have never seen any professional in my 10 year management consulting career who hasn’t run a project. It just so happens that sometimes they don’t know they were managing projects. But they were projects indeed. So, if you are looking for a simple enough framework to understand project management and implement at work, then you are on the right place. By the end of this video, I am confident that you’ll be able to add Project Management as a skill in your resume.

Also, this video is for you if you are preparing for your PMP exam, Once you finish this mini-course, the PMBOK guide will be a lot easier to understand.

See, the PMBOK guide is over 500 pages long. It’s a very long book and quite boring I must say. Obviously, I can’t share everything in this short video that exist in PMBOK guide. But if you watch this video without skipping, the PMBOK guide will be so easy to follow for you. Because, it’s all about understanding the fundamentals. Once you understand the fundamentals, everything else just becomes very easy to follow.

When I took my PMP exam, now around 6 years ago, I almost aced it. I scored one of the highest points at that time. And the only reason why I scored so high was not because I spent 100s of hours studying, on the contrary, I just understood the fundamentals. And once you understand the building blocks, everything else just becomes so easy to follow.

So, I suggest you watch the entire video without skipping, but if you are interested in learning certain elements only, then you can look at the description box for the index of the video.

Let’s get started.

What is even a project? It definitely has a sexy tone to it right? Project… I just love the way it sounds. I wonder how cool it must sound in French. Proje…

Well, project is a temporary endeavor to create a unique solution.

Yeah that’s operations.

No

Well, the difference between a project and operations is fairly simple. A project ends. So, it’s temporary. You implement your project, you close it, you create a unique product/service/ or whatever outcome you wanted then you are done.

Whereas in operations, it’s on-going and repetitive.

You may have also heard about the terms program and portfolio. Let me just quickly explain them here. Program is multiple projects put together. Combined. And Portfolio is similarly. Multiple programs put together.

So, it’s project, program, portfolio.

Now before I go further, and dive deep. You need to understand something crucial. To run any project, you need 2 methodologies.

The first one is a project life cycle and the second one is project management process.

Most people confuse these 2. And if these are not clear, you can kiss the PMP certification goodbye. It’s absolutely amazing how many content creators in YouTube confuse these two. They are not interchangeable. You cannot afford to confuse a project life cycle with a project management process.

Don’t worry I am going to make it very simple for you.

Let’s start with Project Life Cycle.

Project Life Cycle is unique to a project, to an industry, to your needs. It’s highly customizable. Think of it like this; a human development is a project.

So, your life cycle is;

  • Conceiving
  • Birth
  • Childhood
  • Teenage hood. Teenage hood. Is that a word? Teenaging?
  • Adulthood
  • And death

Easy stuff right? So, now if it was an IT project. I am not an IT but it would like something like this;

High level design

Detailed Design

Coding

Testing

Installation

And Turnover

This is project life cycle.

The term cycle is a bit confusing here. Because, after you die, you don’t get to be conceived again and be born again. I think. But who knows. Or once you hand over the product to the client, you don’t get to design it again. So, it’s not actually a cycle. It’s just a confusing term they use. It’s sequential. It’s a sequential steps of various phases of a project.

And these phases are unique to your own project, and your needs.

A project life cycle may have 1 phase or multiple phases like the examples I gave earlier. There is no single way to define the ideal structure for a project. For example, one company may treat a feasibility study as first phase of a project, another may treat it as a third phase, or another may not even include it. So, it’s custom made.

I know I said multiple times, custom made, custom made,,, but you’ll soon understand why I had to repeat it multiple times. Just be patient.

Ok, now let’s talk about the 2nd element that you need to run any project. And that’s the Project Management Process, your process groups.  See, if you are following PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge, then your process groups aren’t quite customizable. The processes inside the group are, but not the process groups themselves. You can’t change their order.

So, we have 5 process groups to learn here.

We have Initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. These are kind of set in stone. You don’t play around with them that much.

Now, here is where all the confusion arises.

For those of you, who are interested in taking a PMP test, I will now tell you the single biggest reason why most test takers fail. And it’s all because of confusing this, this what I am about to share. It’s so confusing that even most of the content creators, most of the videos here in YouTube or the blog posts, or the books don’t understand or explain it well enough.

Remember how we talked about the fact that Project Life Cycle is highly customizable.

Now, what we do in real life is, for small projects we simplify things. Instead of attaching process groups to every single phase of the project life cycle, like,

Conceiving – initiation, planning, execution, MandC, closing

Birth – initiation, planning, execution, MandC, closing

Etc

Instead, in real life, we just attach the process groups to a single phase project life cycle. This makes things really easy to run the project.  Less complication.

I mean why make things more complicated than they should be right. There is so much paper work involved.

But here is the confusing part, this doesn’t mean that all of a sudden process groups became project life cycle. Your project life cycle isn’t initiation, planning, execution, MandC, and closing.

If you don’t get this right, I guarantee you that you will fail the exam.

Now we are going to talk about the process groups, and while I am explaining that, I will also run a project for you to demonstrate how it works in real life.

But before I get there, I want to share something quickly with you. It’s about PMP, If you are looking to get a PMP degree so you can advance in your career and get better jobs, don’t. Don’t do that. It won’t really help you as much as you think. Learn project management, it’s awesome. Everybody should learn project management. But don’t you think that by getting a piece of paper, you’ll get amazing jobs, That’s not going to happen. It may even be detrimental. Because, PMI’s project management is just a framework not a methodology, and even the terminology they use is very different than what most companies use internally. So, Instead of spending 100s of hours and a lot of money on a certificate that you won’t even use, I suggest you check out my LIG program and let that program show you how you can achieve the career you deserve. It sounded a bit like an advertisement break but it’s not.

I am very passionate about my LIG program and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Go to The Career Mastery.com and you’ll see the link to register to LIG. Because, as I said most multinational firms have their in-house methodology to follow. So, you’ll have to unlearn a lot of things to learn their way. For example, my employer PwC Consulting has a complex methodology for every single work we deliver. It’s the best in the world and miles better than PMI’s framework or Prince 2 methodology.  So, your future employer will have its own methodology as well. But still, learn the fundamentals, learn everything I’ll share in this video, PROJECT MANAGEMENT IS AWESOME. It’s an incredible practice but a certificate is debatable when you consider the investment vs reward equation.  You want to a better job? that’s not the way to go. You just don’t know some of the hidden strategies to get better jobs, that’s pretty much it. And one final point on this, I have a pretty amazing bonus and guarantee. If you don’t get the results or the jobs you want within 30 days, I will personally work with you free of charge to get you to where you need to be.

Ok, sorry for the break. I felt compelled to share that.

Let’s start with the first process group; and that’s initiation.

Let’s do it.

To make things very grounded, I will use the construction of this boat as an example explaining the process groups.

I could give you examples from my work history. Obviously, as a manager at PwC Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, I ran 100s of projects. But it would create a few problems. 1) I am under strict client confidentiality agreements and 2 we don’t use PMI’s framework. We had our own internal methodology to follow.

So, I think using this boat. Designing and manufacturing this boat as an example will make it fun but at the same time simple.

Now, this applies to project management as well.

For initiation process group, you have 2 important processes;

First process is that you develop a project charter.

And 2nd process is you identify stakeholders.

Let’s start with Project Charter

Project charter is a fairly simple document outlining a few things. It’s like mini project plan. Very simple one though.

Essentially, you are finding an answer to; why you are doing what you are doing.

So, in my case, if I have to develop a project charter for building this boat, it would include my objectives, scope, rough idea for the cost and time, key stakeholders and milestones.

That’s pretty much it.

At the initation stage, you don’t want the document to be very detailed. We need the details later for planning stage.

Speaking of later stages, can you do me a favor, if you liked the video so far, can you please subscribe to my channel. Because if you don’t YouTube will not show my future videos to you.

So, in your case, your project charter may be as simple as explaining why you consider the expansion to foreign markets, why you are considering building that new factory. I’ll repeat once more. This is not the time to go into huge details. Talk about the business case and maybe high level project objectives, major deliverables, and roles and responsibilities.

But I’d like to emphasize something here. If your project isn’t a very large one, try to stay away from having too many details in it.

Then you would ask, why do it?

I mean if it’s not detailed nor comprehensive, it doesn’t have much information. Why even waste time to prepare it?

And if you asked that, it would be a very smart question.

The reason we do that is to have a buy-in. Support from the leadership to spend more time and maybe money to properly plan it.

I mean, as a principle, are you – MY DEAR PROJECT SPONSOR- ARE YOU fine with me exploring this project a bit more? It’s a checkpoint. Your project sponsor may not want this project at all in the first place. If they say no, you don’t start planning. And my friends, planning is no easy task.

So, it’s a great opportunity for the senior leadership to kill the project early on before you spend so much time planning a project that will just end up being a waste. Maybe they don’t want to expand into a new market, maybe they don’t want to have that new factory. So, they kill it off early on.

But I want to open a deep note here. And contradict myself a little. What you need to do, or how much detail you want to include for each process group including initiation heavily depends on your project needs, project scale, and industry. So, if a project is as say creating International Space Station (ISS) obviously your initiation will include a lot more details. It’ll be almost like high-level planning. And the reason for that is because planning such a project, of International Space Station is over 10 billion dollars. Just the planning. So, it will require you to present a lot more information to your project sponsor to get an approval for a “go-ahead”.

Ok, I hope so far so good.

Let’s move on. The 2nd process for initiation process group is Stakeholder Identification.

At this stage, you will again keep it very simple. You will not categorize all the stakeholders based on their influence. You’ll do that later in planning. Now, as I mentioned before, we just want to know if we should proceed or not. It’s a checkpoint.

So, all you do is, create an excel list and list down various stakeholders that you will engage with. The fancy name for this is Stakeholder Register.

In my case, my stakeholders will be;

My wife. She’ll be my sponsor.

Then my neighbors because I’ll do a lot of hammering, and drilling. So, I’ll make a lot of noise. Therefore, I need to include them as my stakeholders.

For most projects, your primary stakeholder is your project sponsor. Who is your sponsor? Who gives you the go or no-go? Who is the project manager? Who are going to be part of the project team? Who are going to be part of project management team?

Ok, now we have the project charter and project stakeholder register  we can move on to planning. Of course provided that you secure the approvals.

Now, we have initiated the project, we got our approvals, and it’s time to plan it. Plan the project.

Planning is a lot more detailed and comprehensive than initiation. We are going to need to talk about some knowledge areas.

So, I suggest you take a break now. Pause the video, go get a cup of coffee, refresh yourself and come back when you are ready. Or you can just bookmark this video, and watch it when you are on top of your focus.

Ok?

Let’s start. So, with planning, we are looking to find answers to 3 main questions;

What are we going to do?

How are we going to do it?

How to know when the project is done?

At the end of the planning process, you’ll end up with a comprehensive Project Plan. And this project plan will include a few items;

So, it’ll include; requirements, and scope.

Work Breakdown Structure (or as we call it WBS)

We’ll have schedule, some form of a timelines,

Then, We’ll have cost and budget

And Quality.

For those PMP takers, let me put a disclaimer here. PMBOK guide includes more processes with their inputs and outputs. I am simplifying things for you here. Let me repeat, if you plan on taking the test based on only what I share with you here, you’ll fail. I am simplifying everything for you so you can grasp the fundamentals. Once you understand these fundamentals, everything else will be so easy for you.

Let’s get going with; requirements,

Collecting requirements is all about “understanding what stakeholders want”. I mean what do you really want? If you remember, we did this with the project charter, right? So, we’ll just take the project charter and give it more details and specifications. what we wrote in project charter, and give it more details.

See, in my boat building project this is super easy as I only have a few stakeholders that matter. Me and my wife.

But if this was a very large project, then you’d have to have a meeting with those primary stakeholders and make sure you include their requirements in the plan. How do you know who the stakeholders are? Well, remember the stakeholder registry?

See, This isn’t a very easy task. I mean collecting requirements is the easiest part. But the difficult part is maintaining your sanity. Because, the moment you start gathering requirements, then everybody is going to want to have the best of everything without consideration for budget, quality, or schedule. And they’ll have contradicting requirements. There’ll be clashes. And especially at this stage, you don’t even know the budget or quality or schedule yet. So, you need to somehow gather the requirements based on your assumptions. And that’s no easy task.

If my wife comes up to me and says, hey let’s buy you a new car! It’s time. She asks What car do you want? The first car I’ll say, I want Porsche 911 GT3. I won’t consider the family budget, or maintenance expenses. I’ll just say what I want. That’s how it is in project management as well. When you ask what your stakeholders want, they’ll shoot for the moon,.

So, as a project manager, you have to keep things on the leash and explain people that there are always trade-offs in life.

Just a small tip here; when you are collecting requirements, there are so many methods available to you; you can do 1 on 1 interviews, you can apply Delphi technique, you can do nominal group technique or other methods. If you ask me, and if you can, just stick to a good ol’ meeting. Get everyone in a room or on a teleconference and gather the requirements collectively. If you do interviews 1 by 1, then you’ll have a lot of contradicting requirements at your hand. Get everyone together, and let them argue let them fight, but the end you’ll have your requirements set in stone.

Next process is Defining the Scope

Defining the scope is all about what is and what is not included in the project. Just like the term; scope… You can only see limited things looking through a scope.

To do that, we need a few documents, we need the Project Charter The one we did during initiation. Then we need the requirements document the one we just finished and any other information we can collect about risks, assumptions, and constraints to define the scope.

Now, defining the scope is one of the most important processes. Because what happens, in reality, is, weak project managers, include everything in the project requirements document and also in the project scope. So, as a result of your project plan just becomes an impossible plan to execute. It’s actually their fault. If they stood up to project stakeholders during planning, the execution would go very smooth. So, when you are doing your scope statement, please bear in mind that what you put in there you’ll be responsible for executing. Try not to go overboard.

Your project scope statement may include product scope, project scope, your deliverables, product acceptance criteria, what is not part of the project, constraints and assumptions.

The more specific you get the better it is. You shouldn’t include anything that is open to interpretation.

Now, we are done with our project scope, let me introduce you to Scope Baseline.

What is this now? Scope Baseline.

So, scope baseline is composed of 3 things;

  • Scope statement
  • Then, we need Work Break Down Structure. I’ll refer to it as WBS from now on.
  • And finally we, need WBS Dictionary.

Don’t worry, these are very simple stuff. And in fact, WBS is really fun to do.

Ok, since we already have the scope statement, let’s move on with WBS then.

Now, I want to stop you for a second and make an announcement here. You can’t afford to misunderstand WBS. Work Breakdown Structure is almost the core of project management. Whatever project methodology like Prince 2 or framework like PMI’s you use, you’ll always have some form of Work Breakdown structure.

it’s important, REALLY really important. You can’t afford to misunderstand this part.

So, I suggest you take another break now. Go get some fresh air and come back when you are ready.

Good.

So, before I start creating a WBS for the boat project, let me tell you what it is; The WBS breaks the project into smaller and more manageable pieces. It’s a top-down effort. You basically just decompose your deliverables. Then we call them Work Packages. Now, I want to highlight one more important thing here.

If you are strictly following PMI’s framework, then work Packages have to be “things”. They can’t be actions. They need to be deliverables, they can be documents, or a building, completed deliverables. things… You know… Completed things… Not actions.

In practice though, this isn’t usually how things are done. Most people use a hybrid model, their work breakdown structure contains, deliverables but also even tasks. So, if you are not taking the test, then just use whatever you want. Whatever makes you feel comfortable and whatever allows you to see the project as a whole.

How deep you go in levels is all about an answer to the following question?

Can  you confidently estimate the cost and time requirements of that work package? Can you say it’ll take 1 week or 1,000 dollars? Can you answer that questions? If you can’t then you need to break it down further to activity level until you can make some cost and time assumptions.

For example, when I look at this boat, I can’t say how long it will take to finish it. But I can estimate how long it will take to laminate it, or do the wood work, etc. So, go as deep as you need to go.

So, let’s do it. Let’s do the WBS,.

You start with the project name as level 1, and then you segment your project into various work components.

So, in my case, my segments are;

Design, Manufacturing, Electronics, Rigging (rigging is the mast, sails, lines, the whole thing), and Testing,

Then we need to put labels on them. So these can be 1.1 for design, 1.2 for manufacturing, 1.3 for Electronics and so on and so forth.

Now this is still too high level right? When I look at this graph, can I estimate the cost or the schedule? Can I say for example, how much it’ll cost me to design the project? No. This means we need to break it down further.

Now for project this small, I don’t need sub segments, but keep in mind that in your project you may need to put in sub segments to break it down more clearly. So, let me start attaching my work packages;

Now, for design;

My work packages are;

  • Find actual IMOCA 60 design. But Deniz, you said no activities, it had to be things. Ok, you are right, let’s rename it; “Acquired IMOCA 60 design”. Good?
  • Design adjusted for scaling down. You can’t just take a design for a 20 metre boat and then manufacture a 1.5 metre version. It won’t sail well. So, I need to increase the volume.
  • Final design completed. This is actually where I actually design it or modify the design I have. There is actually one more thing here. I actually have to know how to design. I had to read a few books here.

So, for manufacturing; my work packages are;

First work package is decide on materials

2nd work package procure them

3rd work package is I need frames.

Then, I’ll create sub segments here.

  • Framing the hull
  • And framing the deck

Then another work package, is that I need to laminate.

Again 2 sub segments here;

Laminate the hull and laminate the deck

Then another work package here is, deck assembly, I need to assemble the hull and deck together.

The final work package as part of manufacturing is Cosmetics;

Cosmetics include sanding and painting.

Now, let’s move on to Electronics;

First work package is; decide on components and procure them. I’d like to merge them under one work package as I can easily estimate the cost and time investment at this level.

Second work package is; assembly.

Next move on to next segment, rigging. Rigging is this whole part, the mast, the boom, sails; mainsail and jib or genoa, then shrouds, mainsheet, the battens, the whole thing.

For this segment, my work packages are;

  • Decide and procure items on the material list. Again, because I can estimate easily, I don’t need to break it down further.
  • Electronics installed

Next segment is Rigging. Now, for rigging.

I need to decide on materials and procure them again.

Then  obviously I need to install the items.

Now for testing;

I need to test the electronics, the rigging, and I need to have a pool trial to make sure it floats and no water goes inside, and if all is fine, then I’ll have the sea trials.

I just want to repeat one more thing here

OK, now we finished creating our WBS. I want to know talk about the importance of this document once more

Everything happens after WBS in our planning process group is directly related to WBS. For example, project costs, schedule, risks, everything is calculated by using this chart. We do not calculate the costs or the schedule for a project as a whole. We do that at work package level using the WBS.

Before we move on to other processes, I want to remind you of something I mentioned earlier. Do you remember Scope Baseline? Hmm? Do you remember what it was consisted of?

Let me just remind you once more;

  1. It’s project scope statement
  2. WBS
  3. And WBS Dictionary

We covered the first 2, and it’s time for the WBS dictionary. Once we have it, then our project scope baseline is completed.

Ok, what’s this dictionary thingy.

Imagine this, if we don’t define these work packages properly, then we are prone to a scope creep. What is scope creep? Scope creep is basically, scope extending its boundaries. Remember the Porsche 911 GT3 that I wanted from my wife? So, that Porsche 911 GT3 becomes GT3 RS – basically a higher model. So, if you don’t control and keep the leash scope keeps on expanding. Stakeholders will always push you to do more by stretching your scope. So, as  a project manager, you have to prevent it. Especially in the planning stage, because, once the planning is over, you have to execute it.

In simple terms, WBS dictionary is what puts a definition to every single work package, as a result, scope can’t be stretched.

Now, I am going to talk about Time management, and Cost management. For those of you who are preparing for a PMP test, you’ll know that there are few more knowledge areas including human resources, communications, risk management, quality, and procurement.

I am not going to cover them here for a few reasons.

  • I don’t think they need explanation. They are fairly easy to understand once you read the PMBOK. And 2) They are very intuitive. You don’t need me to teach you about procurement or human resources. The only exception to this is Risk Management. That’s not very easy. But I won’t talk about risk management here because I will probably have a dedicated video on it. I don’t want to spend an hour running risk management simulations here.

Plus, for most of you running small projects you don’t factor in risk management anyways. I mean you are aware of the risks, but you don’t go out of your way to spend a week on preparing risk registers.

So, I’ll focus on – in my opinion – more essential ones here;

Alright, let’s continue, let’s continue with time management.

Now we need to go back to our WBS.

And start giving estimates for how long a particular work package will take. Here’s an important point for you. If you can’t confidently estimate how long a work package will take to complete, then you should break down your WBS further to activity level. This part is fairly easy and fun to do. You just need to sit down with your project team and start giving your assumptions.

Once you are done estimating these, the other fun part starts, and that’s putting them in a sequence. Now, for PMP takers, you need to resort to PMBOK guide for boring details of Finish to start, start to finish, etc.

In reality, in practice, we do it with help from MS Projects. It makes things very easy to layout. It also gives us the critical path which is one of the things you need.

For everyone else who are managing relatively smaller projects, you don’t even need MS Projects software. All you need at this stage is a Gantt Chart.

Gantt chart is awesome. It makes things so simple.

Gantt chart is a very easy way to list activities or work packages in a suitable timescale. Each work package or activity is represented by a bar and the position and length of the bar shows us the start date, duration, and end date of the activity.

You can use MS Projects, MS Excel, or even manually on a PowerPoint if you want to. It really depends on how complex your project is. Our project here isn’t particularly a complex one, so I don’t need to use MS Projects for it. There is a high likelihood that your project will also not be very complex, so let’s just do it manually in PowerPoint.

If you are still with me by this point, please consider to subscribe to my channel. Yeah please do that. Shooting these videos aren’t easy, it’s very time consuming. So if you subscribe and hit that bell icon you’ll be notified when I release new videos. If you don’t then YouTube won’t show my future videos to you.

Oh you can also download all the templates I used in this mini-course from the link down in the description box. You may need to register though. I am not sure. I haven’t figured it out how to do it yet.

Sorry, I digress. If you subscribed already, let me now talk about 3 things very quickly that you’ll hear a lot.

Fast tracking a project means performing more activities in parallel. So, you see more bars along the same vertical axis.

The other term you hear a lot is called project crashing. Crashing in simple terms is shortening the durations of activities by adding more resources.

For example, if 2 workers finish the work in 30 days, then how long does it take for 4 workers to finish it? Obviously, 15. If you said 60, please go get some fresh air, wash your face, take a break and come back. You need a break.

So, this is called project crashing. But it comes at a cost right. Cost of additional resources. Additional money. You’ve probably seen those huge towers being built in China in 30 days, right? Yeah that’s what they do. They crash the heck out of the project. That’s how they achieve such speed.

Ok now we are done with this, let’s put our schedule plan in our master project plan and move on with costs.

The next in line is; cost management. Now for this piece, we’ll take out our WBS again.

But this time instead of giving durations, we’ll give our cost assumptions for each work package.

So, we’ll do a bottom up estimating. We do a detailed cost estimating for each work package. This is essentially very similar to what we did for the schedule management.

Once you have all the costs added up, the direct costs, indirect costs, variable or fixed costs, then you can create a budget.

For those PMP takers, keep in mind that there are a few more steps for you. For example, you need your risk register and risk contingencies to be included in your budget. Not just that actually, you also need your management reserves.

So the way it works is you roll up,

Get your cost estimates for activities,

then work packages,

then you’ll have a rough idea of the project cost estimate.

Once you have it, you include contingency estimates which comes from your risk studies, and that gives you your cost baseline.

Then you include the management reserves and voila you have your cost budget.

For 99% of us, we don’t really do that in practice. We roll up the cost of each work package, put a 20% contingency reserve and we are done.

we are done with planning. I left out a few knowledge areas that you could include in your plan. For example, you can talk about your human resources plan, who should be part of your team, your communications plan, and other stuff. I just don’t want to get into them here as I believe they are fairly intuitive. The only exception is I guess risk management and that’s a tough one. But that’s for another video.

Alright, so far we are done with Initiation, and Planning. It’s the fun part now. The Execution! Yaayy J

Now, we are going to execute this

The purpose of the executing process is to complete work we defined in the project management plan and meet the project objectives.

This is where we do the work.

Your focus now is managing your team, following the processes, and managing information exchange as the project manager. Your job is essentially guiding the team to stick to the plan you created. If you have done a good job with planning, executing is the easiest part.

Although it takes the longest, as much as 10 times more time you spent on planning, it’s the easiest part. But if you haven’t done a good job with the plan, then the execution will be a nightmare.

So, in execution, if you are not the one doing all the execution work, there are a few things you need to be doing constantly, for example;

You need to constantly manage the expectations of all stakeholders. You need to protect your scope. Because you’ll quickly realize that stakeholders will want you to gold plate. Do you know what it is?

Gold plating is in simple terms, making changes to a project that are outside of your scope. You know instead of getting grade B quality material as you agreed, your stakeholders now want you to get Grade A quality. Now, this is a problem because you didn’t factor that in your budget or time estimates. So, as a project manager, you need to prevent scope creep. Protect your scope. Your scope is like your national flag. You protect it against all unnecessary change requests. You resist.

You can evaluate it and put it in consideration if it’s really valid but don’t just take it as is and change the execution. For those PMP takers, please pay attention to how change is handled in execution.

Ok, now this was execution. The next process group is called Monitoring and Controlling Process Group.

Monitoring and controlling means measuring the performance of your project against the plan, managing your change requests, and making sure you are hitting your KPIs if you have included them in the plan.

An important aspect here, monitoring and controlling starts with the execution process group. So, they run in parallel. So, you monitor and control when you are already executing it. It makes sense right? How can you monitor once you finish the execution. It’s common sense.

So, what do you monitor and control then”?

You monitor your scope, you make sure no scope creep happens, you monitor your schedule and forecast if you think there’ll be delays. This is particularly easy to see because you already have your project time plan project schedule, remember we even put it on Gantt chart

, Then you monitor your costs, quality, risks, and procurement.  Again this is fairly simple, for example you finished a particular work package, you can just always look back and verify if you were within the allowance. If you weren’t then you look for root causes, what happened? Why did we exceed the budget or the schedule? Then obviously you solve those problems so they won’t repeat. And you make sure you document everything.

For PMP takers, please pay extra attention to Earned Value Calculations. It becomes particularly important in this stage. I want to quickly touch on earned value here.

Earned value is Total Project Budget Multiplied by the % complete of the project. For example, you have budgeted 1 million dollars for the whole project. And you have finished 20% of it. So, your earned value is 200,000 dollars. Now, this is primarily used for construction and software projects, and an important concept by PMI.

But in real life, it doesn’t hold much value other than few industries. And the reason is the value gained cannot always be assessed along the progression of the project. What does this even mean?

It means; It’s not always a linear progression. Most of the time, actual value of a project goes like this . o, it’s not linear. It’s a power curve.

But in reality, in real life, your growth is a power curve. because most projects show exponential growth instead of a linear one. And they get compounded results every month. And their calculation is a lot more difficult than a simple y=mx+b. To calculate it,  you need growth/ decay formula And no project manager is going to run that every week. It’s very similar to how we calculate compound interest.

Ok, before I bore you to death, let’s move to Closing Process Group.

Actually, no. I want to explain this A BIT MORE. The exponential growth to you. Because, I believe you’ll benefit from it.

So, let’s take my YouTube channel for example.

Let’s call this project, project 100,000 subscribers. That’s what I love to achieve. At the moment, I have about 19,000 subscribers.

Let’s say I get 500 subscribers per week with 20 videos, if I have 40 videos provided that I maintain the quality, I will not have 1000 subscribers per week. It’ll probably be 2000 per week or a lot more. Because it gets compounded. Just like your money in your savings account.

See, if you calculate your earned value based on your execution, I mean I am still executing 1 video per week, but the output just became exponential. So, it grows at a rate greater than a linear curve.

So, that’s how most projects are in real life. And if you still haven’t subscribed, please do subscribe…

Alright, sorry I digressed a little bit there. So, the key takeaway is whatever your project is, don’t quit just because you don’t see the results now. They will come. And when they do, they will come like this

Let’s do closing. Let’s close this project.

Now, we finished the product.

Is the project finished? I mean the product is finished. But the project?

No, it’s not. There is still some work to be done. Not much but we still have to do certain things. Mostly boring admin work.

So, what do we do now.

Well, what you do is really customizable to the needs and complexity of your project. But in general, these are good starting points.

  • One; We hand it over to the client if it’s a project you did for a client. You need to basically get a sign-off from the client.
  • Two; Finish procurements. Meaning, you need to make the final payments and complete your cost records.
  • Three; Gather your final lessons learned. This is basically documenting what went wrong and what did we learn from it. You probably can’t see it on the camera, but this boat isn’t perfect. The bow of the boat is actually not straight. It’s leaning towards the port side, left side. Yeah a few lessons learned here J
  • Four; You release resources, let your team members go back to their own teams.
  • And five; finally… go celebrate…

Thanks for being with me the past 1 hour. I hope you benefited from this video. And if you did, please share it with your friends and professional network in LinkedIn. And if you share it in LinkedIn, please feel free to send me an invitation to connect. I’d love to connect with you.

And finally, as I mentioned earlier, if you are looking to make a big jump in your career and explore working for multinational companies, consider joining my LIG program. That’s where I share some of the advanced strategies to getting yourself employed by multinational firms. It delivers great results.

See you next week,