You have the plan, now time to get started!
With the initiation phase complete – it’s time to execute! The high level plan will be your schedule, the activities will be sequenced and the critical path identified and costs will be your budget. Do bear in mind that you may wish to allocate some budget to either schedule or management contingency to ensure that you have a buffer to respond to problems as they arise. Normal contingency amounts are in the range of 5-10% of the estimated budget.
The critical parts in the build up phase include:
1. Assembling the team
2. Setting the schedule
3. Developing the budget
Assembling the team
Having assessed the activities using the Work Breakdown Structure this should give you a clear view on the skill sets and resource types needed for the project. Depending on the current team you may not have all the necessary resources on deck so you may need to recruit additional talent. Also be prepared to persuade / influence to get access to the right resources either internally in the organisation or via external channels i.e. vendors, contractors etc.
Note – Recruiting the best team possible is probably one of the most important factors in successful project delivery and should be at the top of your list. This point cannot be stressed highly enough! Also remember the startup motto for recruiting talent “Fire fast and hire slow….!”. If you have the right team who have the right attitude there is nothing that you cannot achieve!!
In certain cases a project manager chooses some or all of their team. If your team is assigned then as PM you will need to assess the new team members skills to ensure a good fit / capability. If any gaps exist then be prepared and have budget to uplift the teams capability via training.
Managing performance is also key to success, if you have team members that aren’t a good fit then you need to make some tough choices as to whether they can succeed in their current roles or whether they need to be reallocated. Again be prepared to focus on performance and invest time building a high-performance team.
Kick off meeting
Once the team is assembled run a kick-off meeting to ensure that all team members are on the same page as to what the project is trying to achieve. Also worthwhile is to have the sponsor and program or project board members attend as well, this enables the team to really get the importance of the project. Also set out any other information that you think people will need to know in terms of operating rhythm and expectations.
Schedule Tips and Tricks
Use the WBS as a guide for creating the schedule structure, again keeping the activities achievable, realistic and time bound. Also identify if there are any constraints that would impact certain tasks, if these are known then develop approaches to minimise delays or alternatively build in schedule contingency. Also worthwhile is to run regular schedule reviews with the team and key suppliers with overdue reports so it is clear when activities are likely to be late.
Use good scheduling resources and techniques to clearly identify the schedule critical path and manage it closely, this will be key in minimising delays. When scheduling ensure resources are not over allocated. There are a number of different techniques for scheduling (PERT vs CPM vs GANT) review these and decide which is most appropriate for your project.