Senior Program Manager
As Sr. Program Manager, Sudhakar leads various Task Orders for development support leading cross-functional and multi-disciplinary teams at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Operational Support Center.
When it comes to project management, there are many challenges to keep each project on track and within budget. There are several factors to consider, as well as internal and external elements that may cause a project to derail. However, by taking a few precautions and having excellent planning and execution in place, a PM can lead his/her project to success. Here are five key elements (P’s) of project management, which can help ensure a project or program will move along smoothly:
Planning – Plans May Fail, but the Planning is Essential
Developing a Project Plan is the primary task of a PM. The PM should also establish measurable and trackable success criteria, including accomplishing tasks on schedule, achieving budget targets, confirming that product functionality is satisfactory to the customer, and ensuring government and/or industry regulations are met. Taking care of all the details to lay the groundwork for your project’s success is key. Before the project starts, it is important to make sure that it is based on a solid foundation and that the buy-in from all key stakeholders is secured. Understand their interests and expectations and be aware of how they will determine whether the project is successful or not. The PM will also need to ensure that they are verifying that the project goals are clearly defined, key activities are closely aligned, and that the project scope is distinctly identified, including the roles and responsibilities of the various project team members.
People – Put People First
Once a strong project plan is in place, the PM can start implementing said plan by assembling an effective project team. The first step to team success begins with initial organization assembling and organizing available resources capable of working together as a whole through the integration of individual skills, talents, and personalities. The PM needs to align those skills, talents, and personalities with the appropriate project needs. In general, project failures can be more attributed to people than technology, solution, or any other reasons. Focusing on building better teams through various activities catered to team building, enriching skills, and making team members a better version of themselves will keep a program/project fundamentally strong.
Purpose – “The secret of success is constancy of purpose” – Benjamin Disraeli
The project team is a working unit of individual parts, sharing a common goal, achieved through the structured application of combined skills. It is the fundamental responsibility of a PM to make sure that each individual working on the project is clear about their task and what they are providing upon completion. The purpose is like a glue that keeps each individual team member sticking together with a common goal or objective.
Processes – “If you quit on the process, you are quitting on the result.” – Idowu Koyenikan
Well-defined processes and procedures can largely contribute to a project’s success. Setting up a process in place and managing it involves determining what work is needed to accomplish the project goals, assigning the tasks to individuals, and tracking the status of those tasks. Additionally, project management tools and techniques are the two things that can take the project management game to another level.
Progress – “You make progress only by implementing ideas” – Shirley Chisholm
Making progress is important for a successful outcome on a project. The PM should also ensure a project’s progress is tracked constantly and reported properly and consistently. A continuous project oversight, ensuring that a project is tracking properly against the original plan, is critical to ensuring that a project stays on track.
There is no one best way of managing a project or a program. For every project, no matter the size or complexity, it is the responsibility of the Project Manager to ensure it stays on track the entire time. The simplest way to do so is to manage these five key elements (P’s) of project management in harmony. These are like five fingers of a hand, and if folded together, can make a strong fist.