Planning is defined as “a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc.,developed in advance” (Dictionary.com, n.d.). As such, it is the first step in project management. Akin to taking a journey, one must know where you are going, how you are going to get there, who is going, what do you need and how long will it take? There also needs to be an assessment of potential risk. Might the car break down? Might we hit traffic? According to a government business services website (Ready.gov, n.d.), “The planning process should take an “all hazards” approach. Risk can take a number of potential forms and no one can see all the potential pitfalls, but proper planning can prevent poor performance, as the old saying goes, and minimize risk. There are things which we can control and those we cannot.
Since projects are comprised of multiple complex elements, it is likely that good management will require a team of individuals, each with a unique skill set and set of responsibilities In this regard, one way to reduce risks is to have a good way of communicating. Like so many things these days, modern technology has impacted this area significantly. From simple email, to Share Point computer software, to advanced project management programs, many tools exist to support the communication process.
To achieve outcomes on time and within budget, teams need constant access to information, the ability to monitor deadlines, manage data and share documents (Duffy, 2018). One of the most difficult element to manage in the planning and project management process is managing time. This shouldn’t be a surprise in that time is a confusing enigma that even Einstein had difficulty explaining. Like one domino falling over and knocking over another and then others in succession, mismanaging time can have significant ramifications, especially for the budget. The more complex the project, the more likely that multiple processes will be occurring simultaneously and, therefore making management even more difficult.
If one uses a step by step process, such as a Waterfall Model in such a complex system, timeliness can quickly get out of whack. Rather, an agile, iterative approach, breaks projects down into more manageable chunks, shortens cycle times, and facilitates a higher degree of interaction among team members. As such, agile processed have become the “state of the art” process model and is even being used by such a complex organization such as NASA to manage all of their projects (Trimble & Webster, 2012).
Whereas a waterfall approach, like the ADDIE instructional design model, emphasizes:
Agile is a “lean, thinking principle”, which emphasizes flexibility, parallel processes and which anticipates change. The AGILE instructional design may have its roots outside of the world of learning, it is now being widely used by Instructional Designers in all niches (Pappas, 2015).
Dictionary.com (n.d.). Definition of planning. In Dictionary.com. Retrieved from: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/planning
Ready.gov (n.d.). Planning. [web log comment]. Retrieved from: https://www.ready.gov/planning.
Duffy, J. (2018, May 8). The best project management software of 2018. [weblog comment]. Retrieved from: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2380448,00.asp
Trimble, J. and Webster, C. (2012). Agile development methods for space operations. Retrieved from: 2012https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20120013429.pdf
Fair, J. (2012). Agile versus waterfall: approach is right for my ERP project? [web log comment]. Retrieved from: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-versus-waterfall-approach-erp-project-6300
Pappas, C. (2012, April 19). The power of agile instructional design. [web log comment]. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/the-power-of-agile-instructional-design-approach
Project management focuses on planning and organizing a project and its resources (Usability.gov, n.d.). In short, project management is how to get things done the right way. Proper project management can help assure that the purpose/vision and goals of the project are met while supporting the tasks and objectives (Usability.gov, n.d.). Project management has evolved from something which is applied to a particular department or function to a tool which is holistically applied to the entire organization (Kerzner and Kerzner, 2017).
Project management involves a number of elements. The beginning and end of a project is called the “life cycle”. Projects are typically broken down into phases. Each phase outlines the what needs to be done and by whom. Projects are comprised of individual tasks and tasks which are repeated are referred to as processes. According to the Project Management Institute, most life cycles have four or five phases on average (Usability.gov, n.d.).
While project management can be a successful approach to any endeavor, failing to plan properly can sink the project even before it has begun. Most project plans outline:
What is important is to ensure that all of the resources, including people and material are where they need to be, when they need to be there. What distinguishes project management from simply 'management' is that it has a final deliverable and a finite timespan, unlike management which is an ongoing process (APM.org, n.d.).
The “science” of Project Management originated with the US Department of Defense, but is now a common methodology in many fields and subjects, from auto manufacturing to non-profit organizations, as well as education (Kerzner and Kerzner, 2017). Increasingly, Project Management is both a subject in demand as well as an approach applied to education. In this regard, project management means working with Subject Matter Experts, Teachers, Instructional Designers, school administrators and others, to bring a successful project to fruition. Over the next eight weeks, this blog space will explore contemporary issues in Project Management as applied to the field of education.
(Usability.gov, n.d.). The what and why of project management. [web log comment]. Retrieved from: https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/project-management.html
Kerzner and Kerzner (2017). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. John Wiley & Sons: NY.
Miller, A. J., & Clark, B. (2017). Teachers as Project Managers: Leveraging Project Management to Build Exemplary CTE Programs. Techniques: Connecting Education & Careers, 92(8), 32
(APM.org, n.d.). What is project management? [web log comment]. Retrieved from: https://www.apm.org.uk/resources/what-is-project-management/
Russell, L. (2015). Project Management for Trainers. Alexandria, VA: Association For Talent Development. https://www.pmi.org/about/learn-about-pmi/what-is-project-management