Stripping Project Management to Its Core: Executing & Controlling a Project

The standard project management methodology does not spend too much time documenting and recommending what to do when executing a project. And this is not surprising. Executing & controlling a project is all about doing the work you planned and taking the time to step back and think about what you are actually doing, compared to your plans. There’s no need for a big framework. Let’s see how all this works together.

Get the people you need on your team

This might seem like too much common sense but, before starting to execute a project, you need to have a team to work with. Without them you won’t be able to deliver the project. At this step, some project managers tend to rush things and start work even though the project team is not completely staffed. This can lead to problems later on such as rework, delays with delivering areas of the project, etc.

Spend quality time to get the people you need on your project team. Obtain any required approvals, on-board and train them (if necessary). Make sure everybody gets the vision of the project and has a clear understanding of the project’s deliverables. Only then, start working together.

Buy or rent the equipment and services you need, when you need them

Another prerequisite to doing real work on a project, is buying or renting the equipment or services you identified in your procurement management plan. At this step it is important to make sure everything is available when needed. You might be tempted to purchase everything at the beginning but this might be a bit more costly. However, you don’t want to purchase what you need very close to the day when you need it. This can easily cause delays when delivering your project.
Do your best to balance things out and purchase (or rent) what you need, early enough so that it doesn’t introduce risk in case of delays with the purchase, and late enough so that you don’t increase cost for the sake of having everything available earlier than needed.

Do the work

Unfortunately there’s no framework in the project management methodology for doing work on your project. Once you have everything in place, start executing, according to the plans you created. And don’t forget to...

Keep people happy

As I wrote in a previous article, I think projects are a lot about making and keeping people happy. The two most important elements in ensuring this happiness is performing quality assurance and distributing the right information to your stakeholders, in the right format, at the right time.

While you execute, don’t forget to follow the plans you created about quality and communications management. They are key to the success of your project.

Step back and double check your execution vs. your plans

While executing a project, the project management framework tells you to monitor and control what gets executed. If you think about the core of what this actually means, you will see that it is all about taking some time to step back and check what you are actually executing and delivering.

Look through your plans on a regular basis and compare them to what is actually going on with the project. For sure, you will identify points of difference. That’s inevitable!

Decide & Adjust

For each of these points of difference, you need to understand if they are positive or negative. Then, make sure you are clear in understanding their impact to your overall project plan and, where needed decide to adjust.

When I say adjust I don’t mean just "adjust your timeline", which most project managers tend to do. Adjust... your approach, your estimates, your scope, everything that needs adjusting. Many of the elements involved in delivering a projects are subject to change, even when we have the impression that they are not. Keep an open mind when deciding what needs to be changed and how. Also, don’t forget to involve the right people in such decisions and to keep everybody as happy as possible with the progress of your project.

Keep going

Once you decided what to adjust, simply do it and keep things moving. Continue to do the work and repeat the cycle until everything gets delivered.

Related content:

Stripping Project Management to Its Core: (Re)Defining Project Initiation
Stripping Project Management to Its Core: (Re)Defining Scope Planning
Stripping Project Management to Its Core: Closing or... Learning how to Learn

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