How Project Management Works

The requirements for any project should be developed by the project manager with consultation from senior executives, user groups and, if applicable, customers.  In general, the requirements can be broken out into three basic categories – a statement of the scope of work and specifications for the end result of the project, milestone schedule, and a schematic that shows the logical structuring of the tasks and activities necessary to complete the project. 

The statement of the scope of work should identify the goals and objectives of the project, briefly describe in narrative form the work required to complete the project and identify the material funding limits and other constraints.  The length of the statement of work will vary depending on the size and importance of the project and for small projects may be no longer than a couple of sentences.  It is important, however, for the project manager to prepare a statement for all projects regardless of size. 

As the name implies, a “milestone schedule” is timeline, with target dates, of the major milestones that need to be achieved in order for the project to be completed.  The actual milestones will depend on the particular project and, for example, a project focusing on new product development might include the following milestones: design review meetings, completion of initial product testing, availability of prototype, completion of procurement and receipt of required licenses for sale of the product.  Delivery and presentation of major written and oral reports to senior executives may also be included on the milestone schedule.

The description of the work structure necessary for completion of the project will depend on the specific project; however, the goal of the project manager in developing the description is to break the project down into manageable sub-projects stages that can be priced, monitored and controlled.  For example, if the project is the introduction of a new product the project manager might segregate tasks and activities the sub-projects might be identified as sales promotion/advertising, pricing, market test, manufacturing and training.  In addition, the project manager should list the important tasks or activities for each sub-project.  With respect to training for new product introduction the list of tasks or activities might include selection of salespersons, selection of distributors, training of salespersons, training of distributors, printing of literature, dissemination of literature to salespersons, and dissemination of literature to distributors.  Note, of course, that activities such as dissemination of literature to salespersons and distributors cannot be done until the sales promotion/advertising sub-project is completed since that is the time when the relevant team members develop and finalize the literature.

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