Project Management: A Practical Approach

By: Josh Lorraway

I recently had the opportunity to take part in the Bluefield Kepner-Tregoe (KT) Project Management course. The course was facilitated by our senior personnel who were completing their accreditation as a KT facilitator. The format of the training course was a workshop scenario that consisted of ten participants. KT defines a three-stage process for Project Management; Project Definition, Project Planning and Project Implementation, which were covered over a three-day period (one stage per day). The three stages fall under the umbrella of ‘Project Communication”, which is key to achieving success and effectively transitioning from one stage to another.

My background is a degree qualified Electrical Engineer with a master’s degree in Project Management. I have predominantly held site-based roles and been actively involved in managing numerous projects of varying scales. I have gained an appreciation for what aspects of project management do not suit the fast paced and agile mining industry.

I initially expected the course to cover an in-depth review into Project Management and the various techniques available for effectively managing projects. After the introduction to the course, my expectations were quickly aligned as the KT process was described as a simplified and easy to follow Project Management process. The focus was clearly on maintaining a practical approach toward Project Management. I have seen first-hand how it is quite easy to get caught up in complicated Project Management processes and hence cause delays to projects.

In the Project Definition stage, the training material provided great insight into the importance of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Previously, I thought a WBS was only required for large and complex projects. This could not have been further from the truth. After completing an exercise in the training course for a simple project, I was able to effectively map out relevant work packages, understand resource requirements, identify responsibilities and sequence tasks. The objectives of the project and how to achieve them was very clear.

A message that has particularly resonated with me from the workshop and the approach that Bluefield takes to managing projects is ‘Protecting the plan, as the priority’. The objectives and scope of the project have already been agreed to and documented in the ‘plan’. In order to effectively protect the plan, the following four questions is what I ask myself if there is a current or emerging issue when completing regular project progress reports:

  1. What is the issue?
  2. What has been done to solve the issue?
  3. What still needs to be done?
  4. What is the potential impact if not done?

It is important to understand these questions are getting asked during the execution of the project and are designed to make the Project Manager continuously think about protecting the plan. The real challenge with protecting the plan is addressing questions like the following in the Project Planning stage:

Project Management_A Practical Approach

 

When going through the Project Definition and Project Planning stages, it is crucial to not only identify problems but realise opportunities that can contribute to the success of a project. A great way of keeping track of problems and opportunities is to complete a Potential Problem Analysis (PPA) and Potential Opportunity Analysis (POA) in the form of a register.

If anybody is looking at getting formal Project Management training, I would recommend this Bluefield  KT Project Management three-day course as a starting point for people who are new to the concept of Project Management and even experienced professionals seeking to gain a new perspective – from a practical point of view.