I attended the Bluefield Kepner-Tregoe (KT) Project Management workshop. The workshop was about a specific methodology to approach Project Management. Like many engineers, I have managed projects before, but I have not had any formal training. This type of ad-hoc Project Management is generally successful, but usually not elegant and sometimes can be stressful.
Our Bluefield instructors, John and Brent, took us through 13 discreet steps to Project Management. These 13 steps are broken down into 3 stages, all of which are under the umbrella of ‘Project Communication’.
The first stage is ‘Project Definition’. This is the most important part to get right to have a successful project outcome. Unfortunately, it has been my experience (and most of the others in the class as well) that the nominated project manager is often not involved in this stage. As this stage defines the project objectives, work structure and resources, the manager should obviously be involved here. One of my learnings from this course was to go back and re-visit this stage (before the project starts if possible), to make sure the structure and resources make sense. This is the time to identify potential problems and solutions and open communications with the project owner or sponsor.
In the next stage, ‘Project Planning’, I realised that my Project Management method usually skips straight to a GANTT chart, scheduling the tasks and resources. This course made me see that there is much more to it and that you can identify any pitfalls or opportunities earlier, rather than waiting for them to present themselves.
‘Implementation’ is obviously the last stage, and here too I found that I (and probably most of us…) usually skip the most important step of ‘Close Out and Evaluate’. Once the project is over, it seems less important to re-visit, however with repetitive projects such as mining equipment overhauls, this is the opportunity to make the next one better and easier.
In this course, all the participants had common backgrounds and knowledge. There was a wide range of practical experience in the room, but also a variety of native languages represented. While this didn’t cause any problems, it did highlight the need for effective communication and the possible challenges around communication in general.
I liked the simulated project at the end of the course. The presentation of the course was set out to give us the basic information, allow and encourage us to apply it to a real-life personal/professional project, and then apply it in a team project setting. I think this sequence really helped us to put all the information together and understand it very well.
I would recommend this course to my peers. The Kepner-Tregoe approach can be applied to any size of project. I would caution though that unless our customers are also trained in Project Management, it will still be difficult to be fully involved in the definition stage from the start.