Project Management for line managers….
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Project Management for line managers….

When I think about project management the first thing I think of is paperwork and large project files, which certainly does not thrill me! However, there are a number of techniques used in project management that are excellent tools. These tools are available for us to use in day to day operational management. So here’s a few of the techniques and their benefits highlighted below:

TOR – Terms of Reference

Whenever a project is initiated a formal TOR should be written that specifies what the project is aiming to achieve.  It should include what the scope of the project is, limitations, resources required, budget and timescales. So as an operational line manager, this same process could be used with your team whenever you are thinking of implementing any change within your workplace. It will help to clarify whether your change is appropriate and necessary. It will also indicate whether you have the right level of resources to successfully implement your change.

CBA – Cost Benefit Analysis

Once you have established your options for solving your problem or implementing your change, then you may want to compare the cost of each option against the benefit that the project is expected to deliver. In other words, will the benefits received outweigh the cost of implementing the change?  This is often referred to as the ROI – Return on Investment.   It is a great tool to establish the payback period or the break-even point.   That is the week, month or year that the cost of the change will be paid back by the benefit received. So as an operational line manager, this technique could be used with your team to look at the financial viability of buying new equipment or comparing options to ensure you pick the option that pays back the quickest.

WBS – Work Breakdown Structure

When planning a project, it is often a good idea to use this technique.  This involves noting down every activity involved in the project (essentially a To Do List!).  Then this can be further expanded and grouped into Task Owners (who will do what). Adding timescales and costs illustrates whether you have the right amount of human resource and funds available for the timescale allocated for the project. As an operational line manager, this technique can be used with your team in brainstorming tasks and changes required within the department to ensure that activities aren’t missed and that objectives are realistic and achievable.

Gantt Chart

These are an excellent way to schedule, budget and communicate the project in an easy and quick way. You can devise these charts either though MSExcel or through specific project management applications. Each activity is allocated a separate line on the chart. This allows us to see immediately the amount of time it will take to complete and essentially who the task owner is.  As you become more advanced in using Gantt charts you can illustrate the Critical Path.  This is the longest route through the project, indicating the greatest length of time it will take to complete the project. So as an operational line manager, this technique can be used for any task allocated within the team and will help you manage timescales and actions, whilst also being able to communicate requirements in a succinct and relevant manner.

So whilst project management seems like a very paper-based and procedure oriented area, there are clear day to day uses. We can use the techniques in our operational management to ensure that our practices are well managed and planned. They will also help to improve communication, whilst also engaging our teams in the process.

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