Hope is not a plan.
I hope it doesn’t rain today, but I plan to take my umbrella just in case.
At the heart of project management is a hope or dream that, whatever the outcome, it will be positive and timely. The larger the project (dictated by number of people involved, amount of time needed to complete the project or general complexity of achieving the project goal), the more “project management” is needed.
Millions of projects are undertaken each year with little more than the final goal in mind. Many of those will reach the goal with little more than an Excel spreadsheet of tasks and a person with the drive to see the mission accomplished.
Some projects, however, require more than a “little more.”
The migration of a university’s website from one content management system to another is a big project. Really big.
Every office and unit across UTC eventually will be touched by the project. One person or even one office can’t achieve the goal, alone, of reviewing more than 6,000 website pages. And the experts for all of the webpages don’t exist in just one office. This is where established project management practices and a dedicated project manager come into the picture.
Think of a project manager as the conductor of an orchestra. Each section of talented musicians can play the music for their areas, but the conductor keeps her eye on the bigger picture of the overall audience experience with the end goal in mind. The conductor lays out the plan and then directs the members as to when their expertise is needed. If the woodwinds become too loud, the conductor calms them down.
A project manager has a similar role. The project manager ensures that all of the people, technology and processes needed to complete the project are scheduled, reminded, coordinated and communicated with at the exact time they need to be queued to keep the project on track.
The project manager’s primary job is to keep the project on schedule, on budget and with the agreed-to level of quality to ensure the expected result.
Sometimes called the triple constraint, the challenge for all project managers is to plan effectively, communicate status regularly, identify risks that come up along the way and bring the project to closure at the anticipated date. Project managers use a variety of tools to make that happen.
Some of the items you’ll find here on this blog site address those tools: Project Charter, Communication Plan, Risk Response Register, and Schedule. The purpose of these four documents is to verify the terms and conditions of the project (similar to entering into a contract). The charter lays out all the factors that can affect a project and the risk response register provides strategies for mitigating risks that may affect the project adversely. The schedule lays out the tasks in relative order and provides a general view of progress as the tasks are completed. And the communication plan details how the information about the project will be delivered to a wide array of stakeholders.
At the end of the day, project managers work in concert with project teams and campus stakeholders to orchestrate the work that, in the case of the website refresh and migration to the new CMS, will provide our audience—students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff—better information in a modern and mobile-friendly way.
At least that’s our hope….and plan.