Personal Productivity – Module 6

“A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it.”

– Scott Allen

Using Project Management Techniques

Project management is the art and science of planning, organizing, and managing resources to ensure that a project is completed successfully. Although project management tools are often used for major endeavors, we can scale down some of them and use them in our day to day work. This module will give you an introduction to key project management techniques and ideas and show you how to use them to become more productive.





The Triple Constraint

The Triple Constraint illustrates the balance of the project’s scope, schedule (time), quality, and cost. During the planning phase of a project, the project management team defines the project scope, time, cost, and quality of a project. As the process continues, the project managers discover that there may be changes or adjustments to be made in one of these areas. When this happens, the other factors of the triple constraint are likely to be affected as well.

For example, if the cost increases, it is logical to assume that the scope and time will increase as well. The same thing happens if the cost decreases; the scope and time will decrease too.
It is the job of the project manager, and sometimes the project team, to identify how a change to a single element will change the other elements.

Creating the Schedule


The next task is to build the schedule. A good schedule will allow you to will grow and change while you’re working on your task or project. Keep it up to date to make sure that you will meet your deadlines.

There are many scheduling tools out there. For personal task management, we prefer a simple, table-style format.
The first column lists the tasks that need to be performed. This list is typically organized in the order in which the tasks will be accomplished chronologically. If it’s a large project, think of how it might be broken up into phases, to help subdivide tasks that will be performed.
The second column specifies the duration time of each task listed. This duration might be listed in terms of days, weeks, or hours, depending on the project.
If you are relying on other people or machines to help you complete your task, make a list of restrictions and availabilities.
Let’s look at Joe and Sue. They want to paint their guest room this weekend. Here is a summary of their availabilities:

Friday Saturday
Joe 5 p.m.-10 p.m. 9 a.m.-10 a.m.
1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Sue 5 p.m.-10 p.m. 10 a.m.-noon
1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Here are some tips to make your schedule efficient, accurate, and useful:

• Look for places where resources can perform activities simultaneously.

• Indicate milestones in your schedule. Milestones are identifiable points in your project that require no resources or time. They are simply a key point in time. They can also help you group your project into phases.

Milestones in this project might be:
o Have paint color chosen

o Have room cleaned out

o Get painting complete

o Have room put back together

• If you are delivering a business project, try to include deliverables with the milestones. This way, sponsors and stakeholders have tangible results at various stages in the project, and are more likely to stay interested and committed.

• Make sure to include lag and lead time in your tasks. In the painting project, for example, there is little to no time allotted for the paint to dry between coats. The project will definitely fall behind schedule.

Using a RACI Chart

A RACI chart is an excellent way to outline who is responsible for what during a project or task. To start, create a chart with tasks listed on the left hand side, and resources listed across the top. Now, put the appropriate letter in each cell:

• R: Responsible for execution

• A: Approver

• C: Consult

• I: Keep informed


Case Study

Norman had sunk fast. He had no plan to lead his team toward victory and sweat bullets to try to dream up a solution. His team member, Pauline, caught wind of his dilemma and in a pinch created a schedule that would put Norman and the team on the road to success. Pauline told Norman all he needed involved a huddle with the team together and they’d their heads in the game. Pauline taught Norman how to transform into a head coach and showed him how to call the plays and get his team ahead of their competition with a few quick moves and a winning attitude. Soon, Norman turned into a champion in the workplace and his team could run circles around the competition.