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Project Management: Executing and Monitoring Your Change Project

You have your project all planned out now you’re executing the project and monitoring the moving pieces to see how they all fit together.

This is when all of your project management tools really jump into gear and prove their use in real time. We use Basecamp as our way of tracking what is happening with the project and making sure we don’t lose our communication in old email threads.

 

Cross-checking against the budget

We use Harvest to track our time. This is great for tracking the overall budget and has it’s own handy visual icon, but sometimes it doesn’t provide enough information. With rather large projects, we’ll download the data from Harvest to get a more detailed look that we can cross-reference with our estimates for individual categories. Pivot charts are super useful for gathering information together.

 

This provides the additional benefit of helping to reconcile how much of the work has been done versus how much of the money has been spent. If you’re 60% done with the project, but 70% done with the budget, then it’s definitely time to troubleshoot and figure out how to move forward.

 

Communication

With large projects with lots of moving parts, its always good to do a team meeting in addition to a client call. Most organizations already do this and know the value of these meetings for checking in, troubleshooting, and fostering ideas for the work. One other useful thing to do for the project management side is to always keep certain information on reference for the meeting:

●     A list of all the deliverables for the project

●     The timeline or gantt chart for the project.

●     The budget for the project and how much has been spent

 

Making sure you’re on the right channel for the teammates, clients, and stakeholders you’re communicating with is another important part of the communication process. Remember if you’re having trouble reaching someone by email, sometimes they’re on Skype, chat or even reachable by the old-fashioned telephone.

 

Changing the Plan as You Encounter Risks and Changes

Weren’t expecting a snowstorm to knock out power for several days? Weren’t expecting your contact to be reassigned to Brazil? It happens. Some risks can be anticipated and you may already have mitigation strategies in your back pocket, but some risks are unanticipated and the only thing you can do is meet with your team and your organization to discuss how to tackle these issues. Also, a general rule of thumb is that it’s hard to accurately plan for something 6 months down the line, so if you have a lot of long-term projects, expect to encounter a lot of changes.

 

Sticking to the Proposal

Sometimes you’ll find that somehow a project gets bigger and bigger as the client is asking for more and more things. This is common enough that they have a name for it -- “scope creep” -- the process of the scope of work slowly getting larger and larger. There are certain times when there are very good reasons to acquiesce to the new requests, but there are also very good reasons to sometimes mention that it was not in the original project proposal. Remember that the proposal isn’t something written and then stuck in your Dropbox. It’s an extremely important document that you need to be checking and referencing regularly -- and especially during key decisions.

 

Image Source: www.getharvest.com

Read the other articles in the series on project management systems for nonprofits:

 

 

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