1 Making it happen
1.1 The transition from planning to action
In working on a project, it is sometimes difficult to make the transition from planning to action. It usually falls to the manager, as leader of the project, to make sure that activities are started; but not before it is clear who should carry out which tasks, and when. The first step for the project manager is to ensure that the plan is communicated to those who will be working on the project. It is not always safe to assume that others will understand the plan or its implications, particularly in terms of what they should be doing to make it happen. Plans are often focused on time-scales and schedules. If you have used computer-based packages to develop a plan, at a high level of detail, that plan can be difficult for others to interpret. Consider the following example.
Example 1: Understanding the plan
I was asked to review a project which the client suspected was not under control. This was a four-person project which was scheduled to finish within 8 months. I walked into the meeting room where I had agreed to meet the project manager and was surprised to find him putting together a matrix of four by four project schedules which he had just printed out. There were sixteen A4 sheets in total – certainly impressive!
We discussed the intimidating-looking schedule for a while: I don't think either of us understood it. We then moved to the whiteboard. An hour later we agreed on a schedule fitting onto one side A4 – at that point we started making progress.
Make sure that the key people responsible for taking action on the first tasks understand what is needed. You may need to check that all the procedures have been gone through to secure their commitment to the project, and it might be necessary to issue a formal instruction to start work.