Project Management Examples to Get You Started

project management examplesIn life and business, you’ll inevitably come across different projects. It could be something you need to plan and build in your home, or your boss may have just positioned you into the latest project team set to tackle a dreadful task that god-only-knows how to achieve. Some projects naturally succeed, but others require a more practical approach. If you’ve never managed a project before, this course is wonderful for beginners as it gives not only the theory, but practical applications where the techniques of project management are applied.

Your ultimate goal in any project, is to stick to the budget, get the most value from the team as possible, and eliminate any waste and last minute scrambling. It sounds like there is much to learn, but it can be very simple to apply a set of process steps to a project and follow them through. If you’re interested in this field for a career, check out this recent post to learn what a project manager does, day-in and day-out.

The steps to follow in managing a project are simple, and if you stick to them you can apply them to any situation or task that needs to be organized. Despite this, there are many different schools of thought on the topic, and many different versions of the process. In it’s simplest form you just need to:

  1. Identify the project, including the scope of the problem
  2. Determine the outcome you would like to see
  3. Delineate all of the tasks in detail of what’s required
  4. Identify the players (or the team) and assign responsibility, identify any risks, and external parties that can influence the outcome
  5. Decide on a timeline for completing each part of the project
  6. Review the outcomes, revise tasks as required and give any future direction

Perhaps the best way to understand this scope is with a number of examples, so that you can understand the steps and the logic behind how each phase in the process works. If you’re interested to run through this in a more detail, check out this course that covers every basic step in project planning.

Example 1

Identify the project

Building a garden shed. This includes the design of the shed, sourcing all the materials required for construction, and putting all of the various pieces together to get the finished shed.

Outcome

A finished garden shed.

Delineate the tasks

There are going to be certain tasks that depend on others. You’re going to need to:

  • Get a set of blueprints for the shed and clear and prepare the area for construction
  • Source all of the materials for the construction
  • Prepare the foundation and start constructing the beams of the floor
  • Lay the floorboards
  • Construct the frames of the walls and raise and fit each of them
  • Frame the roof and attach the roofing
  • Fit in all the siding for the walls
  • Fit in the windows and the doors

In this example it’s obvious that you won’t be able to start fitting the walls until the floor is in place, or start work on the roof until your walls have been raised.

Identify the players

These are the people who will help on your team, in this instance it could be your neighbours, family or your friends. You’ll need to lead them and give them direction on the tasks you want them to do. Outside risks include bad weather or the hardware store not having certain items, or being closed altogether.

Timeline

For a project like this that is relatively simple, the timeline depends on how large your team is. With 10 people working on a garden shed, it could be finished in a matter of hours, but doing it alone may take 2-3 weekends of time.

Review

Look back and decide on what worked and what didn’t, perhaps a particular type of paint wasn’t the best choice, or a nail gun would have been more effective than a hammer. Make a note of it for next time, and ensure you have the right supplies for the job. If you’re in the building industry, you definitely have to check out this course that has been designed especially for you.

Example 2

Identify the project

Making cereal for breakfast, including sourcing the cereal and milk, a bowl, and a spoon.

Outcome

You’re no longer hungry, and you’re ready to start the day.

Delineate the tasks

If you were starting this project from scratch, this gives you a much better picture of the actual timeline of events that need to occur for you to have breakfast. The tasks would be as follows:

  • Go to the supermarket
  • Buy a bowl
  • Buy a spoon
  • Buy a bottle of milk
  • Buy a box of cereal
  • Return home
  • Place the bowl on the counter
  • Pour the cereal into the bowl
  • Pour the milk into the bowl
  • Place the spoon in the bowl, and eat

The tasks in a project often have a strong relationship of dependencies. For something simple like making cereal it is easy to spot them, you can’t pour milk into the bowl if you have not yet purchased it from the store. For larger projects, these can often be harder to spot, which is why you have to spend the time mapping out each part of the process, and building a timeline. It doesn’t matter what you are planning, using these fundamentals you’ll find that every project has a similar process to follow.

Identify the players

For eating breakfast it is probably just yourself, unless you have a son or a daughter who helps out in the morning. Risks include not having one of the supplies, or realizing that the milk has expired.

Timeline

For breakfast the timeline is immediate.

Review

You may decide that tomorrow you use less honey, or add something new like fruit to your cereal for added vitamins (and taste!).

Example 3

Taking this next example, this is something that many readers will encounter in their professional life, to demonstrate how to practically use project management in your job.

Identify the project

Planning a company meeting. You’ll need to talk to the stakeholders and find out what they want the session to cover. If it’s a recurring meeting, is there anything that was done wrong where you can improve, or best practices they would like to see in your meeting? Find out from the person that assigned you the task of running the meeting, what they are actually after. Find out if there is a budget for the event, and when and where it is being held. Find out also how long the meeting is being held for, and what needs to be prepared by the attendees. The more information you can put together, the better.

Outcome

A successfully run meeting that meets all of the stakeholders objectives, within the budget and time constraints.

Delineate the tasks

Depending on what is required by the key stakeholders, this could be as follows:

  • Discuss with the key stakeholder the goals of the meeting
  • Talk to any previous project managers that have done this task before (for advice)
  • Determine a rough estimate of how many people will attend
  • Determine the preferred date for the event
  • Determine the budget for the event
  • Decide if the meeting will be held on-site (for cost saving) or off-site (for more focus)
  • Book a function room accordingly
  • Plan the meeting agenda, and decide on how many speakers are needed
  • Give the speakers guidelines (topics, length)
  • Confirm who will chair the meeting, and give the opening presentation
  • Confirm who else will present in the meeting, and if any breakout sessions are required (if so, plan who will head each breakout session)
  • Purchase thank you gifts for the speakers
  • Confirm what needs to be prepared by attendees (if anything)
  • Send out invitations to all attendees
  • Confirm on final numbers of staff
  • Book catering for the event
  • Organize the room setup and the seating arrangement
  • Double check all of the multimedia devices are connected and working (projector, microphone, etc.)
  • Plan the flow of the meeting, and how it will be wrapped up at the end of the session
  • Give thank you gifts to the speakers

This is a very basic outline of the tasks that come when planning a large meeting, and if you are in the situation where you are actually implementing this example your project team will need to expand on each point. There are many dependencies as you progress down the list, organizing the room setup is impossible if you haven’t booked a room! Don’t forget to also consider the time taken for certain steps. It may take a number of days to confirm all of the speakers, and they will also need time to prepare themselves and their presentations, so remember to build this into your timeline.

Identify the players

You may need to reach out to staff in other departments to make the project a success. Consider what help you need from them, and reach out for assistance. It may be as simple as an IT employee coming to connect the projector, or you may need specific help from administrative staff that requires sign off from their direct manager. Think about how much time you’re asking of each team member, and contingencies if something goes wrong, or they are not available.

Timeline

Put thought into how the flow of the meeting will go, and ensure that all your preparation on the room is done beforehand. You don’t want to be running around finding a working microphone 2 minutes before you are due to start!

Review

Look back over the project and see if you can spot any areas for improvement next time. Perhaps the speakers would have liked more notice to adequately prepare or the lunch breaks were too short and didn’t give ample time for the staff to network and build relationships within the office. Learn what went wrong, and ensure you improve on the next project.

Project management is present in nearly every aspect of your life, because it’s simple a set of processes you follow to complete a task.To run through it all in more detail, this course is fantastic, and gives a helicopter view of how to run a project so you can get it right, the first time.

Almost everything you do that has both a beginning and an end is a project, but you don’t need to sit down with a yellow legal pad and draw it all out. With simple projects you can easily run through all of these steps in your head, and for the big jobs perhaps it pays to make a few notes – just so you don’t forget anything!