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Project Management Made Simple

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As a trained engineer, I tend to make things more complicated than they should be. My first instinct when embarking on a new project is to dive into an ultra-rigorous, complicated and detailed step-by-step plan. While for some projects that method works, the vast majority require a more toned-down approach. The following should be used as a check list to make sure that for the simplest of projects, you cover the key issues, and for the larger projects, allow for flexibility while providing a consistent framework.


What does completion look like?

1. Define what the completed project will look like.

2. All key results should be defined that determine successful completion.

3. Write down the results from step two, then work with your team to determine what steps are necessary to reach the results.

Milestones and Deadlines

1. After determining the steps, assign deadlines for each step and determine which of the steps are key milestones.

The Team

1. Determine what skills are needed to complete the steps you have identified.

2. Make sure that the vision is clear to the team and that they have some sense of ownership in the project.

The List

1. From the steps you identified, list out all the specific tasks that must be completed. The person responsible for the task should get their own list started, but ultimately there should be some review by other team members to help ensure nothing is overlooked.

2. Looking at your task list, determine what information and resources (budget) you will need to complete all tasks.

3. Look at the tasks and determine which ones are the most risky and plan to attack those first with your best resources.


1. Organize your list by priority and deadline.

2. Look at parallel vs. sequential tasks and make sure you have identified the critical path. That is the path that will take the longest time in sequence, thus determining the best case scenario for project completion.

3. Use the simplest method you can to organize the task, starting from a simple white board (I suggest a Google doc (www.google.com/a) for most small projects).

Plan B

1. Spend some time looking at disaster scenarios and develop an alternative plan.

2. If the project is critical, you may want to develop several alternate plans.

Measurements and Review

1. Establish metrics and methods of measurement.

2. Schedule regular review periods to examine progress on your defined metrics.


1. Establish clear and transparent lines of communication.

2. Make sure your message is clear by asking the recipient to restate your request back to you.

3. Communicate possible delays as early as possible to the stakeholders.


Please send all feedback, topic suggestions and/or questions to TechTalk@AboveTheLimit.com Digital archives can be found at BlackVoiceNews.com and IngleWoodToday.com


Elmer Thomas Jr. is Founder of Above the Limit, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at www.AboveTheLimit.com. 

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