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Four helpful tips for the lone project manager

Project management is a body of knowledge that is vast and applicable to large organizations, not always for a lone project manager

The literature on project management sometimes makes it a very broad science, that is mostly applicable to large corporations and businesses. Knowledge bodies and standards such as the PMP and PRINCE2™ leaves you, the lone project manage, with an abundance of knowledge and with some doubts with your own self run projects.

Being a sole proprietor means that there is a large number of projects headed your way. Soon, you will be caught up managing projects and trying to apply new found knowledge into your projects… and unable to do so. Why? Some knowledge learnt doesn’t apply to individual stand alone projects, done by a very few people or just you alone. Here are somethings that may help you along the way.

Identify what is and isn’t a project

The general definition of projects leaves the doors open for a whole universe of things able to be a project. Has a well defined scope, time bound, unique, definitive start/end date and used to solve a problem or gain a benefit and involves resources (time, cost, equipment and machinery). Given this definition, would you say that writing this article, for example, is a project? Let’s have a look.

  • Time bound: Not really. I could drag this article on for another month or even choose to not write it at all (which is obviously not what I have done).
  • Scope: The scope here is quite well defined. Talk about managing own projects.
  • Unique: There are definitely a lot of articles/posts talking about managing own projects.
  • Definitive start and end date: Once again, no, I’m not on a schedule.
  • Solve a problem: Well, no again. This article will hopefully allow someone else to solve a problem but it doesn’t solve much more for me. Maybe a little self reflection is over due.
  • Gain a benefit: I like writing and people like reading. Maybe a tick or two on this aspect.
  • Involves resource: It does take time to research and write an article. It may also involve a little money, but for this particular article, it doesn’t. The only human resource involved in this would-be project is the person typing these words in and the machinery used is my personal computer.

So, the basics still applies. Not everything can be a project and not everything has to be. If you manage every little detail of a task like it was a project, you end up becoming a micro managing beast. Imagine doing cost and time schedules, drawing stakeholder diagrams, writing business plans for this single article.

But it does beg the question of how to categorize the task of writing this article. Given this analogy of an article being a project, there are then, many things that can be taken into question. And most likely these things will fall into what I like to call a personal operations management. This article, although unique from everything else in this site, is still part of an operation, running the site. So, that is it. Running this site is the project.

No, once again. Running this site is an operation. This site doesn’t have an end date and will keep churning articles, quotes and interesting knowledge related posts till kingdom come. The project, which some of you may have realized by now, is starting the website. To get everything in place, all the social media outlets ready, all the supporting graphics ready and making the necessary purchases.

Making a clear distinction of what is a project and what an operation is, allows for success in the project and in the operation that follows. Suppose you like to develop a game. By the time you released the first version of said hypothetical game, it should be clear that the project is now over (over simplification, as there are two project end dates in reality, the project completion date and the project review date) and any more revisions and bug fix releases are the operational phase of the project you have already completed. Not marking projects as complete can bring about a sense of failure, specially when you are going at it alone.

About Mohamed A. Latheef (16 Articles)
Closet writer's husband

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