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Learn Simple Project Management

Updated on October 7, 2014

Project Management Can Be Easy!

Despite the popular belief that project management is a difficult skill, the truth is that basically it is simple. So simple that children can, and do, manage projects. The problem with project management is that the working environment imposes complexity upon the project. This often makes the management more difficult. In order to understand project management, and why it is perceived to be difficult, you must learn about simple project management. This is a concept that starts from the most elementary project tasks and explains these as a foundation. Only when the basics of project management is fully understood should the project manager attempt to handle the more complicated aspects of project management.

If you truly analyze many projects that have had trouble, you may find that they became bogged down in complexity. Perhaps they were trying to implement a plan that was used before but was overly specific. Perhaps the requirements were overstated. There is nothing wrong with a project paring down the work to the basics. After all, the goal of all projects should be to completed successfully. Complexity can be brought in by subsequent phases of a project or by additional projects.

Complexity can be natural in a project, or it can be introduced. Without strict attention, however, most corporate efforts tend to add complexity. This should be avoided. Keep it simple, whenever possible. Find out how, here.

Use Software to Help Your Projects

ProjectLibre is a free, open source task tracking and assignment tool. It is easy to set up and use. This publication shows how. Distributed in Kindle format, you will require a device or you can download a free reader from Amazon. You can even read it in your browser for free at read.Amazon.com.

How to Build a Project Plan With ProjectLibre (ProjectLibre User Reference Book 4)
How to Build a Project Plan With ProjectLibre (ProjectLibre User Reference Book 4)

This guide is a little more advanced review of ProjectLibre. Like other application software, it shows the product in use. Through the chapters, a sequence of steps is shown which guide the reader as they build their own simple, realistic project plan.

 
Simple project management triple constraints
Simple project management triple constraints

Introduction to Simple Project Management

Children should start here

Simple project management is an easy concept. Children can understand the basics easily. Adults quickly lose track of the simple concept and become mired in complexity. Start with the following simple project management ideas:

  • Scope - what work will be performed?

  • Schedule - when will the work be finished?

  • Cost - who will do the work

That is all there is for simple project management.

ProjectLibre Project Tracking Application

ProjectLibre is a free open source application that allows you to easily record all task details for your projects. It is free for anyone to use for business or personal purposes. It provides functionality that rivals commercial project applications which sell for hundreds of dollars. Because it is free, it allows more people the opportunity to apply tracking, monitoring and quality control to everyday activities such as weddings, home construction and more. Available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, ProjectLibre is an outstanding tool. Voted "Product of the Month" in its first month on the distribution site Sourceforge. It is currently being downloaded nearly 1,000 times per day.

Despite being a free product, ProjectLibre is very capable. New users are often slow to get started. Luckily, there are ProjectLibre tutorials available now from Amazon and other sources. In keeping with the "simple project management" ideal, this product is an excellent choice for students, small business owners due to the free entry cost.

ProjectLibre User Guide Reference Manual
ProjectLibre User Guide Reference Manual

This $9.99 publication is the definitive reference manual for ProjectLibre. It contains actual screen shots of the application in use. ProjectLibre documentation is provided with descriptions of all program functions. New users will be able to learn how to use ProjectLibre and can follow the clearly illustrated topics.

 
Simple Project Management Scope
Simple Project Management Scope

Scope - what work will be performed

The simplest part of a project

Scope is often a major problem in projects but it is actually the easiest concept. Or it should be. The simple project management view of scope is:

  • What is the project going to do?

  • How are we going to do it?

  • How do we know when it is done?

If you can't answer those questions, then you haven't done a good job with the project. These are mainly planning steps. A project is a temporary effort that a team, (of 1 or more), will do. Each project hasn't been done exactly like this before. "Knowing when the project is done" is still a planning step. Consider that the project will build a new web site. Here is the simple project management scope, now expanded:

  • What is the project going to do?

  • The team will build a web site

  • The web site will provide advice to photographers

  • A gallery of photographs will be displayed

How are we going to do it?We are going to use a web content management systemOur company did a similar web site for painting

How do we know when it is done?The web site will be displayed to international usersEach page will display properlyThe company president will receive a report showing the site usage during the first week.

The scope is represented in a project tracking application as a list of tasks. The entire list is the scope part of a project plan. ProjectLibre is a great tool for organizing scope tasks within a project plan. When finalizing a project, remember that final paperwork is essential. Document the successes, challenges and responses. Keep these in an easy to access location that is available for future review. By learning from past efforts, your organization's future work has a better chance of being better.

Simple Project Management Schedule
Simple Project Management Schedule

Schedule - when will the work be finished

Another simple concept

The schedule is often a difficult project aspect to manage but it shouldn't be. There are only two things to consider: does the project have to be completed on a certain day, (like Thanksgiving), or is it finished when all of the work is done? Having a set completion date is likely easier. No extensions are possible, so don't ask for one. The other case lets people hope for schedule extensions to cover for project task problems.

The project manager should always make sure that the scope can be completed in the required time. Keep the project from having to do more tasks than the minimum necessary. Each time a new task is specified, the project manager should defer the task to a later project or obtain permission to include it in the current project. Often the most difficult part of the project manager's job is to prevent extra work from being added to the project.

Don't forget that projects must be documented at the end with a status report, lessons learned report or similar closing paperwork. How will anyone know that the project is complete if there is no ending declaration? Insist on closing your projects properly.

Learn the Basics of ProjectLibre

This is a $1.00 ProjectLibre documentation guide that provides the easiest way for a project manager to learn about the application.

A Simple Project Plan For ProjectLibre (ProjectLibre User Reference Book 2)
A Simple Project Plan For ProjectLibre (ProjectLibre User Reference Book 2)

This publication is an easy to follow guide for those who want to learn how to use ProjectLibre to build project plans. Comprised of step by step examples that clearly show the application. Actual screen shots are provided with annotations and textual descriptions. Readers can install the free program themselves and follow along with the book.

 

This Lens Has Been Recognized!

Many people think that a simple approach would be the best. The Squidoo officials have agreed. This lens has been awarded a Purple Star for excellence. This is a very significant event for the lens. Not very many of these awards are given per year. The fact that this little lens has won is quite amazing. Thank-you!

The Danger of Project Plan Templates

...may decrease simplicity

There are a lot of project plan templates available to managers. Many of them are free. Some may be provided by your central office. Most of these are quite complicated plans with extensive lists of tasks, requirements and overhead. They will define, in detail, all steps necessary for each part of a project. They will be applicable for the largest of efforts. This might be overly complicated.

If your project is a small or medium effort, most project plans will be too detailed. They will spell out every step. For smaller works, this can be a problem. For example, the communication plan can be simple, "Inform management of status each week". A template might break this down into 15 steps to gather large amounts of data, formulate it into various reports and schedule meetings with each of the affected stakeholders. The once simple concept can explore in difficulty just through the implementation of a standard template.

Be careful with defined lists of tasks and other specifications. Before using them blindly, take some serious time to purge items not necessary for your case, and merge others into more appropriate tasks.

Simple Project Management Plan

Get it in writing

The project plan is a description of the project scope, schedule and cost. It documents what will be done, by whom and when. The project plan is the document that the project manager uses to get the authority to proceed. It should be signed by the highest person in the company who hasan interest in the project results. This will be dependent on the size of the project, of course. A small project to improve a particular item might have a light plan and may be authorized by a junior company manager. A major project that requires a lot of people, equipment and money will need to have a fully specified plan that is authorized by a company executive. Other projects fall in between these extremes. Project managers should start with the basic three project principles and have these fully specified in the project plan:

  • What is the project going to do?

  • How are we going to do it?

  • How do we know when it is done?

When you discuss the project plan with the team and the company management, you may need to expand the plan in each of these areas. There may be a section of the plan that handles additional scope items. There may be a risk section to handle delays that are encountered. There may be a quality section that specifies how task completion is verified. These are aspects of a project that must be addresses but which are not part of the simple project management approach.

At the end of the project, proper documentation is a must. Close out the project by developing a statement of lessons learned. This will be the final document of the project. Without, how do you know that the job is complete? Too many projects skip this task so make sure that your plan includes one.

Project Plannning Materials on Amazon - Get the help that you need

Many readers have commented that this article has been something of a help to them. Its simplicity gives the reader an introduction to project management in a non-threatening manner. They comment that it has taught them something despite the light treatment. If you have some time, check out the comments which are shown above. Many people have experience with projects that have not gone well. By applying some discipline, these people can gain better control of their next project efforts.

Projects are all about communication - Add your communications here

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    • profile image

      Behrooz 2 years ago

      Nice to be here...[...]Identifying and environment your goals can play a very vital role in mvttoaiing you to understand your imaginative and prescient for the long run. Goal surroundings helps you to make a selection the place you want to pass in existence and what you...

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      othellos 4 years ago

      Excellent lens on a topic that can help a lot of people. Thank you for sharing this information and these tips. Very thorough and so well done!

    • stephen downing profile image

      stephen downing 4 years ago

      Great tutor, I like the way you have simplified something which is normally put across as a complex subject. Thank you

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      very informative lens, thank you for sharing.

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 4 years ago

      Thank you for the simple and precise ideas. Great lens!

    • javr profile image
      Author

      javr 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @kevinfream lm: Wow, I never noticed that. It might have been because I was responsible for that category a long time ago. I don't think the categories matter much anyway. That said, thanks for the tip. I'll move it right away.

    • kevinfream lm profile image

      kevinfream lm 4 years ago

      OK you're smart enough to write about a complex subject, so why in the world is this lens categorized in Business Ethics?

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. I had this subject and really enjoyed learning these stuffs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      As an aspiring project manager I can appreciate this article. There are no shortcuts in the project management process. Understanding the process can be simplified.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      As an aspiring project manager I can appreciate this article. There are no shortcuts in the project management process. Understanding the process can be simplified.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      You obviously communicate well to earn a purple star. Congrats and blessed.

    • SandraWilson LM profile image

      SandraWilson LM 5 years ago

      If only some companies and government organizations would read this, it would so much better for those involved in getting things done.

    • ForthepeopleinUSA profile image

      ForthepeopleinUSA 5 years ago

      Effective Communication is the first & most important key. Nicely done. Keep it simple is the way to go completely.

    • shahedashaikh profile image

      shahedashaikh 5 years ago

      Very useful info,Thanks for visiting my lens Halloween costumes for all,blessing it.You know an angel just made my day.Thanks once again for the visit.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Gee we should all know exactly how to understand this now. great info very well explained.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Talk about giving the nuts and bolts of project management that can make sense to us all...simply put and excellent as usual by you!

    • profile image

      Funkysi 5 years ago

      I am a project manager and I totally agree with you. It is all about good communication.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I agree completely that complexity often leads to failure.

    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 6 years ago

      A nice way to explain project management. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great informative lens.Project management is a difficult skill, basically it is simple.Thanks for sharing. Project Management Services

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You are invited to write & share you articles on our dofollow link website. http://wiki-answer.org

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      Sojourn 6 years ago

      I could not have performed my previous job nor could I run my current business without at least some basic project management skills. Which reminds me that I need to help my kids understand how these skills could help them with things like chores, homework, and other responsibilities. Good tips!

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I enjoyed seeing the graphs that accompanied this very interesting article. The medical facility that I work at just completed a building project(October 2010) 5 buildings on a 20 acre site.

      Because it is a medical facility there are still sub contractors on campus adding the interior finishes and various medical equipment. The rigorous regulations has delayed some residents from being admitted. Project management is quite interesting when you can see the process unfold on a daily basis for 2 years.

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      KDimmick 6 years ago

      Nice lens! A great book I've read around this topic is "Getting Real" by the 37 Signals team. ~ Blessed

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You are so right, we adults seem to be very good at complicating things. I have to always remind myself to keep things simple. I've managed numerous projects while in the corporate world big and small -- one thing that I've learned is that we should definitely keep things simple and you did a great job keeping this lens simple to understand. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**