What is a Project?
A project is a temporary effort to create a unique product or service. Projects have clear, agreed upon objectives and outcomes, have a defined lifespan, generally are doing something that is new or a one-time effort, and have specific requirements (time, costs and performance).
What is Project Management?
Project management is the act of planning, organizing, acquiring and managing all aspects of the project to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. It includes developing a project plan, which includes defining and confirming the project goals and
objectives, identifying tasks and how goals will be achieved, quantifying the resources needed, and determining budgets and timelines for completion.
A Project Plan is a To Do List
A project plan serves as a roadmap for the entire project team, providing guidance on:
Project Sponsor versus Project Manager: What is the difference?
Lifecycle of a Project
The preparation stage involves identifying the Project Manager and Sponsor, as well as who will be involved in the project team. An outline of the project including justification (e.g. a business case or feasibility study), work plan and budget should be approved before the next step: the start-up stage. The start up or kick-off stage involves the selection and briefing of the project team with discussion on roles, responsibilities and governance during the project.
The Project Manager then engages the project team in developing a project charter. The project charter identifies the objectives and goals of the project, activities and performance targets, and terms of reference for the project team. The project charter will also identify the scope of the project (what is in scope and what is out of scope), resources required and milestones. Approval on the charter sets the stage for project planning to begin.
Planning involves setting out the roadmap for the project by creating detailed guidance documents such as: project plan, resource plan, work breakdown structure, financial plan, quality plan, acceptance plan and communications plan. These plans should be communicated widely to ensure maximum understanding of the projects objectives by all staff affected by the project. Team input is essential at this stage to minimize surprises or delays later on. Define the step-by-step tasks that need to be completed in the course of the project and state your goals. Organize your project tasks in a logical order to help you more easily monitor progress in the plan and check things off as you go along. Decide who will be the point of contact for each individual task. Determine a budget for each task, and tools or resources that will be needed to complete the task. Estimate a timeline for each task and set firm deadlines. Identify dependencies/impacts what tasks need to be done before another one can start. A Gantt chart is most often used as a helpful project management tool that helps to determine project phases, timing, resource scheduling and dependencies. Add to and adjust your project plan as you and your team members complete tasks or encounter risks that may affect project resources and timelines.
Look at the potential risks that could impede progress or prevent completion of the project. Risks could include reduced staff and resources, lack of finances. For each risk identified, develop a mitigation strategy or contingency plan that will address or prevent the risk from derailing the project through delays or additional costs.
Consider how the success of your project will be measured. How will you know if you've done a good job? Are performance targets realistic and achievable? Is measurement of performance occurring in a timely manner to allow for adjustments? Periodically through a long-term project, you will want to include activities that review progress towards project goals, tasks left to be done, relevance of goals to the group's interest and other concerns that could affect the success of the project so that performance targets remain in sight.
Implementation involves monitoring and controlling the project delivery, scope, costs, quality, risks and issues, and making adjustments as necessary along the way to ensure successful completion of the project objectives. The implementation stage involves the execution of the project plan as agreed, whilst carefully monitoring progress and managing changes. The team, along with related resources, may need to be adjusted at this stage to ensure completion of all the tasks. If so, it is essential that all changes are communicated to the team. Plan a project review at each milestone so that the project plan stays on track.
Close-out and Lessons Learned
The close down stage begins after the satisfactory delivery of the project (satisfactory to the project customer that is). A project review should be held to assess the results of the project activities, risks encountered and lessons learned from project management,. Gather the team involved in the project and ask what went well, what could be improved, and what should be done differently to capture recommendations for future project planning and delivery.
Hints for success...
Software: Where to Start
When looking for a potential software program to help you manage the information you collect, the choices can seem overwhelming. There are many different types of software programs available, and what may be a good fit for one particular business might be a different story for someone else based on their needs, production processes and management style. A business purchasing a traceability software package needs to do some research before making an investment of time and money into any particular software program. Start with doing a search on the internet for software programs that are relevant to what your business produces. If you already have a program in mind, a search on that program may turn up customer reviews that could be helpful in making a decision on whether to invest or not.
Get a trial or demo version first
Usually you test drive a car before buying, and the same holds true for software. Before investing in a program, it is a good idea to try out the program first. Most companies will have trial versions or demos that allow you to get a feel for how the program works and how simple or complex it will be to meet your needs. Some companies even have demonstrations of the programs you can download for free straight from their web site, with a period of time to try it out.
Ask other business owners
Businesses in the same or similar industries may already be using software that could meet your needs. Ask around to see if there are experiences with purchasing and using other programs and how it is working for them.
Ask what costs would be involved, such as:
Modular programs can provide a phased in approach, reducing the initial upfront purchase costs, as well adding useful functions to your data management system for other aspects of your business.
The important thing to remember is, try before you buy, and know what your needs are for your business traceability system.
What is a Strategic Plan?
Strategic planning is a high level process which deals with establishing the Vision and Mission of the organization, its Values, Key Objectives and Performance Indicators. A strategic plan identifies the short and long-term objectives of the operation and the strategies of how the business will meet its objectives in relation to the business plan. It identifies the desired outcome statement that will serve as a measure of success or a performance indicator. A strategic plan is based on anticipated changes in the environment. It involves getting input from many individuals and many levels of the organization and it provides the opportunity to incorporate new ideas and approaches.
What will a Strategic Plan do?
A Strategic Plan:
Why should I write a Strategic Plan?
By carrying out strategic planning your organization will be able to:
What should be included in a Strategic Plan?
Create a Vision
Visioning allows your planning team to decide how you want your organization to be perceived in the future. Your team will explore what you want to look like in five years, your preferred future and your values. You will need to gather this information from those you represent.
Develop a Mission Statement
The mission statement is an action statement that outlines the preferred future of your organization. It establishes what you plan to do, for whom, and why you are uniquely valued. It provides a focus for future planning and reflects your group's values, culture and philosophy.
State your Objectives
Objectives are used to operationalize the mission statement (what are you trying to accomplish). That is, they help to provide guidance on how the organization can fulfill or move toward the high goals in the goal hierarchy-the mission and vision. As a result, they tend to be more specific and cover a more well-defined time frame. Setting objectives demands an indicator to measure the fulfillment of the objectives.
Examples of objectives that your organization may develop include:
Identify Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Identify the strengths and weaknesses that are within the control of your organization (e.g., reduced operating capital, staff numbers, skilled executive, open communication networks) discuss their effect on the ability of your group to accomplish its objectives.
Identifying Opportunities and Threats; the outside influences over which you have little control; political/legal, economic, social/cultural and technological factors which may include new government policies, fragmented markets, changing lifestyles, activities of competitors and explore how these will relate to your objectives.
Identify Critical Issues
Critical issues arise from the identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They can be positive or negative issues that will impact on your future and must be addressed by your planning team - if not, they will become barriers to achieving your mission.
Plan for Action
To put your strategic plan into action it is necessary to:
Implement and Evaluate the Plan
Here is a To Do List to ensure your plan gets implemented:
Remember: Strategic planning determines where an organization is going over the next several years, how it's going to get there and how it will know if it got there or not.
Hints for success...
What is a Business Plan?
Business Planning is the process which carries the Strategic Plan to each level and functional area of the organization, ensuring alignment with the Strategic Plan. It will extend over more than one year as some objectives may require long range planning. A business plan represents all aspects of the business planning process including plans to cover marketing, management, operational, human resource and financial resource requirements. A business plan is a critical management tool for the creation or expansion of any business. It is a game plan - a concise, written record of objectives and how to obtain them. It describes, at a minimum, a product or service, customers, competition, management and financial arrangements. It should also outline production and marketing plans.
What will a Business Plan do?
A Business Plan:
Before writing a Business Plan ask yourself:
Be realistic in assessing what you are capable of and the opportunities that exist for your success.
What should be included in a Business Plan?
Describes the organization, business venture or product (service), summarizing its purpose, management, operations, marketing and finances. While appearing first, this section of the business plan is written last.
An Environmental Scan will help you understand your organization's internal needs and assets, and the external environment in which youre operating.
A. Industry overview:
An overview of the industry sector that your business will be a part of, including industry trends, major players in the industry, and estimated industry sales. This section of the business plan will also include a summary of your business's place within the industry and will answer the following questions.
B. Market analysis:
A Market analysis describes what unmet need it will (or does) fill, presents evidence that this need is genuine, and that the beneficiaries (or a third party) will pay for the costs to meet this need. It includes credible market research on target customers (including perceived benefits and willingness to pay), competitors and pricing.
A thorough market analysis includes an examination of the primary target market for your product or service, including geographic location, demographics, your target market's needs and how these needs are being met currently.
C. Competitive Analysis
A competitive analysis is an investigation of your direct and indirect competitors, with an assessment of their competitive advantage and an analysis of how you will overcome any entry barriers to your chosen market. The first step of preparing your competitive analysis is to determine who your competitors are. This isn't the hard part. If you're planning to start a small business that's going to operate locally, you can identify your competitors just by driving around or looking in the local phone book. The main question for you will be one of range; if your business plan is centred around the idea of opening a bakery, how far will customers be willing to drive to get fresh buns or bread?
A Marketing Plan is a detailed explanation of your sales strategy, pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, and product or service's benefits. It explains how you're going to get your customers to buy your products and/or services. The Marketing Plan, will include sections detailing your:
A Management Plan is an outline of your business's legal structure and management resources, including your internal management team, external management resources, and human resources needs.
People reading your business plan will be looking to see not only who's on your management team but how the skills of your management and staff will contribute to the bottom line.
An Operational Plan will describe your business's physical location, facilities and equipment, kinds of employees needed, inventory requirements and suppliers, and any other applicable operating details.
The Operational Plan is like an outline of the capital and expense requirements your business will need to operate from day to day. You need to do two things for your readers in the operating section of the business plan: show what you've done so far to get your business off the ground (and that you know what else needs to be done) and demonstrate that you understand the process of producing your product or service.
The Financial Plan determines whether or not your business idea is viable, and is a key component in determining whether or not your business plan is going to be able to attract any investment in your business idea.
A Financial Plan consists of three financial statements: the income statement, the cash flow projection and the balance sheet, and a brief explanation/analysis of these three statements.
Hints for success...
Giving Your Plan the Right Look
Compile your plan into a formal, well-organized and professional document. Your plan should
Ask an outsider you respect to read your final draft and provide constructive criticism.
Hiring outside consultants to do short-term projects is common in business. As in-house resources become scarcer and impartiality is required, organizations are turning to consultants to get the job done.
Choosing the Best Consultant
If you follow this selection process, you are likely to find qualified people people who will work to meet your needs, and deliver a useful report, recommendation or suitable consultation process or other product or service at a fair price.
Finding the Right People
Developing a Contract
What the Contract Should Cover
The contract should include:
This is only a basic list of what you should put in a contract to avoid problems later. Use your judgment in deciding what else you should include.
Terms of Reference
The terms of reference is a short description of the project and what you want produced. The terms help explain your project to the consultant and keep things on target. They also help the consultant estimate the cost of doing the work.
The terms of reference (project description) should:
The fees that a consultant charges to do a project or other job may vary from one consultant to another. To determine if the fee a consultant quotes is fair, consider the following:
Note: the consultants should be responsible for the cost of preparing their proposals and attending meetings to discuss their ideas with the selection committee.
Your Contract with the Consultant
A properly written contract clearly states who is responsible for what and helps prevent unpleasant surprises for both the client and the consultant. When you and the consultant sign a contract, you are both part of a legal agreement. If either party feels at some point that the other has not complied with the terms of the contract, each can turn to the legal system to set things right.
You can hire a lawyer to draw up the contract, but you don't need to. Instead, you can look for standard contracts on the internet and adapt these to fit your own situation. A contract is a two-way street. You expect the consultant to do a good job, produce acceptable results, and complete the work on schedule. The consultant expects to be paid promptly for the work he or she does.
Expenses and Other Costs
Make sure that the contract requires the consultant to submit receipts for all personal out-of-pocket expenses such as meals, hotels or transportation. The same is true for all other expenses like the cost of hiring other people or renting equipment to get the job done.
Make it clear that the consultant must explain if expenses will be more than stated in the contract.
Remember, the whole idea behind drawing up a contract is to avoid misunderstandings and surprises!
Hiring A Consultant Means Consultation!
One of the keys to getting the right consultant to do a job that's right for your project is to work as equal partners. The important thing to remember is that you can't hire a consultant to come in and tell you what you need. You can't walk away when the consultant arrives and expect that he or she will solve all your problems.
Hiring a consultant means consultation. You consult with each other. Before a consultant even arrives on the scene, your work has already begun. You have already defined or examined the problem. By examining the problem, you are really helping define its root or source and possible solutions. Choose consultants carefully and youll usually get the kind of end result you need. Always say exactly what you want. Supervise the work performed. Be demanding but fair about the final product you accept.
What is a Value Chain?
A value chain is defined as "a strategic partnership among inter-dependent businesses that collaborate to progressively create value for the final consumer resulting in a collective competitive advantage."
Essentially, it is a group of businesses with common interests and goals who work together as partners to add value to a product for the consumer, and as a result, find value that provide business benefits to each partner. What distinguishes a value chain from a traditional supply chain in how business relationships are managed, how information flows, and how each member in the chain receives value from collaboration.
Collaborate to Compete
You should be involved in a value chain if you want to:
A value chain may reward your business with an edge over competitors by improving quality, processes and managing risk through collaboration with your partners, instead of standing alone in today's tough marketplace.
Where do I start?
What drives a value chain?
Partners are driven to create and deliver value for the end customer
Figure 1 - Value Chain
Value focused attention on all events that impact the product from raw materials to customer purchase. The product is customer-focused.
Customer wants and needs are identified; quality and value are added to product to meet customer demands.
Demand pull - The customer drives business growth through market trends and demands by directing product value and quality.
Two-way flow of information sharing, trusted access to business data by partners, production and sales data enable improvements along the chain.
Inter-dependent - central decision-making structure for the chain. All partners have a stake in the value chain strategy.
Optimize the chain.
Example of a successful value chain: Ontario Platinum Peaches
For more information on value chains: visit www.ontario.ca/valuechains
Value Chain Principles
Before you commit to a value chain, you need to examine your business strategy and determine whether the value chain approach is right for you. Your business strategy is the way you attempt to separate or differentiate yourself from your competitors. You may aim to be the lowest-cost supplier or make a product that is unique and relatively expensive. A business plan also addresses more complex issues such as your approach to research the development of your product or service, your competitors and your existing business relations.
The following steps are meant to give you practical guidance in assessing your value chain readiness.
Personal Readiness Assessment
Business Readiness Assessment
Choosing Potential Value Chain Partners
Answering the following questions will give you a clear idea of the characteristics youre looking for in partners. Amicable business relationships are key to the success of a value chain, so your careful selection now will pay off later.
Think of a business relationship that works very well for you. Describe why you think it works well.
What characteristics does that organization exhibit? ______________________________________________________________________
What do you and your business do that contributes to the positive relationship?
Write down a list of qualities that you want to look for in any new partners.
What doesnt work?
Now think of a business relationship that doesnt or didnt go well. What happened that didnt work? Describe why you think it didnt go well. ______________________________________________________________________
What characteristics does the other organization exhibit?
What did you do that made it difficult to work together?
Write down a list of qualities you will avoid or check out when looking for new partners.
For more information: