How to Manage a Project

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Our Approach to Projects

As organisations change, more people are getting involved in managing projects. Projects are simply the best way to manage the introduction of such changes. Some of these projects will be major organisational-wide projects and IT projects, some medium-sized cross directorate, and some will be smaller projects local to a particular area.

All organisations that manage projects on a regular basis develop a set of "groundrules" that summarise the way projects are managed in their organisation. The following are the our groundrules. They will apply to all projects but will need to be tailored to suit a particular project.

In most cases the major organisation-wide and IT projects will be managed  within the PRINCE2 project management methodology. However, that methodology is not entirely suited to all medium-sized and smaller projects and the approach described here should be followed. It is simpler and more flexible but is compatible in that it follows the same principles and approaches.

1.     Projects are best managed through a broad structure of stages.

All projects are best managed through a broad structure of stages.

Five Project Stages

Three Stages

 2.     Project Organisation

3.    Project Proposal

Major and medium-sized projects should generally start with a Project Proposal stage. This covers the initial work involved in looking at the issues and options to establish "this is what we will do and what we will deliver", and results in a Project Brief. After this is agreed, the project is formally started.

4.     Projects are always Scoped

The Project Proposal stage establishes what the project is to deliver. The Project Scoping stage is to plan and organise that delivery.

All projects to have a Project Scoping stage where the project manager has the opportunity to scope the project. This stage will normally last a few days (or weeks for larger projects).It will focus on clarifying:

  • what the project objectives and terms of reference are,
  • what the issues are,
  • how the project should be organised and tackled - what tasks, what resources needed, what the schedule should be.

The conclusions should be summarised in a brief (typically two to five pages) Project Plan or Project Scoping Report.

5.     Project Plan or Project Scoping Report

A brief two to five page document which describes what the project is to achieve and how it will be organised and tackled. It should cover the following:

  • Terms of Reference and Objectives
  • Benefits & Costs - benefits to be realised and costs and disruption to be contained.
  • Top Level Plan - showing planned progress in terms of stages, milestones and activities.
  • Project Organisation - showing who is involved and the key responsibilities - project manager, project sponsor, team and contributors.
  • Risks and implementation issues which may occur.

6.     Project Control & Reporting

7.     Projects may be coordinated within Programmes

Many organisations coordinate individual projects via a number of strategic programmes. Each programme is built from a portfolio of inter-related projects, all contributing to a common outcome. In most organisations, some projects are coordinated and sponsored in this manner.


If you want more on the Project Management concepts used in this, you can read more details via the links to "Five Project Stages" and "Project Organisation".
For full details use the link to "Project Management Concepts"  in the side menu to the left.