How Project Configuration Works


How Project Configuration Works

Some lucky PMs work for companies that have well-defined standards and procedures for doing project work. But most of us work at places with little documentation or, worse, none at all. This is where project configuration becomes important.

Whether you’re one of the lucky project managers who will have a good foundation or one of the people who may be starting from scratch, you need to prepare specific guidelines for every project you manage. Think of them as a configuration plan, a description of how you will conduct business on that project.

The basic elements of a configuration plan are as follows: a description of who should be involved in the planning, the approach to scheduling, methods for preparing estimates (costs, time, and resources), a list of planning documents and their purpose, and a description of how and how often you will track progress. You should include a communication plan. It delineates the stakeholders who need to be kept in the loop and how and when you will contact them.

Project Configuration with PPM Software

With Project Management Software, you can develop a configuration plan based on your organization’s existing standards and procedures or create them as you go. Visual workflows allow all stakeholders and team members to understand project processes. As individual methods develop, PMs can create templates that can be used across similar projects.

It’s All in the Details

One thing that separates effective project managers from relatively ineffective ones is how much thought they put into documentation and communication from the very beginning of their project.

There’s a lot of documentation you could develop. But avoid excess—do only what makes sense and adds value. Documentation, like communication, is difficult to do well until you have some experience. Also, make sure you check for procedures in your company that are already documented. Share these procedures within your team.

To make developing your configuration planning manageable, divide the work into three parts:

Plan the approach: What general approach is best for your organization? (Cross-reference any existing procedures.) What is the best way to define scope? Estimate the effort, duration, and costs. Does your company use graphical summaries of timelines?

Plan the execution and control: How will you measure and verify progress? What constitutes a “change” that needs to be reported? Which approvals are required? What guidelines for team meetings and team collaboration do you want to establish and follow?

Plan for communication and personnel needs:

What method is preferred for documenting roles and responsibilities? What venues should be used to develop mutual expectations among you, the team, and management? Which process do you need to follow to secure staff time for the project? And finally, how can you make adjustments?

Easily configure projects with WorkOtter PPM. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can improve your Program and Portfolio Management.

“Project Management: 24 steps to help you master any project” by Gary R. Heerkens is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Purchase the book on Amazon.