Project Management: Using the Tools of PMI

Precision Concepts Meeting

It’s one thing to have Project Management Institute (PMI) certification. It’s another thing entirely to actually use those tools and techniques to ensure that every project receives the attention they deserve. It is possible to achieve certification but to actually benefit from this methodology, you have to be committed.

PMI methodology involves an integrative approach to management, utilizing five different phases: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring/controlling, and project closure.

In order to really make this method work, though, it’s important to consolidate information and keep communication channels open throughout every phase. Let’s take a closer look at how this approach can impact each phase of project management.  

1.  Initiating

Project initiation sounds simple enough. It’s just a matter of pressing the start button, right?

Not exactly.

The goal here should be to fully define the project goals and completely understand the scope and feasibility. This may involve establishing the project charter and creating project summary sheets that ensure you have the internal resources to achieve the final objective.

This phase is especially important when there are regulatory standards that must be met and documented. A detailed checklist is a simple and effective way to ensure that you don’t miss any of the important details when the project is finally given a green light.

2.  Planning

The planning phase is often considered the most important part of the PMI method. This is when you will determine who is doing what, set up the timelines, implement risk management, and establish the most effective route to accomplishing the established goals.

Communication with the project team is critical for the planning stage, which may include weekly meetings with detailed notes. From the inception of the project to closing, you should have simple and immediate access to all these notes in a single document.

It’s also important to know all your key contacts before getting started, so you’ll know exactly who to ask for things like project timelines and other important information.

During this phase, a detailed assessment should also be performed on every individual risk factor.

A lot of people think about risk assessments when their projects are getting started, but not everyone completely follows through with them.

The most effective way to implement a risk management plan is to start by segregating the different risk factors so it’s easy for anyone to find the exact information they need.

Are you worried about your equipment? What about your ability to recover after natural disasters? How serious is each individual risk to your business continuation? Defining these individual risk factors will help you get started.

Once each risk has been defined, you can utilize a Risk Priority Number (RPN) to determine the potential impact each factor has on your business. More importantly, a system that uses an easy-to-understand grading system like this can help communicate the risks that have been discovered throughout the planning phase.

This phase also requires extensive training for everyone on the project team. Ideally, every single operation should have at least 3 operators who are certified in the process. This means the entire team is cross-trained in a variety of disciplines, so someone is always ready to do the work.

3.  Executing

Now that the extensive planning is complete, it’s time to put it into practice.

There are several tools that help ensure this execution phase runs as effectively as possible. These tools include:

  • Project Transfer Matrix – This is our proprietary tool that allows us to consolidate everything in one location. This is a living spreadsheet system that provides instant access to the information you need.
    • Several other tools are included in this matrix, such as; Cross Reference Document Master, Master Validation Plan, and BOM structure document.
  • Issue Log – This document is kept separate from the Project Transfer Matrix because it contains so much information. This log is still shareable, so you can keep track of what is happening, what should happen, and how a task was closed.

4.  Monitoring and Controlling

This phase is critical to ensuring the highest levels of quality.

Throughout this stage, you need to review performance efficiencies and determine if there are areas where further improvements can be made. This is also when you need to evaluate whether or not the project is meeting the goals from the initial charter.

Many companies, at this point, will simply hand over the project to operations and forget about it, but that may not be very effective.

Instead, once the project has been approved by the client, the handover from New Product Development (NPD) to production must happen very carefully and deliberately. Communication and consolidation is critical throughout this phase to ensure that nothing is lost along the way and that all information can be shared by everyone involved with the project.

Once the project is fully in production and even reaching the marketplace, it’s imperative that the process is continually monitored and controlled in order to maintain high levels of quality and ensure the results continue to match the original specifications.

5.  Project Close

Finally, there comes a point that the project can be closed. The Issue Log is a critical component of this phase since it allows you to see everything in detail, from start to finish. It may highlight the things that were learned on this project and how those lessons may be applied to your next endeavor to ensure that

Precision Consolidation

Over the years, we have discovered that extensive consolidation is what really makes this method work effectively.

In any project, there is a lot of information flowing from one person to the next – from one place to the next – and it can easily lead to confusion.

We avoid those issues by focusing on communication and planning throughout every phase of the PMI method. More importantly, we actually follow the PMI method.

To us, it’s more than just a certification. For us, it is what makes every project a success from beginning to end.