Direct and Manage Project Work: Definition and Benefits
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Project managers are responsible for overseeing multiple activities simultaneously, monitoring project progress, coordinating the work of various professionals within a team, and ensuring they meet deadlines. To do this, managers are required to lead and motivate team members who often have different skill sets, educational backgrounds, and levels of experience. Learning more about internal and external project management processes and how their elements can affect project success can help you develop better leadership skills and lead your team toward success.
In this article, we define the process of directing and managing project work, list its inputs and outputs, and review all the benefits this method provides.
What is direct and manage project work?
Direct and manage project work is a project management process that allows you to lead a team, handle resources, and oversee the completion of a project. This process comprises executing a strategy planned by a project manager and managing its interfaces. It's necessary that this strategy considers unexpected events, unforeseen client requests, and changes in the project's budget, as these factors entail risks that can produce unplanned work. Applying the direct and manage process may help managers choose the best approach to address these issues and ensure the completion of the original project.
They can do this by securing and handling enough resources, such as employees, technology, and money, and following pre-established company procedures and industry standards. By doing this, they guarantee similar results throughout the project and avoid the risk of producing malfunctioning products or poor-quality services. During this process, managers can also hire and train new employees, show them what type of results the company expects from them, and review how they can achieve project milestones. Other activities managers can perform during the direct and manage process include:
Improving project interfaces with stakeholders and clients
Handling vendors and processing their invoices
Setting up new deadlines and project milestones
Establishing protocols to handle project data
Opening and supervising communication channels
Providing feedback to employees and suppliers
Facilitating communication between team members and the company's upper management
Creating emergency protocols to address project risks
Finding ways to keep team members engaged and motivated throughout the project
Reviewing changes and explaining to team members how to implement them
Inputs and outputs of direct and manage project work
Project inputs comprise the assets that contribute to a project's success, while outputs refer to all physical and non-physical assets the project produces when it reaches its main objective. This means that team members usually work to transform inputs into outputs, using a variety of tools that can help them achieve this goal. In the direct and manage process, these techniques comprise expert judgment, project management information system, and meetings. Expert judgment allows project managers to make decisions based on their own criteria, but also consider the expertise of their team members, industry experts, and other managers within the organization.
They can also listen to vendors, service providers, professional associations, and public authorities. Project management information systems (PMIS) comprise a wide range of techniques that enable managers to monitor project progress, schedule teamwork sessions, get approvals, and configure data systems. Meetings are gatherings of stakeholders designed to exchange information, make decisions, make recommendations, solve problems, and plan future activities. These tools and techniques can help team members process and create the following inputs and outputs:
Here are the inputs of the direct and manage process:
This is the plan designed by the project manager and refers to the steps and tasks that team members may execute to reach project success. This plan usually defines stakeholder responsibilities, project milestones, roles, project phases, and the monitoring process. Usually, this plan also contains sub-plans to describe each project activity in more detail. For instance, if a manager designed a project plan for the construction of a building, the plan may contain sub arrangements to explain phases such as land and foundation or wall and roof construction.
The project document contains the project's ongoing details, such as each completed phase, changes made to any activities, lessons learned from previous projects, milestones, and deadlines. It can contain communication details, such as project reports, meeting minutes, and e-mails. This information helps project managers know who generated each communication document and the purpose of the document.
The project document also refers to pending activities, scheduled events, foreseen risk factors, and opportunities. It's important for project managers to ensure their team members record each activity in the document, as they can use it later to audit and evaluate the entire project.
These are the changes requested by the client or the upper management and executed by the project manager and their team. These changes tend to adjust the project scope, budget, and timeline. They also look for improving quality, correcting errors or omissions, and saving resources. As some changes are predictable and others typically emerge during the project execution, it is important to have protocols and procedures established to handle these unforeseen changes.
Enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
These are factors that project managers consider when they're making decisions about a project, but also factors that can limit the project and affect its success. They comprise infrastructure, which refers to the equipment, facilities, and technology team members can use to complete their tasks, and cultural and structural elements, which refer to the organization's values, vision, mission, business objectives, and structure or the way the organization operates.
EEFs also refer to risk tolerance, which means the degree to which a project manager and project stakeholders are comfortable with the risks associated with the project. For instance, if the project aims to invest in mutual funds, the manager might evaluate those funds that contain stable instruments, such as government bonds, or those that offer higher returns but higher risk, such as hedge funds.
Organizational process assets (OPAs)
These are project guidelines and procedures that team members follow when working on a project. They explain the channels and ways used by stakeholders to communicate and share information. They also comprise instructions issued by the client, project manager, and upper management and standardized guidelines, which are parameters set by the client and the project management.
Here are the outputs of the direct and manage process:
Deliverables comprise the results of a project, and managers can use them to track progress. These results depend on project objectives, and clients and upper management can suggest amendments and changes after reviewing them. For instance, within a construction project, the building design generated by an architect comprises one deliverable, and the client can suggest some changes after reviewing it.
Performance data comprises observations and notes taken by the manager during the course of the project. It can also contain measures and rates relevant to the project. For instance, in a construction project, performance data consists of the number of days taken to complete a building.
These are formal requests made by the client and stakeholders to introduce changes to the project. These changes can modify deliverables, strategies, or documents. Sometimes, third parties, such as consultants or authorities, can propose or enforce changes.
These refer to updates made to the project plan, such as adding a new sub-plan or deadline. It also refers to changes made to the project document, such as registering an omitted activity or refining the description of a deliverable. For instance, the project manager might update the project plan if new stakeholders are participating in the project.
Benefits of directing and managing project work
Here are the benefits of directing and managing project work:
Allows project managers to track each deliverable. This can help control and reallocate unused resources to other sub-plans. It can also help verify that each deliverable aligns with the project objectives and the overall plan.
Prepare team members to apply changes. Using this method helps team members have guidelines and standards they can follow when the client or the upper management introduces unexpected changes. Team members may feel confident and prepared to handle these changes and produce a quality deliverable.
Ensure quality. This process helps project managers follow quality assurance procedures and assists them in guiding team members on how to execute their activities without sacrificing quality. It can also help them identify the root cause of quality issues and address them in the specific project phase where they arise.
Helps other project managers within the organization. As this process entails registering all the project's details, other project managers can use the log to learn from the project's experience and the way the team reached success. It can also help them make decisions and establish criteria for their own projects.
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