Projects are fundamentally about change, and change is difficult to get right. The Project Management toolkit provides a standard framework for Project Managers to successfully manage and deliver a project. This guide will support those officers who are undertaking work on all types of projects, as well as other work that is best tackled using a project-based approach. Beneath all the jargon and technical terms, project management is essentially about common sense and sound organisational and communication skills. It is essential that Project Managers read the whole of the toolkit before a project starts and refer to it throughout the life of the project.
All Council projects should adhere to the corporate approach set out in this document. However, the toolkit is for guidance; some smaller projects or project-based work will not need all of the paperwork provided in this toolkit, whereas very large projects may need to expand further on the information and templates provided and take a more prescribed PRINCE2 approach than this toolkit provides. There is more guidance on this in the Requirements for Different Types of Projects section.
A Project Manager is responsible for the day to day management of a project. The PRINCE2 definition is:
‘Project management is the planning, delegating, monitoring and control of all aspects of the project, and the motivation of those involved, to achieve the project objectives within the expected performance targets for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risks’
It is important to note that this definition specifically covers delegation, so the Project Manager does not do all the work themselves. A good way of thinking about this is to consider building a house. A new house is completed by creating drawings, foundations, walls, a roof, plumbing, wiring etc. If you are not fully able to do all these things yourself (which you are probably not!) then you will need to get others to do some or all of this work; delegation. It is you as the Project Manager who plans in what order the work needs to be carried out and when, how many tradespeople are required, monitor how well the work is progressing compared to the plan, take action if things are not going to plan or if opportunities arise to speed up the work or save money.
PRINCE2 identifies six performance targets for projects which Project Managers must control on a day to day basis:
- Cost – The project must be affordable and value for money. A budget will be set but there are lots of things that could lead to overspending and there may also be opportunities to cut costs, so this must be monitored and controlled
- Time – When will the project finish? It is important that a project finishes on time if possible, especially if it is delivering something that has a specific deadline by when it has to be completed. Also, projects that overrun often end up costing more in terms of money and staff time
- Quality – A project that completes on time and to budget is pointless if the result of the project does not work because the level of quality was not right. A project’s products must be fit for purpose
- Scope – What exactly will the project cover and what will be delivered? Different people can often talk at cross-purposes and have different expectations without realising it. It is important to agree what is in scope, and equally what is out of scope, so all interested parties understand and don’t expect different things. The Project Manager needs to be careful not to deliver beyond the scope as this often leads to delays, overspends and unauthorised changes to the quality of a product. However, if it becomes clear that it would be sensible to increase the scope of the project, the Project Board can agree to do this, but the Project Manager will need to show the effect on the other performance targets
- Risk – How much risk is there involved with carrying out the project? Is this acceptable for the benefits that are likely to be delivered? Can we do anything to reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring or the impact that the risk would have if it did occur?
- Benefits – Why are we doing this? What is the business case? The project’s product could be perfect but if it doesn’t deliver sufficient benefits then what was the point going through the effort of delivering it? Projects are investments in terms of time and money so it must be clear that it is worth doing – this could be financial in terms of making a saving or delivering an income, or could be around delivering other corporately important outcomes e.g. increasing take up of a service. Project Managers must ensure that what the project delivers is consistent with achieving the desired return on the investment
The six performance targets all have an effect on one another e.g. if the scope of a project is increased it is very likely that the cost of delivering the project and the time taken to complete the project will also increase. It is essential that these factors are balanced to best meet the needs of the organisation.