5 Phases to Any Project That Every Professional Should Follow

Tech expert Bob Dolph explains why everyone is a project manager, regardless of job title, and offers a handful of project management software suggestions.

Do you want to know what a project manager looks like? If not, just look in the mirror. It does not matter if you are a lonely tech, a job supervisor or a manager. Simply put, everything you work on is a project on some level of size and complexity.

The basic rules and guidelines of project management apply. They should be known and understood by all. This will make sure that your projects are accomplished properly.

What are the project management rules and guidelines? First off, remember that “project management” is simply the art of getting things done. A project is an event with a defined beginning and end.

The official definition of project management comes from the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and it states the term as, “The application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholders needs and expectations from a project.”

There are five phases to any project that every professional should follow. The first is the initiation phase. This is when the project officially starts, is named and defined. Requirements and analysis are performed. This is where a project charter is formed.

Second is planning and it is the most important. Included in this phase are the scope, cost, duration, quality, communications risk and resources. Don’t forget to include the customer as much as possible in this stage. It may seem obvious, but if this stage is not completed properly it will greatly impact the remaining project. Double check everything.

The third project stage is implementation. You have checked all the paperwork. Make sure you have a scheduling practice in place so that everything runs smoothly. I personally prefer the use of Gantt charts to easily visualize where every phase of the project stands in reference to the overall project timelines. Place important milestones in your schedule to help identify your progress. Communication is very important, so keep all staff and stakeholders informed. Execution will include status meetings and updates. This is an important phase as it will decide the success of the project.

Step four is the monitoring and control phase. You want to make sure all parts of implementation work as planned. Additionally, steps need to be taken to monitor project performance going forward. Look at corrective actions to keep the project on course.

One advanced technique for this is called the Critical Path Method (CPM). It is a method used to predict project duration by analyzing which sequence of activities has the least amount of scheduling flexibility. It actually uses diagrams to analyze the best project performance paths.

The final step is the project closure phase. Just like a formal opening, a project must have a formal closing. All products, services are delivered and tested. Training has been included. The customer must sign-off.  Don’t forget to take pictures.

It you are not using any sort of project management software then you must take a serious look. Even if you are a small dealer with small projects, today’s software is so flexible that it is worth taking these tools into serious consideration (see tool of the month).

In recent years the Internet Cloud has made a great impact on the versatility of project management software. Working through the Cloud provides reliable remote management techniques which are especially important in this era of COVID-19.

As you might imagine project management software comes in many flavors and variations. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the many vendor offerings. It is up to you on how you want to approach this challenge of accepting and implementing the right package for you.

You are a busy person so you may want to use software already specifically designed for alarm dealers. Some to consider are AlarmCAD, bidtracer and D-Tools. I have been very impressed over the years with the quality of open source software. The software is a great price ― free for smaller start-ups. One that has caught my attention is Talaia’s OpenPPM.

I have been very impressed with some of latest project management software with a very modern touch. It makes easy use of communication over the Cloud with staff’s smartphones.  One that has recently caught my attention is called Notion. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the great efforts by the Security Industry Association (SIA) with the offering of its SPM and CSPM programs. These are great ways to advance your project management skills within the security industry.

D-Tools System Integrator.

Tool of the Month

They say first impressions are very important. System Integrator (SI) from D-Tools will make any company look like they have a dedicated design and planning department.

Make your sales presentations top notch. Great project management software you can grow with.

About the Author

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Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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