10.2. Initiating Project Work
Your project plan has been approved, your project team is in place and you've gotten the official "ok" to proceed. Getting project work going and monitoring its progress is your next step. The purpose of all the planning you've done is to be able to control your project once work gets underway. Control is the process of comparing where you are to where you were supposed to be so you can make corrections as you go. It's like driving a car. If you're in control of the car (driver), you use the accelerator, brake pedal, and steering wheel to make small corrections as you go so that you stay in your lane heading in the direction you decided to go. You speed up, slow down, or stop as needed to stay in the flow of traffic, to avoid hazards, and to arrive safely at your destination. You may occasionally alter your original course because of road construction or a major delay en route. Maintaining control of your project is a similar process that will require you to speed up, slow down, swerve or stop from time to time in order to drive your project to successful completion.
10.2.1. Start of Work Announcement
Though you may have already held a project kick-off meeting to get your project team together and aligned, you should hold a meeting to mark the start of project work with your team. You should review project processes and procedures, clarify next steps, and review first deliverables and milestones with the team. In addition, you should send out an announcement to your company or department that project work has commenced. This is a key communication that helps everyone know you are moving out of the planning stage and into the work stage (which counteracts those who complain that "all we ever do is plan, we never get anything done") and also lets people know that the resources they committed to this project will now be called upon. If your project relies on outside resources including equipment, vendors, or contractors, be sure to let them know the project has commenced. In some cases, you'll need to re-verify time estimates, bids, quotes, or lead times to ensure the numbers you're working with are still accurate.
This is a good time for team members to verify their own next steps and to ensure the resources they need for their first tasks are lined up and ready to go. Remind team members of when first status reports are due, review procedures for change and issue management, and ensure everyone knows how to update the status of their tasks (both schedule and budget) based on the project management system you're using (Microsoft Project, a Web-based PM tool, tasks in Microsoft Outlook, e-mail, etc.).
10.2.2. Implementation of Project Plan
The project should get off to a smooth start if your project plan is sound. Work should commence on initial tasks as scheduled. Your job as IT project manager, at this point, is to monitor and manage all the moving parts. You should check on project progress regularly. Your status reporting intervals should be frequent enough that big problems won't sneak up on you, but not so frequent as to drive your team crazy. You may need to adjust your status reporting interval once project work is underway to accommodate the actual needs of the team and the project. All work should proceed according to the project plan and it's important to make sure this happens right from the beginning. Starting out on the right foot helps the team learn and apply the project procedures and helps you verify that everyone is using those procedures. If you or your project team develops bad habits at the outset, your project is at greater risk.