Manage Projects

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					How to

This ‘How to’ guide is one of a series of guides produced by the
Research and Performance Unit as part of the Council’s Policy
Framework. It aims to give a brief overview on a particular
subject. All the guides, and other information about the Policy
Framework, can be found online at: under performance\guides
What is this ‘How to’ Guide all about?
This Guide is all about how to manage a project.

A project is a specific piece of work with a desired outcome,
specific terms of reference, a budget and resources.

It can be relatively small and simple – purchase of a piece of
equipment or perhaps development of a policy - or large and
complex, for example, transfer of a function to an external
provider or development of a new service.

What is the aim of project
The aim of project management is simply to achieve a
specified outcome, within budget and on schedule.

  Whilst small projects of short duration may be planned and
   completed successfully with no formal documentation or
 monitoring arrangements, it is essential that more complex,
longer term or high impact matters are effectively managed.

Who should be involved?
The number and range of people involved in a project will be
dependent upon its scope, importance to the organisation and
In the case of a small scale project with a short timescale, for
example, organising and running a seminar; you will only need
to involve a small number of people to plan the day, liaise with
speakers, book facilities, send invitations etc.

In the case of larger projects, with longer timescales and more
significant consequences for the authority, it is important to
decide who should be in the team and who is leading the

Blend of skills?
It is important that you have the right blend of skills within the
team for each individual project.

As Project Manager it will be worthwhile spending a little time
at the start of a project analysing the type and level of skills
you require and using this to identify who should be part of the

Clearly there may be a need to use specialist knowledge or
skills that are not available within the Council, in which case
these will need to be procured externally.

A good example of this would be the development of specialist
software systems.
How do I plan a project?
Define the objectives, the scope of the project and success

     What do you want to achieve?
     What is in and what is not?
     How will you measure success?

In order to do this you will need to collect information and
opinions from colleagues and other sources.

Identify the range of activities that will be included.

Identify resource requirements – staff time, revenue,
equipment, IT and training needs.

Identify constraints, such as budget, timescale and resources.

A comprehensive project document
will be a source of useful information
and will set the ground rules for the
To be effective it will need to:

     Identify who is in the project team, who is leading and
      who is monitoring progress
     Contain background information – why are you doing it?
     Set out communication and reporting arrangements
     Specify objectives – what do you want to achieve?
     Specify success criteria- - how do you know that you
      have succeeded?
    Outline the scope of the project
    Identify the resource requirement
    Identify constraints
    Detail major milestones
    Contain a detailed action plan
    Identify risks and contingencies.

Action planning!
The Action Plan is an outline of who will do what, when and
how to achieve the project objectives.

It may be useful to call together those who are likely to be
affected (not necessarily just the project team) and generate a
list of actions, dependencies and timing.

When creating the Action Plan it is
useful to:
    Split the project into phases and then stages.
    Work backwards from the final date and draft the main
    Identify the main tasks required to complete each
    Take into account staff availability, holidays etc.
    Take into account key dates for decision makers, for
     example, Cabinet, together with the timescale for
     consideration by other relevant officers.
Identification of risks and contingency
A risk and contingency plan is an outline of potential barriers
to completing your planned actions. The identification of
what could go wrong enables you to plan how to address the
problem and keep the project on course.

How do I monitor and report
In practice this will be dependant upon the nature and length
of the project.

Where a project is of corporate significance formal monitoring
will need to undertaken by a Project Board, usually made up of
appropriate managers and team leaders.

However, this could include members or representatives from
outside agencies if appropriate.

Where projects are linked to a priority, one of the Management
     Board should be identified as the strategic owner.

What do I do when the project has
been completed?
Projects often have good times and bad times and frequently
events occur, which mean that changes need to be made
along the way.
It is useful to review how things went after completion and you
should include all of those people who were involved in the

In particular you should consider:

    Whether or not the Success Criteria of the project were
     met? If not why not?
    What could have been done differently?
    Were the customers for the project satisfied with the
    Was the project clearly defined at the start?
    Were the action plans adequate and realistic? Were they
    Were deadlines met?
    Were budgets met?
    How did suppliers perform? Would they be used again?
     How are you going to feedback to them?
    How did the team work together? Were there any
     problems? Can we learn any lessons?
    Overall are there problems any outstanding and how will
     they be resolved?
    What approaches or solutions were used that were
     particularly useful and applicable to other projects?
  This Guide aims to help you to set up and manage
   Projects and details how Projects are monitored.

Other ‘How to’ guides are available from the Council’s
        Performance Management website at
 or direct from the Research and Performance Unit.

                      Contact us:

         Mark Williams ( 01258 484018 or
          David Trotter ( 01258 484056

with your request or any questions that you may have.

                    Or e-mail us at:


           Research and Performance Unit
North Dorset District Council, ‘Nordon’, Salisbury Road,
         Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 7LL

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