• Duane C. Barney

Anticipation is Project Management

Management in general and specifically in project management is a focus on anticipating problems and then solving them before they happen. This will not prevent the occurrence but will serve to manage the incident in a sane manner.

Depending on your management role your anticipation view will vary, the higher in management, the longer your view. For an assistant project manager, the view may only be for a few weeks to a month, a Project manager should be long no less than three months down the road and will vary based on project size. This is what planning and management are all about which is what leadership is made of.

You can’t lead from the weeds a big picture view is required and putting out fires is not management. For every fire, there should be a bucket close by or a spark that never materialized because it was anticipated.

The largest portion of work for project managers is pre-project and no more than 50% complete. Once the halfway point is achieved the mindset should be maintenance and closeout and the on-going changes. Being essentially complete with the planning phase will allow ample time to manage the last-minute changes for which everyone wants implemented without time impact. A well planned and managed project will go a long way in incorporating those changes. The completion portion of the project is also the one that will be remembered not the groundbreaking. Having the project well underway with time to manage completion if essential to a smooth finish.

In managing any project, you should be continually looking into the crystal ball; ask yourself what activities are coming up and then the five “w’s”.

1. Who is doing it, are contracts in place, support documents etc.?

2. What are they doing, do they have everything they need?

3. Where are they working, will the other work be completed and ready

4. When will they start, check that schedule for conflicts

5. Why – In project management, you hope you never have to ask why by then it is too late; ask How? Look forward. Even if it goes wrong keep asking How? There will be plenty of time to ask why, but why does not fix the problem, it is done, it is time to ask how and start at the beginning of the list.

Be forward thinking, before there is a problem to solve five steps ahead and always moving forward., Without your energy and momentum, the project will slow to a stop, you may not be able to make it go faster but poor management can slow it down to a crawl, so anticipate.

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