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Project Management Toolkit Manual

A guide through project management within AIESEC

Dear reader,
The aim of this Project Management Toolkit is to collect a series of planning and team management tools, in order for team leaders ( and members ) to carefully plan and track their activities

Enjoy!

Table of content

1. 2. 3.

The Natural planning model .............................................................................................. 3 The idea............................................................................................................................... 3 Brainstorming ..................................................................................................................... 4 Envision the outcome ........................................................................................................... 4 External brainstorming ......................................................................................................... 4 Mind-mapping...................................................................................................................... 4

4.

Organizing & tracking projects in time ............................................................................. 5 GANTT ................................................................................................................................ 5 SWOT analyses .................................................................................................................... 5 Weekly priorities .................................................................................................................. 6

5. 6.

Market segmentation and target messaging.................................................................... 6 Goal setting & Strategy development ............................................................................... 7 Advantages of goal setting ................................................................................................... 7 Balanced Scorecard .............................................................................................................. 7

7.

Action plan .......................................................................................................................... 8 Next action list..................................................................................................................... 8 Waiting for list ..................................................................................................................... 9

8.

Feedback ............................................................................................................................10 The Feedback Process .........................................................................................................11 Tips for giving and receiving feedback..................................................................................11 Advantages of personal feedback .........................................................................................12 360 feedback ....................................................................................................................12

9.

Internal and External Communication .............................................................................12 Preparation and Announcement ...........................................................................................13 The location .......................................................................................................................13 The agenda ........................................................................................................................14 The meeting starts ..............................................................................................................14 During the meeting .............................................................................................................14 At the end of the meeting ...................................................................................................14 The output .........................................................................................................................14

10. Effective Team Meetings ...................................................................................................13

11. And always remember that ............................................................................................15

1. The Natural planning model


Many books are written on project management and ways to organize meetings, brainstorming sessions and action plans. Each of these models will have its advantages and will be preferred by certain writers, management gurus or corporate executives. The natural planning model is one of these models, trying to find a way to structure random thoughts on a certain issue / project. The reason why I chose this model, is not because it is better than other models, but because it is easy in use and it structures ideas in the way our brain naturally works. The Natural Planning Model consists of a 5-step phase: Define purpose and principles Outcome visioning Brainstorming Organizing Indentifying next actions The basic idea is that once you have envisioned your outcome, your brain will automatically start filling in the missing pieces. In other words, you will start thinking about those things you still have to do in order to get the project realized. This will be your brainstorming session, afterwards you can organize all of these thoughts in a structured way and you can start thinking about your first actions This is however only the beginning of a project theres a lot more to it, than merely organizing your ideas lets go through a normal project flow from beginning to the end, introducing some useful tools and tips that may be of any use for you.

2. The idea
Every project starts with an idea, a vision or a challenge. As a project manager it is important to understand where this idea is coming from. As mentioned above, you will have to define the purpose of the project: Why is it relevant for us? Why do I want to organize this event? What is the added value for my stakeholders ( LC, Alumni, Partners, Trainees, ) Is the project based upon needs of society? It is your task as a project manager to make your team understand all these reasons and make them understand your idea, make them see your vision! Your team will be more motivated if they understand why they are putting their time and effort in this, if they are on the same line as you are it defines success and clarifies focus. If you explain your project to others, always start with why you are doing this it will be easier for someone to accept an idea as relevant, if they know your motivation.

The value of defining purpose It defines success It creates decision-making criteria It aligns resources It motivates It clarifies focus It expands options It enhances creativity It brings clarity to your ideas It helps visioning the outcome

3. Brainstorming:
The best way to start a brainstorm session is by asking yourself how the project will look after execution; envision the outcome ! What do I want the project to look like? What feeling do I want people to have when to look back on it? What message do I want to get across? What should be the main goal of the project? Tips for outcome envisioning: View the project from beyond completion date Envision wild success Capture features, aspects, qualities

Yes, AND instead of Yes, but


Once you have decided how the project should look like, you will have a mental picture that is different from your current reality and you can start filling in the gabs through a brainstorm session Ideas will pop up in your mind in a somehow random and unstructured order. Mostly this process will happen in your mind, but for bigger and more complex matters, it might be valuable to use the technique of external brainstorming. The idea of external brainstorming capitalizes on writing down keywords in a structured way, so that every idea can be considered a trigger to another sometimes even better idea, resulting in a tremendous boost of your productive output. Many techniques have been developed over the past decades, however Tony Buzans Mindmapping is considered to be most famous. A mind-map is a diagram which holds the central core idea in the middle, and associated items, ideas, tasks branching off of it.

There are however some rules, which you need to take into consideration: Dont judge, challenge, evaluate or criticize Go for quantity, not quality Put analyses and organization to background You can also use software programs to digitalize your mind-maps and to integrate them within other software programs. Programs like iMindMap or MindManager are well known for their user-friendly interface.

4. Organizing & tracking projects in time


Once youve put all your ideas on a external medium, you can start organizing them This can be done in several ways, on different levels or in whatever order may be most useful to you. Personally, I think that every project should be outlined on a time-based level, in other words by making a GANTT chart. GANTT charts display every phase of a project related to its start and end date, allowing the reader to have a clear overview. You can create GANTT charts easily by using Microsoft Excel or project management software such as Microsoft Projects. You can find some planning templates in the Project Planning file. The main advantage of GANTT charts is that it easily allows you to track your project by showing which tasks have to be realized by which deadlines, by who and with which resources. But even more important, it also visualizes the implications when the deadline isnt met. Therefore it seems useful to me to check your timetable before every meeting, to keep track of your team and adjust them when needed. Another tool that could help you while drawing up your project plan is a SWOT analyses; it accounts the developments, occurrences and influences to which the project is liable, both on an internal as external level: Strengths and Weaknesses: internal influence ( circumstances can be adapted by the team ) Opportunities and Threats: external influence ( circumstances cannot be adapted by the team f.e. overall decrease in governmental grants ) SWOT analyses are usually made of a similar or preceding project, in order to give the new team something to start with. Therefore they are often composed in a final wrap-up meeting, where the entire team gathers and shares their opinion about the project. This is often a valuable moment for the team leader as well, because he/she has the opportunity to introduce a final feedback round ( see later ). However, SWOT analyses can also be drawn up before or during a project, as they will provide you important information on your projects boundaries and opportunities. The information gather out of the analyses will allow you to better comprehend your environment. Therefore it is advisable to draw up your SWOT analyses with the entire team, getting as much input as possible.

One can also decide to work with weekly priorities Using this technique, you will have to create a clear detailed picture of every aspect of your project. Personally Im not a fan of this weekly priorities because of two reasons: You can easily lose track It limits your perspective Many people tend to pin these priorities to certain moment in time ( a week, month, certain day ) and therefore writing them down in their agenda. When unforeseen circumstances arrive, you will have to deal with these first, before getting back to your priority-list. Once the day is passes, you will easily forget about the things youve planned for this day. Furthermore it limits your perspective and creative thinking, because you will tend to deal with these things first, and youll put other aspects to the background. If however, you would decide to work with priorities, do not write them down in your agenda, but make a separate action list of them.

5. Market segmentation and target messaging


Now you got your information organized, you might want to think about the message you want to get across Since every projects brings people with different backgrounds together, the first thing you want to do is to figure out which stakeholders will be involved. Stakeholders are people that might be affected by your projects, they can be internal stakeholders ( OC, EB, LC ) or external stakeholders ( partners, media, students at university, NGOs ). The degree of defining your stakeholders depends on the project itself. You can for example categorize the students at your university per faculty, per year of graduation, per gender, or per combination of the previous The degree of categorization will depend on the number of different key messages you want to get across to students. Once you got your stakeholders into subgroups, you will start to delineate the key messages you want to deliver to these people. Your project will have its general message, mostly being its relevance to society, your purpose ( see above ), however this is the reason why YOU would want to organize it. At this moment the stakeholders come into play and you will define a clear and detailed key message to each of your subcategories. This key message should hold the following things: Why would the stakeholder want to cooperate in this project? What are the benefits for the stakeholder? What can you offer that no-one else can deliver? What is your impact? Finally you will have to find a way to communicate your message, in other words; you will define the different media infrastructures you will use some ideas: aula speeches, posters & flyers, presentations, clipboards, promotional movies, teaser campaigns, awareness event, You can find the template for key messaging attached.

6. Goal setting & Strategy development


At this point you got your plan straight, you know why you are running this project ( cf. defining purpose ) and you know how you want your project to look after the expiration date ( cf. envisioning outcome ). In other words, you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. However, a vision is a rather broad conception of a desirable future state It is not specific or detailed, it is merely a common outcome desired by every member of the team. Goals on the other hand, are aligned with our vision, they represent the state of affairs an action plan attends to achieve. f.e. AIESECs vision is peace and fulfillment of humankinds potential, while a goal can be realizing 1000 Xs within an educational traineeship.

A goal is much more specific and time-related than a vision or an objective; it needs to be measurable. In this perspective goals are often defined according to the SMART-principles; they are thought to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related.

6.1.

Advantages of goal setting

The first advantage of defining goals is its motivational character: it might be useful to differentiate two types of goals; the ones that make your project succeed project goals and the ones that make the experience successful for your team members personal goals. This way you keep a balance between output and input, between production and production means, between numbers and people Keeping these goals by hand during meetings, or hanging them up the wall can be a great motivator for your team. Another advantage lies in the tracking of your activities: apart from your GANTT-chart, a regular review of the current status of your goals will help you in tracking the success of your project. If you would notice any inefficiencies or bottlenecks, it might be necessary to adapt your strategy.

6.2.

Balanced Scorecard

In order to define your goals in a more structured and well-considered way, you can make use of the Balanced Scorecard. The BSC is a performance management tool that is used to analyze a multilayer organization / project by taking all the stakeholders and business perspectives into account. When using the tool properly, you should be able to identify your: Critical Success Factors ( CSF ): things you should be good at in order to make the project succeed Key Performance Indicators ( KPI ): quantitative indicators to measure the CSFs

The BSC is a widely used tool in AIESEC to identify every years strategy, but it can also be used on other layers of the organization or as a effective planning tool. For more information have a look at the BSC 2010 PowerPoint or read the Balances Scorecard 2010 Introduction Extended document. You can find the Balance Scorecard template in the Attached Documents folder

7. Action plan
The final step is defining your next actions you need to break down your organized thoughts you prepared in the brainstorming session into executable actions. The best way to capture all these actions, is to review the entire mind-map and define every next action that you need to undertake to achieve your goals also check your GANTT chart, because this will show which actions need to be done first. After a while you will be faced with hundreds of next actions that need to be done, and you will often find your mind wondering off from one action to another, trying to remember which mails you need to send once you get home, which documents to read, etc. In order to structure you thoughts and allow you to think more effective, we will introduce David Allens Getting Things Done system. Whats written underneath is part of a bigger model that allows you to create structure in your everyday life and helps you with your time management. We will merely deal with the small part of creating action list. In order to comprehend the entire system of Getting Things Done, I strongly advise everyone who wants to expand his level of focus, to read David Allens book. Basically it comes down to this; you need to capture all your ideas, all your next actions on to an external medium in order to clear your head and think more effective. Your mind will focus more on the opportunities and the content of the action, instead of thinking about the action itself. To this end, we will introduce two major lists: a Next action list and a Waiting for list. You can make these lists on your computer or use a simple notebook.

Next action list:

You next action list is the list where you write down your next actions, being executable dealings that you need to undertake as soon as you have time for it. Time-related actions ( that need to be done on a certain moment in time ) do not go on your actions list, you will list them in a personal agenda. According to David Allen, your next action list is best organized according to its context: Anywhere: Action can be executed anywhere at any time f.e. think about how to involve sponsors in Calls At computer At office At home Errands: all the actions that require you to move around f.e. go pick up the promotional material at
Lindsays place our project

Read/Review: all the materials you still have to read. It might be useful to have a basket at your desk where you can put magazines and papers in. People: everything you have to discuss with a certain person use the filter to select one person at time, you get a quick overview on what to talk about with whom. Meetings

The advantage of organizing your list according to context is that you can f.e. have a quick glance at your call list when you have a 5min time interval between two meetings, you can easily do something that doesnt take long, nor takes a lot of your attention. It is important to remember that the things are on this list need to be exact, executable actions! In other words, the real next step that you should undertake to achieve what you want. Writing down have dinner with friends isnt an next action, it consists of a series of next actions you need to do in order to achieve having dinner; you need to look for a restaurant, call your friends, you need to book the restaurant etc. In other words, the intellectual work of defining what you are willing to do with the item, has already happened before putting it on your list. When you recall upon your lists itself, you only need to execute the action, without requiring any thinking.

Waiting for list:


In this list you will write down all the things you expect someone else to do. The advantage of creating your waiting for list on a computer, is the usage of filters in MS Excel they allow you to filter one name and automatically see which actions need to be done by this person. This is done by clicking on the arrow above the who column; you can now select one or more persons and the program will now generate a new list with only those people that you selected

This way you can easily create worklists ( list which contain a number of tasks that needed to be executed by certain people ). These lists can be printed and brought to every meeting, offering the project manager a quick overview of who is responsible for what. He will also be able to locate bottlenecks much faster. These lists need to be reviewed at a regular basis ( weekly ) to remain operational!

Example:
You have a vague idea of a project you want to start, but you still need to define what and how, so you write down brainstorm on project X on your Anywhere list. After a while you will have a clear idea and you will start to break down your plan into next actions:

Write business plan goes on your At computer list Contact company X for sponsoring goes on your Call list Read legislation on ASBL organizations goes on your Read-Review list Send mail to Tom and ask for contacts of National Project Team goes your At computer list
After a while you have a time window and you are on your computer, you open your At computer list and decide to send the email to Tom. Now you can erase this item of your list, but you will put Answer Tom about contacts for Project X (ref. 009381) on your Waiting for list. A couple of days later, you open your inbox and you see this email with the contacts. You decide on calling them later, so you put the number on your Call list and you erase the item of your Waiting for list.

You can find the next action template and the waiting for template attached. If you are interested in David Allens complete action management system, I recommend you to read his book Getting Things Done or take a look at this summary ( click ) and have a look at the promotional video ( click )

8. Feedback
Another important element in project management is the concept of feedback. Feedback is given in order to guide your project members through their experience; their performance will depend on your input. In other words, feedback serves two purposes: Improvement of attitudes and behavior Reinforcement of current behavior Everyone can give valid and worthwhile feedback, regardless of their level of experience, as long as the feedback is given on the actions and behavior of a person, and not the person himself. Often feedback holds negative points, therefore it may seem difficult for you to give it. However feedback is considered of high importance to most managers; it aligns the expectations of both the project manager and his subordinates or team members. Find out more about how to give and interpreter feedback underneath;

The Feedback Process


1. Start with the positive points Praise the persons strong points by emphasizing them and explaining how they helped you or the organization. This way the person will feel good about himself and he will repeat this behavior in the future. A positive environment has been created
Use phrases such as

I admire the way you, I am impressed by the way you, Every was pleased with your work regarding,

2. Point out the negative points Address the points that may be of any concern to you or that hold any room for improvement. Always include an example and give him/her suggestions on how to overcome this weakness. Try to make sure that he understands what you are trying to say and explain that you are trying to help him grow.
Avoid phrases such as

You did, You should have, You werent allowed, Yes but, Your work was great however and try not to talk in term of Dos and Donts or Wright and Wrongs.
Instead use personal statements such as

I felt, It seemed to me that, I wonder if, I sense.


Conclude with tactic, but honest and helpful suggestions;

There might be a missed opportunity here, It is a small thing but be aware of, One thing you might look for is, I really admire your courage in stepping up for this demonstration. Overall, I very much enjoyed We are very pleased and lucky to have you as a member of our team You have some wonderful natural coaching skills and with practicing and learning new skills, you will be a masterful coach.

3. Always end with a positive remark

Tips for giving and receiving feedback


The person who receives feedback Try to understand that your observer is trying to help you Seek for patterns or similar recommendations Dont allow yourself to become defensive Feedback is an opportunity to change Ask questions to clarify the feedback Focus on the areas of improvement Listen actively The person who gives feedback Chose a calm and neutral environment to give the feedback Keep your tone neutral; maintain positive and objective Evaluate the persons work, not his/her personality Ask for his/her point of view on this matter Always give the feedback in private If necessary, give examples Show them that you care

Advantages of personal feedback


It increases self-awareness It prevents unnecessary conflict It will motivate your team members if done properly It tightens the band between you and your subordinate Can be linked to a personal mentoring program

360 feedback

Finally well point out the importance of 360 feedback; 360 feedback differs from regular feedback because it is done in a group. It starts from the idea that feedback will be more valuable when received from every person that is involved in your professional occupation; colleagues, partners, subordinates, representatives, directors, etc. Feedback rounds are usually organized at the end of a meeting and can be organized in two ways. In the first possibility; you will be asked to give two positive and two negative characteristics about every person attending, this can be oral or written on a piece of paper. The other possibility exists in making a questionnaire with several questions and ask someone to chair the meeting for you. The main difference with normal feedback, is that you cannot react on this, otherwise it will resort in a group discussion. Also try not to repeat everything that has already been said before. Main advantages: Can be done anonymously (f.e. using pieces of paper) Stimulates open communications and group spirit Input from every team member It avoids unnecessary conflict Increases self-consciousness Supports development Fast and effective I thoroughly recommend to do this 360 feedback on a monthly basis, you will see that it will be a great learning experience!
Read more about feedback on this e-learning website ( http://www.faculty.londondeanery.ac.uk/e-learning/feedback )

9. Internal and External Communication


When organizing a project you want your team members to stay up-to-date at all time; you want them to have access to all project related material, you want them to know about latest changes, you expect them to be fully informed about everything thats going on in other words, you want to have a good internal communication.

Several virtual tools, such as MS Groove and Dropbox, can be used to support your internal communication. Both programs allow you to create virtual workspaces where you can upload documents and presentations. These documents can be seen and/or edited by all users connected to the workspace. If a file is edited, this is automatically synchronized amongst all users. It needs no further explanation that these tools are extremely useful when working in big teams who are willing to share their project documents. The main advantage of MS Groove over Dropbox, is that the space of your workspace is unlimited and that you also have the ability to access instant chat, leave notes, draw diagrams and share agendas. You can also integrate it with the entire MS Office package.
Learn more about MS Groove ( click - video is only accessible with Internet Explorer ) and Dropbox ( click )

Another aspect is called external communication; once the project is in place, you want to promote it to your stakeholders according to your compiled messages ( see above ). You have several media tools to do this, do however make sure that your material is always brand aligned! Therefore check the AIESEC Branding wiki. You can also find attached a collection of templates for PowerPoint and Word that will help you presenting your project. When involving partners in your project, it might be useful to write a business plan. A business plan is a formal document used to present the project to potential ( financial ) partners, in order to convince them to cooperate / sponsor the project. It should consist of: Background information on the organizing organization ( AIESEC ) The purpose and impact of the project The goals of the project ( = measurable goals ) The project plan ( how to achieve the goals ) Benefits for the partnering organization

10.

Effective Team Meetings

Until now we have been describing a series of planning tools and instruments which will help you managing your project. As mentioned before, the best way to plan and track your project, is by involving the entire team in the strategy youre willing to apply. This will make them feel responsible for the project, hence empowered and motivated to bring the project to a good end. Underneath youll find a series of tips in order to make your team meetings effective. Preparation and Announcement Always announce your meeting min one week in advance Mention the purpose of the meeting Keep the announcement short ( location, date, time, required readings ) Include the agenda of the meeting and mention the expected duration Assign meeting preparation to reduce actual meeting duration or background question The location Go for a familiar but calm environment, try to diversify Provide drinks and cups, this will set a more comfortable atmosphere Make sure the logistics are in place ( number of sockets, beamer, projection screen ) Provide sufficient blank paper and ballpoints for the participants to take notes Try to create natural light, but prevent windows that can cause distraction

The agenda Mention location, date and time of the meeting Mention topics, allocated time and speaker of discussion Design the agenda in a well organized way Its better to plan a 50min lasting meeting with an expected duration of 1 hour The meeting starts Start on time, even if some participants are late! Welcome everyone, even when theyre late, make them feel appreciated Mention the purpose of the meeting and set expectations Appoint someone who is willing to take notes of the meeting Go over the agenda During the meeting Stick to the agenda and the anticipated time-limit Encourage group discussions and feedback, involve timid persons by asking their opinion Be your own role-model; listen to understand, not to reply Appoint speakers one by one, prevent people from talking without being asked Keep the conversation on-topic, stick to the purpose of the meeting Summarize agreements and use hedging-techniques Spice up the meeting by visual material ( graphs, ppts, videos, articles, ) At the end of the meeting Always close a meeting by defining which actions ought to be taken by who and by when Thank everyone for their attendance and set a deadline to send the output Ask if anyone still has questions, if yes, let them approach you afterwards Thank the secretary for making notes The output Find a balance between details and length of the output Send the output of the meeting asap Conclude a worklist ( see above )

11.

And always remember that

Well, now youve got the basic tools and knowledge to start working on your project, theres nothing that can hold you back from success! And always remember that
As long as you keep these basic planning tools close at hand, and keep your team motivated and briefed at all times, your project will be an unique experience for all of you. But it will always require a certain believe in yourself and in those around you

success is a choice and that it starts by yourself!

Even if you dont make it to your organizational goals, theres still a team of people behind you that learned something from this happening, maybe even from you a team that has been motivated and inspired by your leadership. Share these feelings with your team and you will find that youve learned more than you would initially thought.

the biggest lessons are drawn from our mistakes

Whatever you do, do not let any setback break you down! Theres a first time for everything and one must learn how to walk, before he can start to run. And yes you will fall, but mistakes are made in order to learn from them. Ask yourself what went wrong, think it through and start again! Rome wasnt build in one day either!

learn by doing; practice makes perfect

Chase your dreams, live and lead by your vision You can accomplish anything you want, as long as you keep believing in it, as long as you keep striving to get it, as long as you NEVER GIVE UP! Because the people who are crazy enough to think that they change the world, are usually the ones who do...

the sky is the limit!

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving