Another way to Manage Projects

Category: Work

Published: 02/11/2013 04:45 p.m.

There are several processes for successful project management. Here is a six-step process aimed at solving problems associated with managing projects that involve multiple people.

1. Identify

This is when you spot something that is wrong. You may not know why or even the core of what is wrong, but just that something doesn't fit. This step can be done by almost anyone.

2. Define

This is where you write out (maybe add drawings) a definition of the problem. The definition may include exactly what must be done to solve the problem, or it may just be a solid definition of the problem that was previously identified. The definition should be able to be handed to anyone without needing communication back up the chain (talking to the identifier, definer, or someone else who "knows the problem"). All of this information must be contained in the definition. Problems can arise if the definition does not solve or address the actual issue that was originally identified.

3. Delegate

The definition must be given to a single person who is responsible for it's completion. This person may require technical help to solve it, but not help to redefine the work. If they redefine the work, they may no longer be addressing what was identified originally, leading them down the wrong path.

4. Do

This is the step where the work is done. Again, this should not involve a redefinition. If it is determined that a redefinition is needed, the task should move back to the Define stage to be fixed, and then move through the process from there to be re-delegated.

5. Review

Once the work is done, those involved need to review the work to check that it does address the issue or solve the problem that was originally identified. It does not matter whether or not it solves the definition, as this piece is no longer important. It must address the original item from the Identify step.

6. Confirm

The final step is complete when the original identifier or stakeholder agrees that what was identified is no longer an issue.

Why are there so many steps? Why does it involve so much interaction?

Each step is in place to communicate the task to the next person in line and to ensure it's completion. Once something is identified, it will need to be defined in a way that is understood by the delegator and do-er, not necessarily by the identifier. Next, the delegator assigns it and monitors it's completion. The Do-er does the task, which is then reviewed by most of the people involved thus far, including the identifier or their agent. Finally, that person confirms it, which completes the process.


Typo on slide 2

  • Identify - Ann: There is a typo on slide 2.
  • Define - Ann: The word "their" in the second sentence on slide 2 should be "there".
  • Delegate - Mark: I can fix that right now
  • Do - Mark: (corrects the spelling)
  • Review - Mark: Looks good?
  • Confirm - Ann: Yes.

This situation only has two people involved, which is the fewest for the process. If it's just you doing this, you are already doing all the steps and probably don't need to map them out.

Flat tire

  • Identify - my tire is flat
  • Define - the right front tire on my acura rsx needs to be repaired or replaced
  • Delegate - guy at tire store, please take action from what I have defined
  • Do - tire is repaired or replaced
  • Review - look at the right front tire on the acura rsx to make sure it had been repaired or replaced
  • Confirm - tell car owner that the work is done

In this example, there are three people involved. The car owner identifies and defines the problem to an employee at a tire story, who then delegates it to someone with the technical skill to fix a flat tire. Both employees review the tire after repair, along with the car owner, who confirms the work is done.

Miscommunication is a big risk, because you can have Do-ers and reviewers constantly redoing work because it isn't being confirmed because it doesn't correctly address the issue identified.

Task managers can have less rework and shorter timelines by splitting these steps out and understanding the importance that each step plays in getting to the confirm. By finding the step where we went wrong (misdefined, not delegated quickly, not done right, not reviewed yet), we can move tasks forward faster and more accurately.

While this system is not GTD, the initial steps do mirror some of those ideas:

  • Identify = Capture
  • Define = Processing
  • Delegate = Set context and start/due dates
  • Do = Do

Review and confirm are added to create a better way to be sure something is done.