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Friday, August 19, 2016

Project Management 101, 2.0

To paraphrase my brother Ted:

  • "Nothing exists unless it's written down.  Oral communication is the enemy.  That is the essence of project management.  Everything else is a detail."

Good project management comes from an innate discipline to intermediate between the real-time world and the planned world by writing things down.   The exact format, process, and tools used should be appropriate to the project complexity and size.

There are, however, some essentials which I use use every time.  Here is my checklist for each project I am involved with:

  • Step 1, set up a shareable folder for working documents.  I use Google Drive.  The support for real-time collaboration is unparalleled. 
    • Step 2, create a spreadsheet.  Again, I use Google Sheets now.  I used to always use (and love) Excel. 
      • Step 3, create a tab for People and for Tasks.  
      • Step 4 (for any formal project), create a project charter and sign contracts (where appropriate).  A contract is an agreement between organizations, typically, although it can apply to individuals.  A charter is typically between the people involved with the project.  A charter can be used by both formal and informal projects to write down the key information needed to start a project successfully.

      • Step 5 is where project complexity begins to create real variance in approach.  For a simple project, a list of tasks and people may be all that is needed.  Often additional lists in the workbook can be generated for the specifics of the project.  For more technical projects, a threaded discussion with workflow like JIRA and project schedule and resource tool like MS Project are often used.  

      Putting Private Capital to Work for Public Innovation

      The Education Department said today it will double down on the Pay for Success model to fund early learning with a $2.8 million grant competition open to states and local governments wishing to study the feasibility of the model in their area.

      The Pay for Success model is centered around social impact bonds, where a government agency or contractor pays a service provider for the achievement of pre-established outcomes. Typically, private entities absorb the upfront costs and are reimbursed later.

      Among the measurable outcomes that Education Department officials are suggesting: kindergarten readiness, improved social and emotional skills, improved executive functioning, reduction in grade retention and in the need for later special education, reduction in discipline referrals and interactions with law enforcement, and increases in high school graduation.

      The grant will fund seven to 14 entities, with awards ranging from $200,000 to $400,000. The dollars are not meant to pay for the implementation of Pay for Success programs, just the development of local feasibility studies.

      Education Department officials have praised the results of a PFS program in Utah, where the model has gained the backing of state lawmakers. Backed by Goldman Sachs, it has also garnered criticism for overstated success.

      House lawmakers passed a bill to fund social impact bonds in June.