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Project Management Basics for Telecom

by Nermine Shaker

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Published on this site: September 19th, 2009 - See more articles from this month



Telecom projects, like any other project, need special attention if you want the project to be successful and done on a schedule. One way to proceed on a telecom project is to hire a telecom management professional to oversee the project. Another way is to use a project management software program. There are many software programs available that cover the many facets of project planning including document management, workforce management, time/expense management, client collaboration, custom forms, knowledge management, and certified email. Either way, due to the complexity of some telecom projects, it is vital to your success to use one of these options.

Since telecom projects can involve things like site selection, surveys, permitting, and a host of other things that have to be done in a certain order, project management is vital to a successful telecom project. If you are winging it, it is likely that your work will be less than desirable and you may end up with a bungled project and an unhappy customer or even worse - an unhappy boss.

What exactly is project management? It is the managing of skills and resources to accomplish a goal. There are project management principles that can be put in place, like a template, and worked through manually or you can opt for some great software that will guide you step by step through the process. The most important thing in managing a project is that everything needs to be in writing and available to everyone on the team and all that information needs to be updated constantly as events happen.

What's the Goal?

Let's take a look at what you are trying to accomplish with project management. First, you want to make sure that you know exactly what you and your workers are doing. Who are the customers and what do they need? What do they want and most importantly what do they expect? As a company with integrity that wants a long and prosperous future, you want to make sure that everyone is clear on these points. Getting a written agreement stating exactly what your customer wants and what you will provide would be a prudent move.

Assess Your Resources

Once you know exactly what your customer wants, you have to make sure that you are prepared to meet their needs. By prepared I am referring to having the time, resources and skills to give them what they want. This is where project management really begins.

Your project management will include planning, monitoring and following every activity involved in the project. You will constantly be reexamining all tasks and activities to make sure that you haven't missed anything important. This may sound difficult but once you are rolling, you will see just how using project management principles actually simplifies things. Also, once you commit to this process, I can almost guarantee that you will use some form of project management every time you work on a new project.

Planning

In the planning phase all of the known elements will be put in writing. Sound simple? Well, it might sound simple, but it is really a complex, thoughtful job. You will be breaking down the entire project into smaller segments or tasks. You will list all tasks and then put them in the order in which they need to occur. Then you will forecast scheduling of each task to the best of your ability and give an estimated completion date for each task and for the entire project. At this point you really need to look at possible risks; meaning things that might come up that could throw the schedule off. The planning phase really does need to be comprehensive. The more thorough your plans are, the easier it is to assess risks and forecast scheduling.

Scheduling

Hopefully, when you begin scheduling you will have a great team assembled and ready to go. You need to know who will be doing what and exactly when they will be doing it. Charting is mandatory in this process. A line chart showing the task and who will do it is effective here because you can put each objective on a timeline and visually capture when it is completed.

Monitoring and Re-Assessing

When the work begins, you will be the one monitoring and controlling the events. This is a crucial step that will save you time, money and embarrassment. You will measure the progress on your timeline and if you see that things are not occurring as planned, you will need to go back and make adjustments. Maybe you underestimated the time a task would take or maybe something unforeseen came up that you hadn't figured on in your risk assessment. If you are continually monitoring and adjusting, you will find that the project will progress at a nice, predictable rate and any customer would be happy with that. When all the smaller tasks are finished, you will have completed a large project with hopefully only a few problems along the way. Now you're ready for the next big project to manage.



Nermine Shaker is a Partner at THE SYGNAL GROUP, a telecom consulting firm that offers telecom expense management, telecom auditing and VoIP management to businesses of all sizes. Find out how to lower your telecom expenses at http://www.SygnalGroup.com/ or visit our blog at
http://www.TelecomExpertise.com/.

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