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The minimum you need to deliver any project successfully

by Anton van den Berg

Projects are complex constructs that for the most part drives us into the unknown. (Before you begin, see the Basics of Project Management to make sure you are working on a project).

According to the project management institute (PMBOK Guide and Standards), which provides a very comprehensive approach to managing projects, there are 9 knowledge areas associated with controlling or managing projects:

  1. Project integration management.
  2. Project scope management.
  3. Project time management.
  4. Project cost management.
  5. Project quality management.
  6. Project human resource management.
  7. Project communications management.
  8. Project risk management.
  9. Project procurement management.

Iif you are starting out, or actively involved in a project, following all 9 areas can seem daunting or even intimidating.

This practical article on project management essentials looks at what would be absolute minimum that you would need to deliver any sort of project successfully.

The six essential questions in project management.

To do project management successfully, you need to be able to answer the following 6 questions.

1. Why?

You need to understand (not necessarily document) why this project exists in the first place.

2. What?

What is the intended result (s) of this project? (This you definitely need to document.)

3. When?

The intended result is needed by a specific time for a reason. (Document when the result is needed by, and for what reason.)


4. How?

Is there some planning or thoughts in existence as to how the result should / must be achieved? (Document this.)

5. Who?

This is a multi-layered question as it includes: (Document)

  • Intended recipients – the people who needs to live with the consequences of the project.
  • Sponsor(s) – the people or organisation paying for the project.
  • Team – the people or organisation that will make it happen.
  • Stakeholders – everybody affected in any way with either the project or the consequences of the project.

6. How much?

Document how much the project will cost. Note that cost is one of the most important aspects of project management and is one of the success / fail criteria that will be applied to measure your project.

2. The rule of good, fast, cheap. You can't have it all.

In a blog post Good, fast, cheap: You can only pick two, Jennifer Kes Remington shares one of the basic rules of managing stakeholder expectations around projects.

You can't have it all! You cannot have a project that is good and fast and cheap.



  • You can pay more to have a project that is good quality and delivered fast.

  • You will have a slower delivery on project that is good and cheap.

  • But if you want a project that is done quickly and cheaply, the chances are it will be poor quality.

3. Document it.

There are at least 5 documents you need to provide as a project manager:

3.1 The Project Charter / Project Scope / Specification document

This is simply a written agreement between you and all the people involved that describes what has to be achieved.

3.2 The Project Plan / Schedule / Deliverables list with delivery dates.

This describes what has to be done by what time, by whom, costing how much. Usually this is written in the form of tasks or work packages. It is an attempt to guess what would happen in the future.

The bigger the project,
the more documentation, controls and management you will need to manage the beast!!!

3.3 The Billing / Payment agreement.

You have to ensure that you can get the funds required before you need it.

3.4 Pay-out mechanism.

You need to be able to pay those that render services and goods to your project.

3.5 Communication plan / strategy.

Communication and reporting are essential to the success of almost any project. Make sure you understand how you need to communicate to whom by when with what content.

4. Controlling the project.

Once you have done your project planning documentation, controlling the project becomes much easier.

All you have to do is make sure everybody does what they are supposed to do, communicate to those that require it and DELIVER BABY – DELIVER…

Anton van den Berg
Anton van den Berg
is a professional program and project management practitioner with several years of management experience on various levels and in different capacities in a range of industries and disciplines.

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