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Entrepreneurial Capacity-building for Sport

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The essentials of Project Management for aspiring sport entrepreneurs
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Keywords

Project Management; Management; Project; Collaboration; Communication




Objectives/Goals

After familiarising with this training module, learners will be able to:
• Understand project management in its essentials
• Define roles and responsibilities of project managers
• Identify activities and tasks that are instrumental per each implementation cycle
• Carry out effective communication strategies, within and external to project team
• Manage people more carefully
• Being much more proficient in the discipline of PM
• Breakdown your workload in a coherent PM’s approach

Defining Project Management

Starting from the beginning: A definition of Project Management (PM)Click to read  

In the context of the first unit, we wish to introduce learners to the “concept” of PM starting from its definition and by highlighting the founding elements of a project.

According to the APM, Association for Project Management , Project Management is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives. Project Management is a mentality that strives for EFFICACY and EFFECTIVENESS: seeking for a business idea, setting up a business, launching a marketing campaign, target and identify groups of interest for your brand, can be all considered as stand-alone projects…as scheduling a work-out session. That is why a Project Management’s approached should be applying transversally to all typical entrepreneurial functions.

We mentioned the fact that there are some relevant differences between Project Management and Management of other traditional business functions such as communication, HR, audit, etc. This are resumed by the table below:

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

MANAGEMENT

  • Final deliverable
  • Finite cycle
  • Unique and Innovative
  • Cross-functional
  • Project-specific resources
  • Scope: precise and well-defined
  • Ongoing activities
  • Continuous input-output flow
  • Routine tasks
  • Mono-disciplinary
  • General budget resources
  • Scope: broader and less delimited

 

In compliance with the same definition from APA, Projects have final deliverables that are constrained to a finite timescale and budget. However, as we mentioned already, most of common business tasks can be addressed relying on a “project management approach” as they can be interpreted as sub projects’ on their own.

On their hand, project managers deal with a vast series of activities and responsibilities, that greatly empower their skills, competences and expertise. Project managers are in charge of project’ s implementation of course, but also communication, HR and finance, their role is very chameleon as their interface with a large number of interests – coming both from within and outside the organisation. In small business, this role is typically played by the entrepreneurs him/herself.

Defining pillars of Project ManagementClick to read  

We include:

- TIME
- RESULTS
- RESOURCES

 

The relation between the three is highly interrelated: any potential change – in quality and in quantity – impacting one the three will inevitably affect all of the others, for the better or for the worst.

When time, results and resources are all aligned to a coherent design, project managers / entrepreneurs are able to delivers results that are:

- in compliance to internal schedule
- in compliance to performance’s parameters
- in compliance to allocated budget and financial resources
- in compliance to quality standards and satisfactory for targets
- in compliance to sustainability and impacts standards
- (+ empowering and motivating)

 

Project’s lifecycle

The Project IdeaClick to read  

This specific stage of a project’s lifecycle pertains to the identification of specific needs / opportunities that might be addressed through a tailor-made project. Project managers (and entrepreneurs) take this moment to reflect on: what they plan to achieved through the implementation of projects, and the focus of interest in terms of desired results and expected outcomes.

 

This typically begins with two specific tasks:

  1. Stakeholder identification

An in-depth mapping of “groups of interests” that might be impacted or might have an impact on the project. In other words, project managers identify the targets of the project based on their potential influence and/or interest on the project.

In literature and in practice, there are countless ways in which this activity can be performed. In the context of this training material, we recommend readers and users to rely on the POWER / INTEREST matrix (Johnson and Scholes; 1999).

Potential Stakeholders and groups of interest of relevence for the development of the project are clustered into a 2x2 matrix based on: the level of impact that the project can have on them and the interest they might have in its implementation; the level of influence they can have on its development.

 

STKH at high impact and high interest are KEY PLAYERS → to manage closely

STKH at low impact and high interest are MAVENS → to leverage on

STKH at high impact and low interest are PASSIVE PASSENGERS → to keep satisfied

STKH low impact and low interest are DISTANT COUSINS → to monitor

 

  1. Consolidation of the Statement of Work (SOW)

The SoW is a very detailed document listing all defining elements of the project in its content and structure, and before its official launch. This document is intended to be the so defined project proposal: entrepreneurs and project managers rely on it to pinpoint on paper the very essential of the project, and eventually to present the project idea to investors.

The typical elements disclosed by the SoW are:

  • Background and needs/opportunities assessment
  • Scale and scope of the project
  • Geographical location
  • Timeline
  • Qualitative and quantitative results
  • Qualitative and quantitative outcomes
  • Involved staff/organisation
  • Budget control and audit
  • Quality Assurance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Risk Management
  • Impact assessment (environment, culture, socio-economic inclusion, etc.)
The planning stage: resources and operational requirementsClick to read  

This is really about qualifying and quantifying all resources (financial, technological and human) that are needed to allow for a smooth implementation of the project.

In this stage, project managers invest great time and efforts in:

  • Set concrete tasks and actions to achieved the expected results
  • Refine the internal timeline for the conclusion/finalisation of planned activities
  • Estimate the amount and nature of resources that they need to progress with the implementation and development of the project
  • Anticipate possible risk and design consistent countermeasures (i.e., plan B)
  • Design an internal/external communication plan, detailing means and strategies for communication

 

All of the above, and specific technicalities, will be resumed by the Project Management Plan, the formal document providing for specific guidelines on who does what, due when.

Project managers follows a Work Packages breakdown approach:

  1. Define the specific work package (i.e., preparation of website)
  2. Breakdown each work package in sub tasks (i.e., register the domain, set-up image and visuals, etc.)
  3. Assign to each task a specific result, a.k.a. output (i.e., media channel)

 

Keep in mind that outputs lead typically to:

  • Outcome, the impacts of that result: i.e., online visibility
  • Deliverables, tangible and concrete: i.e., final website

Consider that Work Packages and following Tasks should conclude within a given time period. These periods should be considered based on the overall workload required for the implementation and development of that given WP/Task. The greater the workload, the greater the amount of resources needed to comply with the activities – HUMAN CAPITAL, TIME, FINANCES.

Executing and monitoring the quality of the projectClick to read  

Before moving into the actual launch of activities, it is essential for project managers to:

  • perform a final round of review of planned activities – the overall plan might need few corrections/adjustments based on new scenarios not originally foreseen or emerged after the initial planning phase
  • select and deploy the resources they need – by resources, we refer to financial, technologies, infrastructural and human (i.e., competences, know-how, capabilities, technical skills, etc.)

 

While implementing project’s tasks that are aimed to the roll-out of actual results, project managers conduct a strict monitoring and evaluation process which sustains Quality Assurance-related priorities. Qualitative and quantitative KPIs as included in the Project Management Plan are benchmarked with the with the outputs concretely achieved.

Any mismatch is promptly tackled with corrective measures so as to realign team’s performance to the desired standards.

 

The evaluation process can assume two forms:

  • Formative – an on-going and “daily based” evaluation process, typically performed by senior staff members, leaders of tasks, involved members.
  • Summative – upon conclusion of key projects’ milestones so as to better reflect on lessons learned and takeaways from the previous implementation cycle.

 

Milestones represent major achievement of your project – typically, the formal conclusion/finalisation of a WP.

There can be (and should there be) more than one milestone in a project, use this moment to take a break so as to:

  • Reflect on what achieved up to this moment – quality and quantity
  • Plan and deploy a brief communication strategy to valorise the result(s)
  • Scale up your learning curve – take stock of lessons learnt
  • Monitor the well-being of your team – stress is a sneaky enemy, its effects manifest over time…

 

Transversal activities: what is common to all projectsClick to read  

COMMUNICATION

With the Communication Work Package, we typically refer communication activities supporting collaboration dynamics – within and external to project’s team or the organisation:

  • People management and HR
  • Coordination among project’s members
  • STKHs management – identification and engagement
  • Outreach and visibility of project’s results
  • Valorisation of good practices, successes and achievements

 

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

With the Project Management Work Package, we typically refer to activities that are instrumental to assure for a smooth project’s implementation – both in quality and in time:

  • Quality Assurance: Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Risk Management: Identification > Evaluation > Design of Countermeasure
  • Impact Assessment
  • Financial Management
  • Budget Control

 

Tips for financial management

In financial management, you reach EFFECTIVESS – finalisation of results in compliance to budget constraints – when you manage to combine ECONOMY and EFFICIENCY:

  • Economy:

Right inputs at the lowest cost

  • Efficiency:

Right outputs at the lowest efforts

Bringing the project to conclusionClick to read  

One of the things distinguishing a project from a “process” is the fact that the first one has a clear and well-specified END and START date, compared to general business processes which instead are continuous over time.

Once all activities are finalised and all expected results and finally accomplished, it is extremely relevant for the project team to go back to the implementation cycle seeking for relevant best practices that helped the team in overcoming challenges, upgrade their skills and competences.

This internal exercise will turn extremely useful for future projects and initiatives even not necessarily related, by scale and scope, to the one just concluded.

Team members should experience the validation and valorisation of their individual efforts and contributions, which in turn boost their morale, confidence and self-reliability. On the other hand, “human mistakes” should be dealt as an opportunity for capacity building, empowerment and upskilling.

Extra content: avoiding traps

Poor planning and/or implementation of horizontal WPs leads to very poor results. Regardless of the context:

  • Entropy and performance’s dysfunctions
  • Lack of clear vision on what to do / how to do it
  • Disengagement (i.e., disinterest) of key support individuals
  • Severe unpreparedness to unexpected changes in plans → delays
  • Loss of control on finances and/or timing
  • Poor satisfaction of involved parties (i.e., beneficiaries of the project)
  • Barriers to internal communication → prejudice to information flow

 

 Project Management should always be compliant with few but fundamental rules:

  • Avoid redundancies: Keep It Simple & Smart
  • Set objectives that are challenging and motivating, realistic and engaging
  • Be extremely specific and straightforward: use plain language
  • Put others in the condition to understand…not to interpret
  • Don’t wait to address the red alarms


Bibliography

To know more about Project Management, please consider consulting online resources made available by:




Related training material



Related Glossary

  • Project Management:
    Project management is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives.
  • Statement of Work:
    Formal document drafted during completion of project’s ideas that outlines the planned activities and expected results. The document discloses background and needs / opportunities addressed by the project, budgets and resources absorbed by implementation tasks, project’s team, impact and monitoring means.
  • Project Management Plan:
    Formal document drafted immediately before project’s launch. The PMP refines activities included in the SoW and provides for clear guidance on how task should be implemented, by who, due when.
  • Stakeholder:
    Any organisation, institution and/or physical person that is impacted by or can have an impact on project’s development and success
  • KPI:
    Also known as Key Performance Indicator, a KPI is a control variable to which managers rely on to benchmark current VS planned results (i.e., numbers of STKH reached by communication activities during the first four months of implementation).
  • See all terms


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