Project Management for Safety Professionals Part 1

I spent over 20 years as a safety professional. During that time, I managed several projects. I received one 40-hour class on project management that was supposed to have provided all the information I needed to manage the projects effectively. I can tell you that it did not provide all the knowledge I needed. Unfortunately, I did not know that until years later. I left safety in 2007 and spent the last nine years of my career with the government managing projects and programs full time. I also took a lot more training in project management and earned the highly regarded Project Management Professional certification.

Over time I saw many projects managed properly. However, I also saw many projects that were not managed properly. These poorly managed projects failed, wasting money and time.

One of the first things I found out was that it is paramount to have procedures in place to standardize the project management processes. Right after that, I determined that these standards can only be adopted if personnel involved in projects are properly trained and fully understand their roles and responsibilities.

There is a single source for project management procedures and standards that I use consistently. The Project Management Institute developed the Project Management Body of Knowledge®. This is more commonly known as the PMBoK®.

To manage projects properly and get the desired results, companies must adapt the PMBoK for their use, train workers appropriately, and hold workers accountable.

Most projects are run using a waterfall method. This approach uses the following steps to complete a project:

  • Develop a scope.
  • Pull project team together.
  • Develop a plan to meet scope.
  • Identify the budget to meet scope.
  • Execute plan.
  • Check to ensure scope is met.
  • Do rework as necessary.
  • Hand over scope result to the customer.

Each step in the process occurs, and the steps in sequence resemble a waterfall.

Organizations like the Project Management Institute use this method as the primary means of completing projects. You can find out more about this method at http://www.pmi.org/.

Agile project management is an umbrella approach that covers agile methods that were developed to support information technology projects. The Agile method is very simple. The Product Owner identifies the steps needed to develop a new product. From that list, a team is put together that identifies a few of the steps and completes those in a short period called a sprint. The steps will culminate in a shippable product like a new version of the software or a new application for a smartphone. The steps are demonstrated to the Product Owner, who either accepts them or asks for more work. The team then picks more steps from the Product Owner’s list and does another sprint. This continues until all steps have been done. The Agile method doesn’t wait until the end of the project to identify bugs or other issues with the result or product. You can find out more about Agile at http://agilemethodology.org/.

Prince2® is another method that was developed in the United Kingdom. The acronym Prince2® stands for Projects in Controlled Environments. You can get more information about Prince2® at https://www.axelos.com/best-practice-solutions/prince2.

Please note that I have oversimplified these methods and encourage you to go to the websites for additional information. The rest of these blog posts will highlight the waterfall method, which I recommend using in safety projects.

Let us start with a couple of definitions. A project is a work that is done once with a definite beginning and end dates. It is not continuing work. A program is a collection of projects that are in the same general area. Each project has a sponsor that provides the resources needed by the project and appoints the project manager. A project team can consist of one or more people each working in their specialty. People are not permanently assigned to the project team. When the project is complete, the team member returns to their permanent jobs.

Projects are controlled by a triple constraint that includes scope, cost, and time. Imagine a triangle with each side labeled as the scope, time, or cost. One side cannot be changed without affecting at least one of the other constraints. The project manager is required to complete a project within these three parameters.

The project manager gets the requirements for the project from stakeholders, who are people affected by the project. The project manager then develops a list of work to be completed and allocates time and cost to each item on the list. Changes to the scope of a project must be made formally, and when changes to the scope are made, additional time and money are given to keep the project within the triple constraint.

The project manager provides periodic updates to the stakeholders and sponsor. The frequency of these updates is determined by the complexity of the project and the length of time given.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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