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From Plan to Action

Watch Professor Yael Grushka-Cockaybe explain how to move from the planning stage to the execution stage in the Project Life-Cycle.
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Let’s remind ourselves of the steps we took to plan a project. Specifically, let’s walk through an example. Do you remember the Lumi juice example? In this project we were planning how we’re going to get a new product, a brand new, cold pressed, high pressure processed, organic juice from a manufacturing state all the way to be on the shelves in a retailer’s store. We start the project with a blank facility, and we acquire the equipment. We develop the recipes, and we go through the certification in order to deliver an organic product at the end of the day. As part of the planning of this project, we sat down, and we scoped it out.
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We came up with a complicated plan that offered us the entire set of dependencies between the different tasks associated with the project. We were able to look at the network diagram and identify our critical path. With that in mind, we could focus on the subset of tasks that will be crucial for us as we walk through the project and which will be our central attention, our critical tasks. These will guarantee that if we execute these tasks on time, we will complete the project on time, as we expect.
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In this case, our attention was focused on the finance steps, and some steps associated with the high technology, the new piece of equipment that we were going to use for the high pressure processing. So what’s the next step? What does our team do? How do they start actually executing the project? Well, looking at the critical path here, we see that they’re going to start by leasing the machine. They picked up the phone, and they started. There we go. We’re on a roll. The project is ongoing already. In the Lumi project, it was a small team. They could afford to dive right into it.
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But in many cases, we may want to pause and make sure that we’re set out for a proper smooth execution. And so in the lifecycle of a project, and focusing on the execution stage, we tend to think about the following dimensions. How during the execution are we going to monitor our progress? How will we communicate amongst the team and outside externally to the other stakeholders? Who will be doing the reporting? How will we correct and take action when something isn’t progressing as planned. Here are some questions that will help us answer, or help us think about, proactively think about the execution of our project to ensure or to increase the chances of a smooth execution.
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As we think about the execution, we think about monitoring. How will the monitoring be done? Will it be physical or virtual? Is our project manager in the same location as the teams? Do they work together in such a way that they can actually view the work? Or perhaps is a virtual system for collaborative platform going to be used. And how often should we be looking at it? Are we going to look at our system every day and expect updates to be made in real time? Or are we going to be looking at it on a weekly basis or bi-weekly basis? Is there a central project management office?
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Does that office aggregate information from multiple projects in an organization, and do they share the same resources? Does the project manager get support from that office and have others on his team who can help him work through any problems that come up? What information will actually be monitored? Are we monitoring time? Are we monitoring the actual costs? And how are we going to be monitoring functionality of the product as we ex, execute and develop the product? In terms of reporting and collecting the information, this is a not a trivial step. How often are we expecting updates reports? Are we expecting our team to call us everyday and to tell us how, how they’re doing?
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Are we scheduling a weekly meeting to talk about the execution and the progression of the project? Who is going to be in charge of these meetings? And who is going to attend them? Are only the individuals associated with the tasks going to show up? Or are all the stakeholders or related parties going to show up in order to share and learn from the execution of our project. Once we’ve collected the information and the reporting has been done, then what? How do we correct action if something has gone wrong? If a red flag is raised and we are behind schedule, what do we do? So it is important to identify what sort of decisions will be made.
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Do we have some flexibility in terms of the scope? And who can make the call on reducing the scope? Who has the ability to hire additional personnel or to outsource and to seek an expert to come and help us solve a problem? And assuming that we have reached a conclusion that we need to take action, and we’ve taken a corrective action and gone out and found an expert to help us. How will we communicate to the rest of the team where we’re heading from here? How will updates be communicated in terms of change of directions and an alternative path that we’re all going to have to follow from this point onwards?
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These are the types of questions that are on our mind as we work through the execution, as we start the execution, and throughout the entire execution of the project. And we will see several different ways in which this can be done.

In this video, listen as Professor Yael Grushka- Cockayne explains the different types of questions that need be considered and addressed as you work through the execution of a project. As you watch the video reflect on some of your experiences executing a project. Then proceed to the next discussion question to share some of your challenges and recommendations in executing a plan.

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Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management

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