Are we the only nonprofit with a heart and mission that is bigger than our capacity to deliver? Sure, we do “more with less”—but isn’t that really because we don’t manage our time and resources in a SMART way? We convince ourselves we are doing good work, but are we making a difference? And how do we know? We need to get better at planning our projects and and measuring our impact! That’s why CCTV is so pleased with the results of the consultation we received from IBM Corporate Citizenship and Community Affairs to teach us about Project Management!
A team of IBM project and change management professionals came to CCTV last week to deliver a day-long workshop on the fundamentals of project planning. What we learned fit perfectly with our recent lessons on how to manage Collaborations and Outcomes–thanks to the great workshops offered by Common Good Vermont.
Marian Lawlor (of IBM in Essex Junction) put the grant together for us—and is interested in working with other nonprofits in Vermont. Consultants Rachel Ciliberti (experienced project management from Florida) and Jessie Blank (expert in organizational change based in Chicago) travel across the world to help IBM teams manage their projects and deliver their products on time.
Why not apply these principles to the nonprofit sector? Here’s what we learned:
First, every project operates within the “triple constraints” of Resources (Money and Effort), Scope (What is to be Achieved) and Schedule (Time Required to Complete).
Second, you need to get specific about who is going to be the Project Manager. Their job is to make sure the project is completed “within the constraints”. That person monitors the project and assures a certain level of quality (agreed upon at the “get go:).
Next, there are three-dozen steps to professional project management (you can learn all about it a the Association of Project Management) but they boiled it down for us at CCTV and focused on five process groups (or phases):
- Initiate – Define the scope of the project (called the Project Charter), assess the risks, come to agreement with your work group.
- Plan – Define the objectives (or Deliverables), get specific about who is going to do what, how much time it will take, when it will be completed, put them in the right order so the process works smoothly, map out your key stakeholders and spell out your communications plan.
- Execute – Put the plan into action, integrate the resources you need, be ready for risks when they rise up and handle the issues that inevitably arise within any group trying to “get ‘er done”.
- Monitor & Control – Measure your progress with check-points and milestones to “identify variances” and take corrective action (also known as Change Control).
- Close – Bring project to an orderly end and gain formal acceptance of the result.
After learning the basics, CCTV’s staff broke into two teams to plan for Channel 17 Election Coverage and Common Good Vermont Sponsorships. As we worked, so many “light bulbs” went off about how why its important to agree on the “scope” up front, the benefit of assigning one key person to manage and monitor the project, the value of estimating the amount of time that projects takes and the vital importance of involving all staff/ team members. This led to discussions about how to use this discipline to coordinate the work-load of our program areas and to tie our deliverables back to the larger question: what difference do we make?
The benefits of this daylong consult promises to make a big difference at CCTV as we move into the future. Very special thanks to our “guides” Rachel, Jessie and Marian Lawlor and Marie Houghton of the IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs team. To find out how your organization can benefit from IBM consultancies for nonprofits on a number of topics, review the opportunities here.
For more useful resources check out the Common Good Vermont website on the topic of “management”, we’ve bookmarked helpful links here: http://commongoodvt.org/entry/index/category/management
P.S. – Share what you know! Save your favorite project management links on http://delicious.com and be sure to use the tags npvt and projectmanagement – They’ll be pulled into the Common Good Vermont website and others will learn from YOU!