Project management is not new, in fact documented approaches to project management date back as far as 2570 B.C. – when the Egyptians built the great pyramids – and in 455 BC Nehemiah needed to manage scope, quality, and timelines to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in just 52 days! However, over the past 100 years, project management approaches and methodologies have been solidified and defined, providing project managers – like me- with the opportunity to choose and adapt the best methodologies for the task at hand – similar to choosing the best tool from a toolbox.
At BroadReach, we use project management methodologies throughout our businesses, to deliver services and products to our clients, each with its own customized set of “tools”. Our APACE program is among PEPFAR’s most extensive awards, so year on year we have to plan effectively to deliver on our promise to our funders and our duty to our clients – to save more lives.
There are two main approaches when it comes to managing a project. On the one end of the spectrum you have the Traditional (Waterfall) methodology, which is used in projects that are predictable with little change expected, e.g., building a house. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Agile model, which is an iterative approach. This means you build the product incrementally as you go towards the completion of the project. Furthermore, it includes uncertain projects which would have many unexpected changes, e.g., software development.
BroadReach Health Development draws elements from both Traditional and Agile methods within our APACE planning, although we lean towards the Traditional side. Projects are planned thoroughly at the start of the project and there is a medium degree of uncertainty. Examples of current projects include the building of APACE offices, the Workforce Wellness application implementation, the Filing Interns project, the amHealth messaging project, and the rollout of the DREAMS project.
In contrast to Health Development, Vantage Health Technologies develops software and solutions using a pure Agile approach. Software products are not developed in one go, from start to finish, rather software features are developed and presented to the client as portion-products and adjusted based on feedback. The rhythm of development follows short two-week cycles (called sprints) that include planning, development, and reviews. This allows for good short-term planning in high uncertainty projects.
Here are a few tips on becoming better at project management:
- Be bold, be enterprising and be your word.
Make sure you plan sufficiently and innovatively, knowing what the project needs to achieve. Understand who is involved (internal and external stakeholders), what available resources you have -including people that will contribute, and, very importantly, confirm by when the project must be concluded.
- Be a learner and be collaborative.
You are not the only one involved in the project, so don’t plan alone, don’t execute alone, and don’t celebrate success alone. Uplift, encourage and support your team. Admit when you make a mistake and remember, we are learners and we are collaborative, so don’t forget to ask for help. There are certified project managers within BroadReach who can always lend a guiding hand.
- And lastly, communicate, communicate, communicate.
The project may be on your mind all day, but be compassionate as your colleagues may forget, which is normal as we are all human and have many activities to focus on. Continuously remind team members of tasks and deliverables,and provide regular progress updates to relevant internal and external stakeholders.
If you want to take your skills to the next level, a career in project management can be pursued through intensive and short courses from tertiary institutions and many training organisations. The most well-known certification body is the Project Management Institute (PMI) which offers certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP). However, you can apply project management concepts in daily activities with some exposure to project management methodologies and with a bit of on-the-job coaching – you might even realise that you are already using some of the techniques! Applying project management to your work can assist you with organising, tracking, and executing work within a project by using your resources optimally. E.g., Conducting facility assessments for a Sub-district, increasing Index Testing in Phuthuma facilities, etc.
I hope this stirred your interest in the possibilities within the project management world. In the coming months I will work with other certified project managers at BroadReach to bring you more content on specific tools and techniques that may be helpful in your everyday work, including coaching and mentorship to those who are interested.
Like every deliverable in a project, this article was not completed in isolation. Thank you very much to my fellow BroadReachers for your support #WeAreCollaborative. Salma, Veni, Marina, Engela and Sarah.