|Community Emergency Preparedness: A Manual for Managers and Policy-Makers (WHO, 1999, 141 p.)|
There are three major parts to project management: definition, planning, and implementation (1).
The project definition determines the projects aim and objectives as well as its scope, authority, and context. In addition to providing a brief outline to others of the projects intentions, the project definition gives a description of the project for those from whom funding may be sought. A project manager should be appointed to manage the project.
The aim is a statement explaining the projects purpose. This should be a single-sentence statement describing the desired end result or outcome. Objectives are what must be achieved in order to satisfy the aim - they are the tangible outputs of the project. The objectives of the project should be:
- achievable and realistic (within the constraints of the project);
- mandatory (if a specific objective is not achieved, then the aim has not been satisfied);
- measurable (evidence that the objective has been achieved can be gathered).
Scope concerns where and to whom and what the project applies - it describes the boundaries and context of the project. Determining an appropriate scope is crucial to the success of any management activity. If the scope is too broad, it is possible that the project will not be completed within the required time. If the scope is too loosely defined, it is possible to stray into areas and topics that are not directly related to the subject and that will not contribute to the project. Authorization will be required for the project aim, objectives, and particularly the scope.
To determine the authority for the project, the following questions may be asked.
· Under whose authority does the project fall?
· To whom does the project manager report?
· Who will ensure the projects implementation?
Context is crucial to planning and implementing an emergency preparedness programme. Before emergency planning and vulnerability assessment are carried out, it is necessary to:
- be familiar with the cultural background of the community;
- determine community attitudes to hazards and emergencies;
- identify local organizations with resources and expertise;
- analyse the political structure of the community and identify those who have power and influence.
The context of emergency preparedness is the real world within which the programme must function. If the programme is not adapted to this, it will fail.
A project manager for the emergency preparedness programme should be selected according to the following criteria:
- commitment to the projects success;
- knowledge of the communitys culture;
- emergency management knowledge and skills;
- management skills such as team-building, delegating, managing performance, managing others involvement, communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution;
- problem-solving and decision-making skills;
- project management skills.
Project planning is the process of sequencing tasks to achieve the project objectives and to ensure timely project completion and efficient use of resources. It involves determining tasks, assigning responsibilities, developing a timetable, and determining resource allocation and timing.
To determine tasks, the following steps can be taken:
· List the project tasks or steps.
· Determine the time required to complete each task.
· Identify the overall project starting date and project completion date if they have not already been determined.
· List the project tasks, and their starting and completion dates, in the order in which they need to be completed to meet the overall project completion date.
Responsibility for each task or group of tasks should be assigned to competent people. These people should communicate regularly during the performance of their tasks to ensure appropriate coordination. The timetable should take into account all the contributions and work required for the project and should thus be based on the project process and tasks. The timetable will partially determine the resource requirements by indicating the amount of work required, and, therefore, the cost. Resource requirements for the project means what is needed to get it done? The following should be listed:
- the expected outputs (some of which will be similar to the objectives);
- the things that need to be done (e.g. meetings, telephone calls, and travel);
- the inputs (resources) in terms of people, materials, time, and money.
The management of project implementation consists of project performance, monitoring, and control; and taking corrective action.
Project monitoring and control is the process of determining progress in accomplishing project objectives. Its purpose is to ensure that the project is implemented successfully and that problems and opportunities are responded to quickly. It also allows a quick return to the project plan if the project strays off schedule.
An effective project monitoring and control system depends on having a clear standard of performance and providing feedback on project performance so that effective action can be taken. Project monitoring and control systems are based on three fundamental steps:
- measuring the progress toward project objectives according to the project timetable;
- determining the cause of deviations in project progress;
- identifying corrective actions through the use of potential problem analysis.
1. Project management. Princeton, NJ, Kepner-Tregoe, 1987.