In the 1990’s Project Management became one of the “buzzwords”; everyone was using it. My own experience from school was that tasks could be brought together and managed as though they were part of a business or industrial enterprise within a known timeframe and with specific resources. Today, Project Management (PM) has increased in significance as it becomes both a way to attract volunteers and a way to manage their involvement in action for social change.
At the workshop organized by VSO, I got to understand that PM includes key terms: such as accountability , responsibility, timelines, vision, strategic planning , objectives, operational plans , resource allocation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
This was all drawn from a presentation and slideshow by Kuwang Luzette of VSO Cameroon. She went further to say that ” You must understand the difference between a project and a program before you can be able to manage a project.”
A project is a short term activity that is temporary and targeted to make a short term impact with potentially long term consequences. While a program is made up of a series of projects that have short term and long term impact.
She proceeded by giving an overview of a project cycle which had 4 stages. Each stage has its own characteristic and requires specific knowledge and skills.
>Assessment/planning > implementation/ monitoring > Evaluation> Adaptation>
The PCM is the term given to the process of planning and managing projects, programs and organization. It insures that all aspects of the projects are considered.
After a short break she continued by saying that as a project manager your primary responsibility is to evaluate the degree to which your project has achieved its aim, objective and outcomes and generally evaluating efficiency relevance and sustainability of projects, programs and policy interventions. One of the ways of ensuring that a project facilitates learning, is by continuous evaluation, monitoring and assessment. Evaluation, as I understood it, has 3 possible purposes: accountability, improvement and learning.
She further explained the process of planning and evaluation:
1. Identifying the purpose and scope off the evaluation
2.Considering who should be involved and how (stakeholder involvement)
3. Identifying the indicators of achievement
4. Planning your information collection
5. Choosing the evaluation methods and techniques to be used
6. Identifying important logistical and resource considerations (time money people)
7. Analysing the outcome and information
8. Reporting on and communicating the project outcomes and learning
The part of the seminar which I enjoyed most was the group work. We were put in groups of 8 and asked to present a project, following the PM cycle to achieve the project and then write a report.
All groups presented their work and corrections were made.
During the presentation each member of the group gave his or her own experience in any project he or she had ever participated in.
And last on the program was lunch. Each participant ate to his or her satisfaction and it gave a forum for us to get to know each other better, exchange phone #s and addresses.
Overall, I concluded that PM with its emphasis on a structured approach to action will help to identify project values and management values which are essential to a successful outcome. The SMART techniques will also be useful in helping to clarify what I am/you are, really trying to achieve and how to achieve it . I wish that workshops like this could be held more often. It was really an interesting workshop.