Project Management for Instructional Designers – Part III

Project Plan

The project plan is the document that outlines the parameters of the project. Throughout its multiple pages, budget, timelines, resources, communications, risk, changes, and scope are detailed, and a plan for managing them is explained. While you might be inclined to call the plan the project’s bible, there is one key aspect of the plan that differs: the project plan can change over time. Budgets get changed or voted down. Vendors raise or cut prices, or go out of business. Organizational culture shifts in a different direction – or digs in its heels to oppose the project at every turn. The project plan includes a change management plan – the person responsible for signing off on changes to the project. By having this [dynamic] document in place before executing and implementing the project, the PM can save the innumerable headaches that come with creating more project documentation while the project is underway.

Rita Mulcahy, featured in this video, makes a great analogy. The project plan is like an athlete visualizing their performance – after planning in your head, the actual execution becomes faster and easier.

I don’t think we, as teachers, recognize how often we behave like project managers. Each time we teach a new lesson, each time a surprise schedule change forces us to alter our plans, we think about what needs to get done, why, and by when. We then make a plan to get to that goal. Like Rita mentions in the video, we don’t need to have a multi-page document, we do, however, need to think it through.

Communications

As cliche as is sounds, communication really is key to a project’s success. Effective communication not only keeps everyone (vendors, sponsors, more senior executives/management, team members, etc.) “in the loop,” but can actually increase buy-in and support for the project (Charvat, 2002). In order to have effective communication throughout a project, you need to plan for it. A communication plan includes three main categories: who receives the communications, what type of information they receive, and how the content will be delivered (channel) (Cox, 2010). Included in any good communication plan will also be a schedule – how often communications will be sent to each stakeholder group. (Image courtesy of businessperform.com)

As part of this course, I’m wrestling with the issue of communicating with parents, not only to convey information, but to get their buy-in on a project. Teachers and administrators – what have you found to be the best ways of reaching out to parents for this purpose?

Charvat, J. (2002). Project communications: A plan for getting your project going. Retrieved from http://www.techrepublic.com/article/project-communications-a-plan-for-getting-your-message-across/1061894/

Cox, D.M.T. (2010). Project manegement skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. New York, NY: iUniverse, Inc.

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