After speaking at the Assist Conference Heather Dallas from Dallas Development has written a great follow up blog on her popular Project Management for Assistants session…

Taking on a project is a great way of raising your visibility and getting you the recognition you deserve.  You may want to volunteer to organise the office move, the Christmas party, run a training course for the other support staff or organise an event.  These are the 3 tools that will help you plan your project that are practical and easy-to-use.

Firstly the QTC Triangle. Ask your client or stakeholder, the person who asked you to take on the project, what are the primary parameters for the project, what are the secondary and what is most negotiable.  Is it quality, time or cost?  If the Christmas party date has already been published then time is the driver.  If the event you are organising is for high profile clients then quality would be the driver. If you are introducing a training course for colleagues on a shoestring budget, then cost will be the driver.  As the project proceeds, the drivers may well change.

Secondly use the Gap Analysis model. Let’s use the example of introducing a new marketing database.  Plan your outcome, what do you want the new system to look like, how many records, who will be the users, what system will you use?  Then identify where you are now with your current situation.  The bigger the gap the bigger the project and the more Resources you will need which is step 3.  Identify knowledge, others’ skills you can tap into, budget, time, external providers, etc.   You also need to identify the Constraints of the project i.e. current limitations.  That might be a limited timeframe, lack of information, lack of knowledge.  Lastly identify the risks, what potentially could go wrong.  The users cannot use the system, it might crash.  These sound negative but your role is to have a back-up or contingency in place.  Project managers say that projects can fail if a risk assessment isn’t done.

Finally the Dependency Sequencing model. Phase out your project milestones in columns for instance organising an event might be Phase 3 – 24 hours leading-up to the event and the event itself.  Phase 2 might be Plan the Logistics, Phase 1 might be Research and booking the venue.  Add a specific timeframe.  Then list all the tasks under each column for each phase.

You can then put them in order of what tasks is dependent on another task being completed.  You can allocate names to the tasks and tick them off when complete.  Clearly you may wish to use Microsoft Project or other software or simply a white board with post-it pads.

These tools are easy to use, practical and can be applied to your personal projects too. Here is a link to the slides from the Assist Conference.

This is a guest post from Heather Dallas. Heather has been passionate about helping PAs with their confidence, personal impact and developing their skills for 26 years. She started her career as a junior secretary then a PA at director level before joining Deloitte in London in 1985.  Heather spent ten years as a senior training manager and managed a team of fifteen people.  She left Deloitte in 2000 to set-up her own training and coaching business, Dallas Development Limited.

Heather facilitates programmes for management and PAs around the globe in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Europe and Malaysia.   She is a motivational public speaker and an insightful personal coach. She is a qualified MBTI Practioner, Belbin Team Roles Consultant, Strengths Deployment Inventory Consultant, NLP Master Practioner and Emotions & Behaviours at Work Practioner (Emotional Intelligence).

Practical Project Management


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