Melinda R. Biancuzzo
Project management is the application of generally recognized knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet project requirements and achieve project objectives. Whether you are working in-house, at a law firm, or you have hung out your own shingle, project management is an important element of the business of law. This article provides an overview of the project management basics.
Defining the Project
A project is a temporary endeavor (meaning it has a definite beginning and end, e.g., a trial begins with closing statements and ends with the judge’s decision) that creates a unique product, service, or result. Most legal matters are projects and should be managed accordingly. This is true even for legal matters that your organization might handle frequently. Consider, for example, an employee who claims she was wrongly terminated by her employer. The law may be the same, but the “uniqueness” may relate to the specific point in time implicated by the allegations, when the claim is raised, the employees involved, the lawyers who are handling the matter and their current bandwidth, or the resources of the company at that time.
Alternatively, consider the unique components of a proposed merger. The due diligence process may be identical to the process used on prior deals, but each deal is, nevertheless, unique because nothing exists within the same space and time. For example, “uniqueness” may include the specific point in time at which the acquisition will occur, the potential target, both companies’ financials, risk appetites, and the attorneys working on the matter and their current bandwidth.
There are five types of “players” on a project. First, there will be a Project Manager. This is the person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team responsible for achieving the project objectives. Second, there are the members of the Project Team who will assist the Project Manager in executing the project after it is initiated. Third, there is a Project Sponsor, who is responsible for providing resources and support for the project. The Sponsor is accountable for enabling the Project’s success. Fourth, there are the project’s customers or users who ultimately approve of or manage the project’s service or result. Finally, there are Stakeholders…
- to define key players and understanding the roles of the five types of “players” on a project.
- to implement a Project Management Framework that takes you through the entire project lifecycle, from initiating to planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, through to closing.
- the key knowledge areas that you need to plan for and manage, to avoid rework, increases costs, schedule delays or low customer satisfaction
- what a successful project management plan looks like, including which documents you should include as part of it.