In his book, The One-Page Project Manager, author Clark A. Campbell shares a technique he developed as a project manager for O.C. Tanner, a 2,000-person company that specializes in employee recognition products. The “one page” referenced in the title of the book is a freely available template that, when filled out and maintained, provides an efficient tool for communicating project status to stakeholders, especially upper management.
In this excerpt from his book, Campbell explains components of his one-page project management tool. You’ll find a link to the template at the end of the article.
The One-Page Project Manager helps everyone avoid surprises, and when managing a project, you don’t want surprises. Let’s now look at the One-Page Project Manager in the figure below.
The One-Page Project Manager.
Copyright O.C. Tanner 2007.
Toward the bottom, left-hand corner, a rectangle is divided into five, unequal, pie-like pieces. This rectangle represents the heart of the One-Page Project Manager. We call it the Matrix — the point where all the elements of the One-Page Project Manager — and project management in general — come together. As you become familiar with the One-Page Project Manager, you’ll see that its various elements all flow to this rectangle.
In the top part of the Matrix is a triangle labeled Major Tasks. Above that is a column listing the project’s major tasks. How many tasks you list depends on the project and how detailed you want to be. But be aware that too many tasks will minimize the effectiveness of the One-Page Project Manager. It could become clumsy and overwhelming. Plus, you have only one page for everything. Include too many tasks, and you won’t fit everything on the one page.
In the example shown here, we have room for 30 major project tasks. Even for very large projects, this is usually enough. With smaller projects, show fewer tasks.
Keep in mind that behind each of these tasks, you could have another One-Page Project Manager or Microsoft Project or P3 Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) charts. Let’s say you are constructing a building and the One-Page Project Manager with the topmost view, the one seen by highest management, has as a major task the construction of the foundation. On one line of the form, you could write, “constructing foundation.” That task could then have its own One-Page Project Manager that covers the major tasks involved with constructing the foundation, such as digging the hole, constructing supports, and pouring the concrete. And each of these could have its own One-Page Project Manager, and so forth. Also, Subjective Tasks (lines A through E) are for reporting qualitative performance. More is said about this in a later chapter.
Projects are all about getting things done, about turning activities into results. Ultimately, projects are not about activities, but about successfully completing tasks.
Tasks are really the centerpiece of any project — the heart of the One-Page Project Manager. Constructing a building involves many different tasks, and ideally, they are done correctly, on time and on budget.
Moving clockwise around the Matrix, we next come to the section labeled Target Dates — the dates the tasks are to be completed, and the intermediary dates for each step that needs to be completed before the entire task is done. This section provides the timeline for each task.
Budget versus Cost
We use a simple bar chart in the open box to the right of the cost triangle. Usually two bars extend across the page, one for the capital budget and one for the expense budget. Costs are plotted as the project progresses.
Summary and Forecast
Write notes about aspects of the project not covered by the other sectors of the One-Page Project Manager in the Summary.
Key Concept: The space available for the Summary is limited. That’s by design. It forces the project manager to think and write succinctly. Brevity communicates. Never reiterate in the Summary and Forecast what is already illustrated on the One-Page Project Manager. Focus on explaining deviations from plan, together with a forecast of remedies. Knowing what you now know, give management your newly informed view of how the project will appear by the completion of the next two or three time boxes.
Objectives need to be measurable and verifiable. They are the desired results of the project, and, as you can see on the One-Page Project Manager, objectives are tied to the various tasks. Not every objective is tied to every task.
For example, a construction project might have as its objectives for each task: Building Complete, Systems Operational, and People Deployed. One task would be: Columns and beams erected. That could be tied to the objective of Building Complete. Another task could be the installation of certain software. The objective tied to this would be System Operational. The task of software user training is tied to People Deployed.
Purchase the book, The One-Page Project Manager
Download the template for the One-Page Project Manager here: