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Simplifying Project Management – a Couple of Methods

Have you been given a project to manage?

Do you get the feeling you need a project manager just to decide which project management method to use?

Well let’s try and simplify things for you. We’ll dispel your fears and help you successfully manage your project.

Despite what you may think there are only three elements to manage in any project:

  • People
  • Resources (money, materials, equipment, etc)
  • Time

Before we go too far, you’ll find project management has a language of its own too.

Here are some terms you may come across:

  • WBS - Work Breakdown Structure: Breaking down a project into small steps or chunks.
  • Gantt chart: A visual method, often using Excel, to create a timeline for steps and tasks.
  • PERT: Programme Evaluation and Review Technique is a method to ensure the project runs on time.
  • CPM - Critical Path Method: Creating a list of all tasks, how long they’ll take, and where they fit overall.
  • Waterfall: Imagine a waterfall with water cascading over different ledges. Each stage depends on the completion of the previous one. The project cascades but if there’s a blockage it will hold up the rest.
  • Kanban: Developed by a Toyota engineer for manufacturing processes. A visual waterfall with cards or post-it notes on a whiteboard.

It’s really quite simple!

Managing a project is as simple as getting from A to B. From where you Are to where you want to Be. And working out the steps in between the two places.

Just like setting a route for a journey on your satnav. You need to know where you are starting from and where you need to get to. Everything in between is just steps on the way.

How does it work?

Think of a busy restaurant kitchen and the two opposing sayings:

  • Too many cooks spoil the broth! 
  • Many hands make light work! 

The difference is communication. 

Have you ever watched “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” with Chef Gordon Ramsay?

A dish may need input from several chefs. Each element requiring different preparation and cooking times. But, and this is the important bit, they must all arrive on the plate at the same time ready for serving up to the customer.

Properly prepared. Properly cooked. If one element is missing, you need to know as soon as possible.

If preparation of just one ingredient is delayed, you need to know as soon as it becomes apparent so you can make necessary adjustments.

It all must be there at the same time. This will only happen only if all chefs communicate. If everyone knows what is required of them. Exactly where they are in the process. 

Do you recall in the show the insistence on the response “Yes Chef” to ensure the message had been received and understood? This is what project management is all about.

Two Popular Methods

There are many methods you can use. Here are a couple of popular ones.


A traditional favourite. Popular in the public sector. A very structured method if that suits your way of working.

It stands for - PRojects IN Controlled Environments - and generally has 7 processes: 

  1. Starting up
  2. Initiating
  3. Directing
  4. Controlling
  5. Managing stage
  6. Managing product delivery 
  7. Closing

If you like structure, then this will work for you. It has a very structured process. 

Certain tasks and milestones have to be achieved throughout. Controlled Environments in the name means a very controlled way of working.

I have to declare that it is not my personal best way to work.


This, however, is probably my favourite! When I first came across Agile it was a refreshing discovery. 

The great thing about this method is you have greater engagement with everyone involved. Regular contact with all the key stakeholders. You never feel out on your own.

I found Agile most effective in generating solutions for many diverse needs. Agile started out as a methodology for software development. It comprised 12 principles.

Some of the key points being: 

  • Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery 
  • Solutions delivered frequently (weeks rather than months) 
  • Close, daily cooperation 
  • Projects built around motivated individuals 
  • Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location) 
  • Sustainable development at a constant pace 
  • Simplicity
  • Regular team reflection

But really, it’s a simple process:

  • Brainstorm
    • Requirements
    • What you want to achieve – getting from A to B
  • Design
    • Document – what’s needed
    • Prototype - solutions
  • Development Iterations
    • Demo to users
    • Feedback into the process
  • Quality Assurance 
    • User testing – check it works
    • Identify defects
    • Resolve bugs 
  • Deployment 
    • Minimum viable product (MVP)
    • Technical support 
  • Deliver to Client 

At this stage the project may be complete. If further requirements are identified, then these would be entered back into the cycle.


There are many project management methods available but they sometimes over-complicate what is needed.

In simple terms you need to:


  • Who is involved?
  • What is required?
  • What are the steps needed?


  • People
  • Resources
  • Time
  • Achieve success.
  • Be prepared to adapt

You’ve heard the old saying ‘keep it simple, keep it sweet’. Well, that’s a great motto to adopt with every project you manage.

Don’t overcomplicate. Don’t overthink. Don’t make mountains out of molehills!

Just get on and do it!

Author Bio | Keith Grinsted MBA FRSA

Born and bred in Essex (UK) and now living in Southend-on-Sea Keith has extensive experience across many sectors – private enterprise (startups, retail, and corporate), public sector (national and local govt), and third sector (Board Member and Trustee).

In the area of business turnarounds Keith has been referred to as a modern-day Sir John Harvey-Jones in the way he can look at a business and see opportunities the business owner has overlooked, or is simply unaware of

He is a freelance business writer having written eBooks under his own name for Business Expert Press in New York and a blog for Huffington Post UK, as well as ghost-writing for others.

For the past three years he has campaigned against loneliness and isolation through his Goodbye Lonely programme, having had a conversation on BBC TV with the late Captain Sir Tom Moore. He has been regularly interviewed on TV, Radio, and in national papers and magazines.

He is highlighting the wellbeing of remote / hybrid workers who are not being cared for by their employers to the level they require. He is a Mental health First Aider, a Wellbeing Champion, and has had suicide awareness training.

Through his life experiences Keith is passionate about the issues individuals face when they must start their careers over again and often, perhaps, reinvent who they are. Hence his award-winning LAUNCHPAD Programme helping those who are unemployed or facing redundancy get their career back on track.

  • Open University Business School Alumni Award for outstanding contribution to society
  • Investors in People Exceptional People Award for Community Engagement 

The single most important thing he works on is uncovering what it is they are passionate about. 

Keith believes that we are all capable of great things but we tend not to try new directions. Unless we release our emotions and uncover our passion, we will find setting a new course for the future very difficult. Keith strongly believes everyone should continue to learn and relate that learning to the work environment.

Keith is a great connector of people and has over 21,500 followers on LinkedIn and runs his Charity UK group with over 47,500 members. He is also Partnerships Director for Membership World.

January 2024

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