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Authorizing Project Work

In any project, tasks can't be assigned all at once; there must be some logical approach to completing the work. For example, you can't install and configure Exchange 2000 Server until Active Directory has been installed and configured. Everything must be done decently and in order. That's where the Project Manager's organizational skills are paramount. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Project Network Diagram (PND), and our Operations Plans will guide the team through the project somewhat, but the PM needs to be able to record the completed tasks, document their completeness, and then alert the owners of the successor tasks to begin their work.

Now it may seem logical for Susan to just tell Bob she's done with her task and then Bob can start his. The trouble, however, is that you may need to review Susan's work, or you must check for quality, or Bob's away on vacation, or Susan forgets, or yada yada yada. Don't leave projects to chance. Within your plan, create a method of reporting task completeness to launch the next task in the timeline.

So how do I do this? For the most part, I use Microsoft Project, but I still like simple solutions. I don't over-engineer. What I do is create a poster size PND. When tasks are reported as complete, I get out my green marker and color in the tasks to represent where we are in the project. Now I tell Bob he's ready to move forward. If Bob misses the message, or if other team members want to see the status of the project, a quick glance at the PND poster keeps them on track. It's not magic, fancy, or difficult, but it works.

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