Project Management 6 steps:
Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Control, and Closure.
Launching the Project
Step 1: Identify the project. This isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. Suppose, for instance, you are an office manager and you have been instructed to set up a satellite office in a neighboring town. When presented with such a broad and general assignment, you need to break it down into its major parts before you can have a clear idea of what the project involves. In this case, you would need to address such issues as the office size (e.g., number of lanes), services to be offered, staffing (new or existing staff) and office hours.
Step 2: Determine the desired outcome(s). When you are put in charge of a project, it’s important that you and your supervising physicians sit down together and come to an understanding of the project’s goals. Without that meeting of minds, you might be driving the project toward one “finish line” while the physician is waiting for you to cross another. It is therefore crucial that the person you report to agrees to specific criteria for the project’s completion.
Step 3: Delineate each of the project’s component tasks. You need to delineate in thorough detail what’s involved in the project. In setting up a satellite office, the major tasks might include negotiating the lease, hiring an architect, putting the plans out to bid, getting a contractor, ordering furniture, ordering communication equipment, ordering medical equipment, hiring staff, training staff, marketing the new office and so on.
Step 4: Identify the players. After breaking the project down into its component tasks, you need to identify who has, or will have, responsibility for each of those tasks. Furthermore, these responsibilities should be clearly outlined so that the project’s participants understand which person is responsible for which task.
Identify who the players are within the practice. These may include doctors, the IT manager, the clinic manager, billers and other members of staff. And remember that when somebody is given responsibility for a task, they must also be given the authority to get that task done.
Identify any “project killers.” Is there anyone in the organization who can kill the project or disrupt its timetable? It is very important that you identify and neutralize any such individuals as early as possible.
Identify the external players. How do you maintain control of people who are outside your practice? After all, an idle architect or inattentive attorney could doom your project. One approach is to make sure that contracts are performance-based. These might offer rewards when tasks are done on a timely or early basis and penalties for non- or late-performance.
And suppose, for instance, there is one individual at a firm of attorneys whom you particularly want to work with—perhaps Perry Mason, Esq., provided great service when you set up your last satellite office—then specify that you want him again this time around.
You may have less leverage with other external players, such as the Medicare intermediary, but you still need to identify key individuals and cultivate relationships with them. So when you need provider numbers for your new office, you’ll know which clerk can ensure your application is on the top of the file rather than at the bottom.
Step 5: Determine a time line (or staged time lines) for each project component. The project’s major components can be broken down into stages, and each of those stages might have its own segmented time frame. A Gantt chart is a useful tool for keeping track of these time frames. It shows how long each task should take, but it also shows which tasks can be done at the same time and which must be done sequentially. For instance, you can hire an architect while you’re still negotiating the lease, but the architect can’t start work on the drawings until he or she is hired. And if a particular task takes longer than planned, this chart shows whether that delay will effect the time frame of other tasks.
Keeping the Project on Track
Step 6: Review, revise and reallocate. Run through these three “Rs” on an ongoing basis. Review the status of each project component relative to that component’s completion date. If a particular project component is ahead of or behind schedule, take a look at your Gantt chart and revise the start and completion dates of other components accordingly. In reviewing the project, you may find that you need to reallocate resources, whether that’s cash or people.
Keep everybody informed. With any major project, there will inevitably be changes—for instance, the start date for one project component might be pushed back or the responsibility for completing another might be reassigned. This makes it critical that all the project’s players are kept up to date. Do this by scheduling periodic meetings. These should include everybody who is involved with the project components that will be under discussion. If, for instance, a project component relates to billing, your billers may have great ideas about what may be helpful or necessary for the success of that task.
Provide direction. As the project leader, you need to provide direction to all the project’s players. Make sure they know what steps have been completed and what needs to be done next. And have them confirm to you that they understand what you’re telling them, otherwise you might not find out about a misunderstanding until deadlines have been missed and resources wasted. It is also important that everything is documented (though this documentation needn’t be lengthy).