May 31, 2003 Program Summary
Secrets of Successful Project Management was the topic of a half-day Saturday workshop on May 31st designed for nonprofits, for-profits, and technical professionals. The event was co-sponsored by the San Luis Obispo chapter of the STC and the KCBXnet Nonprofit Resource Center.
to Initiating, Evaluating, and Managing Successful Projects
your goals, keeping on time and on budget, and prioritizing are among
many aspects of successful project management.
Thats the tip of the advice-iceberg offered by Dottie Natal (shown at left), whose company, Imagen Multimedia Inc. in Lompoc, handles a number of large federal projects plus projects for state and local agencies and corporate clients.
Dottie outlined a complete picture of project management at the half-day seminar. She presented her material in three parts to correspond to three essential aspects of project management: 1) Initiating a project, 2) evaluating processes and outcomes, and 3) managing the project life cycle.
Attendees represented several different sectors of the community and included:
Taking a best practices approach
Due to the vast scope of the project management subject matter, only highlights from each segment could be covered in the allotted time. Dottie therefore emphasized the following points:
As one example of a best practice, Dottie suggested that when youre estimating time and resources, and you know there is no way to complete the project in the amount of time allotted, propose what actually can be done. Offer compelling arguments. Dottie went on to explain, My clients like that I disagree, and when I tell them what they really want, indicating that it is very seldom that clients know what they want. Clients know the outcome, but not how to get there. Dottie cautioned that this approach works well for her and her clients, but could be less successful in other situations. Depending on the circumstances, acquiescing to client requests or proactively negotiating may be better options.
Planning and partnering are keys to success
Collaboration with partners and the use of project plans figure heavily into the 80/20 approach to project management.
to planning, a project plan is a coordinating tool and communication
device that helps you and your organization, team, clients, or contractors
define the crucial aspects of your project or program. (The handouts
included a sample project plan prepared for a hypothetical nonprofit
organization, which can be downloaded along with a template, below.)
regard to collaboration, if
you dont know what youre doing, get support,
Dottie said. Finding collaborators should be a routine consideration
when bidding on a contract or requesting funding for a program. For
example, Dotties company does ninety-five percent of its business
with businesses and governmental agencies along the beltway
in the Washington D.C. area. Many have their own language, including
abbreviations and acronyms. You have to be able to speak, and write,
in your clients language, or youll lose them, she advised.
Her prescription: If you don't know the lingo, collaborate with someone
You can find funding and projects in unusual places
in terms of project management for nonprofit agencies and organizations,
Dottie identified various sources of grants, indicating that there are
lots of ways to get money.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) as the gateway
to agencies that have funds set aside for grants.
All federal agencies have to include funds for grants in their budgets, she advised. There also are SBIR workshops in which nonprofit agencies can learn the process of obtaining grants. (To research this area directly, you can access the SBIR Gateway at http://www.zyn.com/sbir. It lists all the federal agencies Web sites and direct links to grant programs each offers.)
more about obtaining foundation grant and corporate funding, investigate
the offerings of co-sponsor KCBXnet.
Their events include classes for nonprofits on funding sources and a
variety of related subjects.
Initiating a project:
Evaluating processes and outcomes:
Managing the project life cycle:
Photography by Mary Meyer.
Secrets of Successful Project Management
|Date:||Saturday morning, May 31, 2003, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.|
Dottie Natal, founder of Imagen Multimedia Inc. in Lompoc, and a nationally recognized expert and developer of multimedia projects for academia, government, and nonprofit organizations. For more information, see Background, below.
Secrets of Successful Project Management, designed for nonprofits, for-profits, and technical professionals, covered the nuts and bolts of managing the three important project phases listed below. The workshop focused on high-level considerations of general interest and relevance rather than on detailed technical issues.
Initiating the project. This segment covered funding sources and project
planning, including how to create a competitive edge when seeking funding
for a program or responding to an opportunity with a proposal.
Part 2: Evaluating processes and outcomes. Evaluation processes actually start with the planning phase, especially when it's important to build the mechanisms into the contract or proposal. This segment covered how to keep the customer or funding source happy during the project, how to evaluate project processes and outcomes, and what to do when a third-party evaluation is required.
Part 3: Managing the life cycle. This segment covered how to manage activities, rein in excesses, and otherwise mitigate unexpected circumstances. It discussed scope creep, fielding customer requests for additional features, and generally finding that the program or project has grown beyond the limits of its funding.
|Door Prizes (2):||We gave away two (2) copies of the indispensable book, How to Run Successful Projects III: The Silver Bullet (3rd edition) by Fergus O'Connell.|
Natal holds a Bachelors degree in mathematics, clear California
teaching credentials in multiple subject (grades K-6) and single-subject
(grades 7-12) mathematics. For her Masters and Ph.D. degrees (in Educational
Psychology/Technology from the University of California, Santa Barbara)
work she focused on utilizing computer technology to create change in
has taught at many levels: middle school computer science and mathematics,
fourth grade, mathematics in the high school and computer programming
at Allan Hancock Community College and for the University of California
Extension department for over eight years. She is a frequent speaker at
conferences, including educational conferences, drug prevention, educational,
and technical conferences.
has developed numerous courses for the University of California Extension
program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, based on computer
technology training for teachers and technology integration into the classroom
and assisted in the development of the Multimedia Requirements for the
Graphic Design/Multimedia Emphasis degree for Allan Hancock College.
1994 Dottie founded Imagen Multimedia Corporation, which has received
contracts from the Department of Justice, SBIR grants, CSAP, the US Department
of Education and various other agencies and entities to develop multimedia
applications. Imagen employs artists, programmers, educators, and researchers
in development of educational and dissemination software. Natal is a frequent
presenter at educational conferences on technical and technology integration
Imagen is currently working on a large multinational project distance education Web site project. They are also involved in development of educational data collection software for elementary and secondary schools, and a series of multimedia CD-ROM projects for Federal and State clients.