Practical Project Management; Part 1

Many years ago, I worked for a company that sold software to large corporate clients.  We also converted their data from the old software to the new software.  In the course of business, we got a large client with locations in several states that bought a huge software and conversion package.  I was a member of the conversion team.  I remember attending the initial planning meetings in a conference room right after the contract was signed.  We were all dazed and a little shell shocked by the immensity of the project ahead of us.  The manager of the project stood up in the front of the room and acknowledged that the size and scope of the project were nothing we had ever done before.  Then he looked around the room, making eye contact with each one of us, as he asked, “How do you eat an elephant?”  We looked at each other, certain that Tom has lost it when he asked his own question, “One bite at the time!” 

When you’re facing a new or large project, it easy to feel overwhelmed.  Project management helps you break a project down into the smaller, bite-size chunks that allow you to accomplish it.  Project Management gets you on track with knowing what you’re trying to accomplish, what has to be done to accomplish it and, most importantly, the time frames to get it done.  The following article by Brian Tracy explains project management in 5 easy steps.  Part 1, which explains the first two steps, is today.  The rest of the article will be posted in the next couple days. 

Some skills are peripheral to success. It’s nice to have them, but they don’t make much of a difference one way or another. There are other skills, however, that are absolutely essential to your fulfilling your potential, and you must develop them to a fairly high degree if you are to achieve all of your goals.

One of these absolutely essential skills is the ability to manage projects of various sizes. Project management is a function not just of those who build hydroelectric dams or construct huge skyscrapers. You organize and engage in a project each time you go shopping at the grocery store. If you are in sales, every prospect you are working on developing into a regular customer is a project. If you are going out for the evening with another person, you are planning and organizing a project.  When you decide to become excellent at project management, you begin to apply a systematic process such as the one I will describe. Your ability to achieve multitask jobs is to control everything else you accomplish. And it’s not that difficult to learn.


In any project, the first thing to do is start at the goal and work back. Every project begins with your clearly defining exactly what you want to accomplish and what it will look like if it is accomplished perfectly.

For example, let’s say that you decide to take a two-week trip to the Caribbean next winter. This is a project. You begin by defining what an ideal Caribbean vacation would consist of in every detail. You think about the hotel, the beaches, the daytime and evening activities you enjoy, the kind of people and service you want to experience and, of course, your budget. With all of those ingredients, and perhaps more, in mind, you come up with a clear description of the perfect winter holiday in the sun.


You next make a list of everything that you will have to do in order to achieve that final goal. You investigate the various Caribbean islands you could visit. You call more than one travel agent, to find out if there are particular packages, including airfare and hotels, that you can purchase at excellent prices well in advance. You plan your budget and determine where and when you will get the money that you require for this trip. You consider your work responsibilities and think through how you will arrange being away for two weeks without your company or your clients suffering at the time.

About The Author

Brian Tracy is legendary in sales addressing more than 400,000 men and women each year on the subjects of management, leadership, and sales effectiveness. He has produced more than 300 audio/video programs and has written over 26 books, including his just-released books “TurboStrategy,” and “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.” He can be reached at (858) 481-2977 or

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