Project Management

 

Managing an ARC-supported project can be a challenging, but rewarding experience. Throughout this journey, you will pick up on many skills and lessons which can be carried through the rest of your life. The uncertainty of what lies ahead prevents us from outlining every possible milestone, but here we intend to provide general action items for how to successfully carry out your project within ARC.

In general, a project manager’s responsibilities can be broken into three categories:

  • Development of project mission
  • Proposal of project resources
  • Guiding of project progress

Let’s breakdown the responsibilities associated with each category:

TLDR list is included in the conclusion

Development of project mission

The fundamental component of a project is its mission. It serves to inform laypeople about the project’s process and goal. The mission can also be considered the project’s elevator pitch. If a project’s mission cannot be condensed into 2-3 sentences, then you may want to consider structural revision.

When a new project is formed, the project manager is responsible for crafting this mission.

Proposal of project resources

Resources are the fuel required to reach your project’s mission. This encompasses any of the following units:

  • Team size
  • Knowledge
  • Funding
  • Workspace
  • Equipment

When a new project is formed, the project manager is responsible for drafting a budget of these resources. There is no special format for this budget, it just needs to acknowledge what you need to be successful.

The leadership team will review this budget before work takes place. If approved, it is the leadership team’s responsibility to ensure these resources are provided.

One of the more challenging problems is connecting people to the required knowledge, also known as onboarding. This requires understanding the present distribution of your team’s skills, identifying the gaps, then directing them to the proper resources. If you have any issues with this process, let the leadership team know.

After onboarding new members, the project manager is responsible for submitting a roster of current students and their basic information (e.g. grade, major).

As a Purdue organization, funds must be verified with the leadership team before being used. So if you budgeted $100 for a new part, then later in the year you would need to double-check with leadership before making the payment.

Currently, our organization can only provide reimbursements. This means money held by Purdue ARC cannot be spent directly on purchases, only to reimburse the purchaser. So to buy the $100 part mentioned above: a student within the team would have to buy the part, then file for reimbursement. We are actively working on obtaining a purchasing card, which would change this process. If reimbursement is an issue, notify leadership and we will try our best to work something out.

Guiding of project progress

Lastly, project managers have an expectation to oversee the team’s progress throughout the semester. Within ARC, PM’s have a unique opportunity to apply their own leadership styles and techniques. As a general recommendation, try not to get overly bogged-down by bizz-buzz-words. Focus on breaking down the project’s mission into actionable items, then organizing the completion of those items.

To ensure projects are reaching their mission, it is expected check-ins are performed at ARC’s weekly leadership meeting. While project managers aren’t explicitly responsible for delivering the status updates, they should oversee that it gets done.

If the check-ins indicate some underlying issues, then the leadership team may request to meet with the project manager and discuss solutions.

At the end of each semester, project managers are responsible for organizing a presentation to cover their team’s work. Again the PM doesn’t single-handily write this presentation, just oversees its completion.

Conclusion

If you made it this far, then you are one step closer to seeing your ideas come to life. Writing about project overhead is probably just as painful as reading it, but it’s often a necessary evil to achieving results.

The following is a compiled list of the PM’s responsibilities:

  • Find the project’s mission
  • Budget necessary resources
  • Onboard new members
  • Submit a team roster
  • Verify and reimburse purchases
  • Check-in with the leadership team weekly
  • Present project progress each semester

The leadership team will explicitly state when these tasks need to be completed.

SAO provides documentation on the process of completing tasks such as scheduling rooms, submitting activity forms and more.

We understand lots of details in completing these tasks are vague, this is intentional. This offers freedom in how you choose to complete them. It cannot be overstated that if you have any questions, consult the leadership team.

Best of luck!