Programme & Project Management
How to be a project/programme leader and how to manage a project.
Establishing and managing a project/programme can be very difficult, especially since it involves many volunteers, who need to coordinate with one another and establish a successful and interesting project that reflects the ongoing program topics. This is usually handled by the project leader of the program. But what are the responsibilities of the project leader? How does he manage his team and project? All these questions are answered in this document. It entails a template/ recommendations on how to manage a project and how to: project lead.
The project is proposed by the project leader and possibly another person before there is a project team. The project proposal includes the following steps:
- Development of the project idea in one of your programs.
- Coordination with the programme leader.
- The project should be connected to a program (1) in order to receive support from the program team (2) and to facilitate an improved coordination.
- Elaboration of the concept; if external partnerships and external funding are planned, the concept must be presented to the board at a board meeting. If no external partner or external funding is applied for, the project only needs to be coordinated with the programme leader and the programme coordinator.
Should be included in the concept:
- Presentation of the think tank
- Background of the idea
- Project description
- Planned output / measures
- Added value of the project
- Budget / financial plan (very important: S.u. fundraising)
- First presentation of the project team
Involve your cooperation partners EARLY! Cooperation partners are often only sponsors if they are involved at an early stage. For larger organisations, the periods of time are longer.
You can choose Internal or External people from your think tank. That's up to you! Carefully consider what skills are necessary in the team; having Wordpress/online skills and members who are willing to take over the event management are always helpful. Keep in mind that the implementation of a project idea involves a variety of tasks. This can range from writing mails, budget planning, content conception to organising chair placement at events. For this you can consider different people, abilities and time availability. You should make sure that you can estimate the time required for the project and decide how many people should be in the team. Moreover, discuss with your programme leader whether there should be an internal announcement for the project or not.
Openly and transparently explain to the members what is expected of them without deterring them. But if a member has decided to join, you should make it clear that they are expected to do their job reliably and respect the deadlines. Shifting deadlines should always be avoided! You should also make it a habit of meeting regularly - once a week for major projects, depending on the amount of work. Additionally, the meetings can remind the project members of their deadlines.
The project leader is expected to have good organisational skills in order not to burden the members last minute, but also in order to set long-term deadlines for other activities & set the scope of work in such a way that it is realistically feasible. No one likes to be overwhelmed and work under stress. For this reason it is also very important to set appointments early and send reminders.
First To Do's: Creation of a contact list with e-mail address and telephone numbers, definition of project goals, establishment of the first project phases and first task distributions.
Team building! There's never enough time for that, but it's more important than you think - because with team trust you work faster and better. Go out for a drink from time to time after a meeting. You could also have dinner together after the event. Plan this into your budget if possible, so that nobody has to pay and the members would also receive a small thank-you.
Organise the first meetings with the cooperating partners in close cooperation with the Fundraising and Programme Coordination Board. Here it is important that the first budget has already been set so that you don't go to the meetings empty-handed. The preparation of the budget is an important part of the concept.
An example of a budget plan; this should be prepared by the project leader.
*A person should not do it alone! Therefore, you should always contact your program leader first before sending out requests for funding and cooperation.
The project leader is responsible for the budget and finances of the project. To make sure nothing goes wrong make clear agreements with the cooperation partners and the board. Being the project leader also means assuming responsibility.
Moreover, always obtain a written confirmation when funding has been confirmed on the phone. The board should have a written confirmation to ensure that the project receives the necessary funding. A verbal agreement is not sufficient and can be changed again - which is a disadvantage.
Please clearly agree with the cooperation partners how large their participation should be, both financially and in terms of content. What role do the cooperation partners want to play? How independent are they from your think tank? What are the funding conditions?
The project will only be a success if the teamwork works well together. The goal is not for the project leader to have no spare time. The important keyword here is: Delegating! Therefore, clear briefings are important.
Which format should the project have (Discussion rounds, Workshops, Fish Bowl, etc.)? You should agree together as a team on your format, yet you should have a good idea of which content will be processed, how and in which format it would fit best.
Just as important as the format itself, it should be determined relatively early (in the first project phases) what the results of the project should look like: Visual storytelling, blog series, photo gallery, Policy Brief, Discussion paper, written summary on website, podcast, video, etc. Innovative formats for presenting the results are just as important as the content itself.
The project should be available on the website at an early stage. Discuss with the programme coordinator and the office what form the project should take on the website. You should provide a short description, which would be helpful for interested and inexperienced people. This is important to keep your think tank transparent! Please remember to focus on the project idea. The project team should also be introduced, but should not be the focus of the website presentation - content before self-presentation!
This refers to the invitation of the guests/experts; see below for the invitation of the participants: the invitation management can either be docked to the workshop leaders or to a specific person in the team.
- The invitations for the guests/experts should be made in close cooperation with the project leader and the persons responsible for the content. It is important that there is a list of the people who have been contacted so that invitations are not sent twice and thus appear unprofessional. The invitations for the guests/experts should be made in close cooperation with the project leader and the persons responsible for the content. It is important that there is a list of the people who have been contacted so that invitations are not sent twice and your think tank does not appear unprofessional. Therefore, the invitation management should be strongly controlled by one person. The invitation itself as well as the other documents that are sent with it (short concept and executive summary from your think tank) should be proofread by everyone. Answers should also be answered quickly, so that in case of negative feedback you can quickly search for further guests.
- Here, time management is very significant. Do not start managing invitationstoo late! Otherwise you might have no or low quality speakers.
- It is also particularly important to develop a Plan B. If speakers are still missing two weeks before the event, the project team has to think about something else and develop an alternative. Overturning the schedule completely will never go down well with the participants. Innovative ideas would.
- Managing participants: The management of invitations can either be docked to the workshop leaders or taken over by a specific person in the team.
- If not enough participants have registered for the event, then more promotion is needed. Here it also helps to have names: If the guests are unknown, nobody registers. The project leader should always keep an eye on the number of participants and see if it still matches the venue and catering. If the number of participants is low, one week before the event, the program leader and the program coordinator should know immediately!
From experience, it is helpful to clearly divide the work.
- Project management (organisation, quality management, budget, coordination with the board and cooperation partners)
- Event management (rooms, catering)
- Cooperation partners (support of the project management; the mails should be sent by the project management)
- Workshop leadership, if there are different workshops (work out the schedule, consider questions and take over the moderation of the workshop on the day itself. A lot of preliminary work is also required in terms of content.)
- Guests and the invitation management (here in close cooperation with the workshop leaders and the project management)
- External communication and website
- All members of the project team should be prepared to make corrections and read loops. This reduces the rate of errors.
It is the responsibility of the project leader to promote the project both internally and externally. Please publish the project on the website in time, draw attention to it in the newsletter and include the external communication (TT communication manager) to discuss the press activities. The more ideas you have, the easier it will be for external communication to assist you. So please consider which journalists you would like to contact, what media contacts you have, and what communication strategy you have considered. Please always keep in mind here whether the guests would also agree to conduct interviews and/or use quotes from the guests and speakers, especially in order to include it in your newsletter.
- You should create a folder in your data storage platform right at the beginning of the project and save everything in it. The documents in your communication tools will be deleted in the long run!
- Set up a communication channel and invite all team members as well as the program leader and the person on the board responsible for program coordination.
- Team protocols should always be based on the same template. Output reports are usually better than whole discussions. Send the protocols to the whole project team in time and store them in your storage database so that absentees have access to them.
- Mailings should be included in the distribution of tasks and include important deadlines with the protocol in the mail. If the distribution of tasks was already done at the meeting, then it is best to send the next Doodle (scheduling platform) around right away.
- Your think tank might have already organized a number of events and have obtained catering offers and sifted through rooms. You should contact the project leader if you have already taken part in events and liked the premises or the catering. You can organize a list with catering and rooms, and place it in your database.
- Think Tanks are not rich, so when obtaining offers from venues and caterers, you should try to negotiate down so that you pay as little as possible. The priority of your think tank should be the quality of the content of the events, not the catering.
- Before the event check that all documents are printed and that there is a time schedule if it is a larger event. Think of small things: pens, paper, folders, roll-ups, tape, etc.
- For the nerves it is also important that there is a last meeting before the event where the team goes through the schedule and looks where there might be problems.
- Have at least one person responsible for room & technology and catering in the team. The project leader will not have time for this on the day itself.
- Guest management: For inquiries about the organisation, venue and time. Confirmation should be obtained from one person and all guest contact details should be stored in one place. Don't forget gifts for high-ranking guests! (please remember that gifts are usually not included in the budget).
- Photograph & Visual Storytelling: This can be done by one of the team members and if there is a specific event you want a person to professionally record, ask your network who can support you or has a good contact for a photographer.
- Welcome and Moderation: Should be taken over by the project leader. If it is a big event, the two presidents should welcome. Please discuss in advance with the board who will take over what. Welcoming speeches and moderation's take more time than one imagines!
- Social Media & Communication on the day of the event: This should be discussed with the external communication (communication manager of the TT). You could record live tweets, post stories on Instagram, etc. A Facebook post should always be done as well.
Team: The team is the heart of the project. Without a team there is no project. That's why: Good organization and a pleasant workflow are important!
Organize regular meetings. Without meetings there is no team spirit. The rest of the communication and important decision-making processes should take place by mail or your preferable communication tool. IMPORTANT: Calling helps! In the case of important or time-critical questions, the listener should always be reached and, if necessary, followed up in writing so that there are no misunderstandings.
Team members should be members of the think tank when participating in a project, since this simplifies communication and should be clearly addressed before a project really starts. The foraus model stands for grassroots organisations, but still needs members.
If team members are not doing the work they should be doing, they should be made aware of it. The project leader is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the project goes well. As a project leader you also have to be able to put your foot down. In the same way, the project leader is responsible for ensuring that the project members want to stay with the think tank after the project. This requires good communication and a good atmosphere at the project meetings. Ideally, people should not have to be put under pressure because they enjoy their work!
Deadlines are helpful: Never say there's still time. Always set deadlines with the person(s), by when they should deliver something, so no confusion occurs and the organisation is set.
Board: Please regularly (!) give a progress report to the program leader and present the project to the board at the beginning and shortly before implementation. In the case of projects where money flows, the budgets must be confirmed by a board decision. It is always better to be present at a board meeting and present the project personally. This can be exhausting, but is important so that everyone is on the same level and you can determine together where help is still needed, where the project is going well, etc.
Fundamentally: For events, it is important to inform the Executive Board and obtain a decision if there are external partners and/or funding partners involved. Without external partners or funding it is nevertheless good to present the project at a board meeting in order to get an opinion and possibly ask for support.
- Please always set the board for program coordination and fundraising in the cc part of the email exchange and inform about possible cooperation partners at an early stage.
- When searching for cooperation partners, it is also possible to fall back on previous partners. Therefore, please contact the Board for Fundraising and Programme Coordination so that one can check whether there has previously been any cooperation with the partner and who was the contact exactly as well as how the cooperation went.
External communication (TT communication manager):
- For larger projects, contact the External Communications Board to discuss the communication strategy. This should take place in the middle of the project once the format and guests are in place. Consider which output might be relevant for which target groups: Daily press, specialized media, online or should journalists be contacted and invited? Should a press release be sent? If yes, send it on the day of the event, otherwise the day after. Do not wait longer than a week! Which other outputs can be further exploited?
- The board for external communication is not there to do all the press work for the project. Press releases and other texts should always come from the project team. The external communication is there to give feedback and tips, as well as the "go" for mailings and postings.
- The project leader is responsible for the budget. If there are any additional costs, you should inform the board immediately! Then we will look for solutions together.
- Establish a folder for finances in your data storage platform, where a folder is available for each program.
- Enter all expenses in the voucher list. Keep the original receipts and scan them. Send both the originals and the scanned receipts to the management. If the original receipts and scanned receipts have not been correctly delivered and filed, the money cannot be refunded and you are sitting at your personal expense and we all have a problem.
- Therefore: A good budget and financial planning is important! All questions about program budgeting can also be discussed again with your program leader. The topic of finances and budget should not be neglected, because without receipts, no money!
- After the event, organize a last team meeting. Don't let it drag on! It is very important that everyone gets the opportunity to give feedback.
- Collect lessons! What went well? What could have gone better? The next project leader(s) will be grateful. Skills and knowledge sharing are important.
- Go over the financial plan and the voucher list again: Is something missing? Have all the original receipts been submitted to the office?
- Reports to cooperation partners: Who needs what by when?
- Website: Updating with the new results. Write a short review of the event, collect the pictures for the photo gallery, etc...
- Thank you mailing to participants of the event: Please mail relatively soon after the event. Here applies: concisely & concretely! Please schedule a correction loop. The formatting should be discussed again with the office and the external communication department.
- Thank you mailing to guests & speakers: Please always proofread here again. Formatting not necessary. Formulate personally and refer to further events & newsletters.