Practical Magic Project Management -- The Process Groups
In every project, there are supposed to be a set of regular processes and deliverables that are necessary to make the project successful. The PMI would have you believe that every single one is necessary, but in practice, you need to scope the processes to the scope of the project. Two guys spending a month building an app for 10K is going to need a different scope of management than the two year, 2.5 billion, 7000 person effort to build the Mars Curiosity rover (Luke Dubord, JPL Avionics Systems Engineer gave a fascinating keynote at a conference I attended). Keep that in mind as you look at PMing your next magical working.
Still, no matter the size or type of project, the processes typically always include certain categories of work. These are called process groups, because each category includes different useful processes across different areas. For really large projects, different sub-stages can have their own cycles.
|Is it just me, or does this look like a plumbing diagram?|
Here's a quick, nontechnical overview:
Planning: this is where you figure out how you are going to do the thing you want to do. Not all aspects of corporate planning are going to apply to a magical working, but some will. The time you spend planning significantly shortens the time actually doing the thing, as anyone who's ever been on a badly planned project knows. The bulk of the project management work is planning -- don't shortchange this step. In fact, you should spend as much time planning your working as you do executing it. For a year-long working, that's 10-15 weeks of planning. BUT, and this is a big but, you don't do all the planning before starting the work. Sure, you want to get a head start, but the planning should continue throughout the work (adjusting the plan as things change, adding to it as you get more information, etc.). And there's one critical difference between magical and mundane project management. At work, I can plan all I want, but it doesn't get a single line of code written. In a magical working, the planning and the doing often meld. The act of sorting out how I want to accomplish things is part of the mental mindset needed to actually do them. It's a nifty trick.
Executing: this is where you do the work. If you have the luxury of a team, this is where you mange their work. For your magical working it'll mostly just be you, which means you do the stuff AND manage your work to meet your goal. This is where most magicians start and finish their magic, missing out on some critical processes that make for a successful working. But the work is the work and without it, all the planning in the world will get you nothing. As much time as you spend planning, you spend actually doing (there's another 10-15 weeks). So as soon as the basic planning is done, you gotta get started. I have to admit if anyone's going to fail through over-planning, it's me. But let my shortcoming be to your benefit. If you're a conjure where angels fear to tread kind of person, you'll find that the planning just enhances the actual execution.
Monitoring/Controlling: this is where you watch over things. If you don't keep an eye on a project, it can go all sideways on you -- either finishing with the wrong results or not finishing successfully at all. Once again, you don't want to shortchange this. Just as with planning, you should spend as much time here as you do actually doing the thing (or maybe a little less, since you might not have anyone to monitor but yourself). For a magical working, this means checking in with yourself, making sure your progress is where you want it to be, maybe divining results you can't see immediately. If you have enlisted any help (whether that's from actual other people or from servitors, spirits, etc.) you need to follow up. And if you have other parties who aren't helping directly, but have a stake in the results, you need to check in with them too. This isn't something you do once, it's ongoing during the working. So even though it takes time, its not apart from the magic, but a critical component of it. For a longer project, you naturally do more than a short one. But unless it's a mini-working (in which case it may be more of a task than a project per say) you will want to keep up to date on how things are going.
Closing: this is where you wrap it up. Like initiating, there's not a lot to do here, but what there is is very important. The project team has to be thanked and let go (and with magical constructs, this is particularly important), interested parties informed, any supplies have to be appropriately disposed of. Most importantly, you should have a bit of a self-review on the project. Did it turn out OK? Did you meet your goals? Were you on schedule? Let's say you just spent the past year on the "start a new career" magical working, it's worthwhile to take a couple of weeks to wrap it up right.
Now look, if you're casting a quick spell for luck or love or something, this is going to seem like WAY overkill. But is a quick spell really all you're doing? For the important stuff, you might want to put a bit more into it, especially if you include the stuff you do in the mundane world to support the magic. It's your life, and all the parts of it relate to each other.
Think about what magical project for your life could be big enough to support the weight of this kind of management. Like for a whole year. We'll talk more about goal setting soon, because there's a strong argument for setting crazy audacious goals -- but only if you have the tools to meet them.