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Project Management

For Public Health Professionals


Sustainable Management Development Program

Division of Public Health Systems and Workforce Development

Center for Global Health

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Version 2.1

Project Management for Public Health Professionals


Project Management for Public Health Professionals iii

Introduction vi

Sustainable Management Development Program vi

Acknowledgements vi

Project Management for Public Health Professionals 1

About this Course 1

Target Audience 1

Learning Objectives 1

Schedule 2

Icon Glossary 2

Introduction to Project Management 1

What is a Project? 1

What is Project Management? 2

The Project Management Method 2

Initiate and Define 1

Step 1 Select Project and Define Scope 1

Plan 3

Step 2: Define Activities 3

Step 3: Determine Task Dependencies 12

Step 4: Develop Schedule 14

Step 5: Allocate Resources 17

Step 6: Create A Plan to Address Risks 22

Step 7: Develop Communication Plan 28

Implement & Control 32

Step 8: Implement the Project 32

Step 9: Monitor and Take Corrective Actions 34

Close 39

Step 10: Close Out and Document 39

Conclusion 45

Summary 45

Congratulations! 45

What’s Next? 45

References 49

Wysocki, Robert K. et al., Building Effective Project Teams. New York: Wiley, 2001 52

Appendices 53

Appendix A Applied Learning Project 54

Appendix B Glossary of Terms 59

Appendix C Course Evaluation Form 65


Sustainable Management Development Program

SMDP partners with ministries of health, educational institutions, and nongovernmental organizations in developing countries to promote organizational excellence in public health by strengthening leadership and management capacity. SMDP’s goal is to improve the effectiveness of the public health sector in developing countries by

  • Empowering local officials with better leadership, management, and decision-making skills

  • Stimulating creativity and innovation among local health personnel to improve public health service delivery


Michael Greer – The Manager’s Pocket Guide to project Management

Gary Heerkens - Project Management

BZ Posner - What it Takes to be a Good Project Manager

Project Management Institute - Project Management Institute Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures

Project Management for Public Health Professionals

About this Course

The goal of this course is to enable you to use internationally recognized processes and tools to support high quality management of public health projects.

Target Audience

This course is designed for supervisors in public health services, typically at Ministry of Health district-level. It is expected that you have responsibilities to assemble a project work team, design and implement a project plan, and evaluate project results.

The following are prerequisites to this course:

  • Basic computer skills

  • Basic supervisory skills

Learning Objectives

When you complete this course you will be able to:

  • Write a project workplan

  • Generate a work breakdown structure

  • Develop a network diagram and schedule

  • Track and manage the project

  • Close-out and conduct post project reviews to ensure continuous learning


Day 1

  • Introduction to Project Management

  • The Project Management Method

  • Initiate & Define: step 1

  • Plan: steps 2-3

Day 2

  • Plan: steps 4-7

  • Implement & Control: step 8-9

  • Close: step 10

  • Conclusion

Icon Glossary

The following icons are used in this workbook:



Introduction to Project Management

What is a Project?

Project Management for Public Health Professionals is a course based on the internationally-recognized standards for project management developed and promoted by the Project Management Institute (PMI). According to the PMI’s standards of practice document, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (2004), a project is:

“A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a

unique product or service.”

Projects can vary widely in size and scope, from large projects that may take many months to complete (building and equipping a hospital), to smaller projects that require less time to finish (installing the hospital’s computer network). A large project will typically be divided into many smaller sub-projects in order to be managed effectively. What both large and small projects have in common is that they are time limited and create a unique product or service.

In this workshop, we are going to learn ways to organize and manage our public health projects more effectively, regardless of their size.

Characteristics of a Project

Successful projects balance three key factors to meet their objective in a high quality manner.

What is Project Management?

“Project Management” means using knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project.


Can you think of some characteristics of successful projects?

Skills Needed for Project Management

Three fundamental areas of skill needed by all project managers include:

Planning—the ability to plan the use or organizational resources of time, personnel, budget, facilities, equipment, and supplies to achieve organizational objectives

Technical—the specific professional technical skills needed for a project.

People—the ability to manage and motivate people who will implement the project activities, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and resolve conflicts and interpersonal problems.

Research among skilled project managers in the U.S. identified more specifically the skills that differentiate high performing project managers from their peers.1

These skills are listed in order of importance below.

  1. Communication: listening, persuading, negotiating

  2. Organizational: planning, goal-setting, analyzing

  3. Team building: empathy, motivation, team spirit

  4. Leadership: sets example, energetic, vision, delegates, positive attitude

  5. Coping: flexibility, creativity, patience, persistence

  6. Technical: experience, project knowledge

The Project Management Method

The project management method consists of ten steps and the use of a series of project management tools that will help you initiate, define, plan, execute, control and close- out your projects. All projects, regardless of their size, should consider these steps, although formal plans may not be required for very small projects.


1. Select project & define scope

2. Define project activities

3. Determine task dependencies

4. Develop schedule

5. Allocate resources

6, Create a plan to address risks

7. Create a communication plan with stakeholders

8. Implement the project

9. Monitor & take corrective action

10. Close out & document

Initiate and Define

Initiate and Define Checklist

Define project goals and objectives

Meet with stakeholders

Agree on project deliverables

Complete project agreement

Obtain approvals

Step 1 Select Project and Define Scope


Project workplan

Public Health professionals are frequently assigned a project to manage. They may not have a say in which project they work on, but based on their experience and skills, they may contribute a great deal to defining the scope and quality of the project. There may be many organizations interested in the outcome of the project. These stakeholders’ interests and expectations must also be taken into account.

The Initiate and Define stage enables you to define the project and gain agreement on the project’s goals and objectives.

The Project Workplan


A written description that clearly communicates what the project is (and is not).


  • Establish agreement between project team members and stakeholders about the project.

  • Build team member commitment – team should write the charter together.

  • Foundation for project planning.

  • Helps in managing expectations.

  • Communicate project to others.


Ideally, at the beginning of a project. Also useful to develop one for a project already started. Update it as needed.


The beneficiary of the project: the population who will be served by the project.

The project workplan is based on the project goal, objectives, and deliverables. In addition to these elements, it includes all project stakeholders and project assumptions.

A goal is the overall purpose of the project.

An objective is the specific measurable achievements expected at the end of the project.

Deliverables are the tangible outputs or products that are delivered as a result of the project.

It may also include a preliminary budget and project team. These will be developed in more detail during the planning phase.

Example AIDS Prevention background study

Imagine you are managing a project to implement a health education background study in Gabarone Botswana. The goal of this project is to systematically identify locations where people meet new sexual partners and/or needle-sharing partners and describe the social and sexual characteristics of the areas identified for the purpose of AIDS prevention. It uses a rapid assessment tool to monitor and improve AIDS prevention program coverage in areas where HIV transmission is most likely to occur.

The objectives of the study are to:

  • Assess and identify priority prevention areas (PPAs)

  • Determine where people meet new sexual and needle-sharing partners in the PPAs through community informant interviews

  • Characterize people who socialize at the venues reported

  • Use the results to inform key stakeholders

Based on the goal and project objectives, you can identify stakeholders and collaborate to develop a project workplan that will guide your planning.

We will use this example throughout the course to help illustrate the key points in project management.

Try this!

Put a star (*) by the goal of the project

Put an exclamation point (!) by the objectives of the project

Put a check mark (√) by the deliverables of the project

Who are the Stakeholders?

The project manager is not the only person involved in initiating the project. There are many other stakeholders. A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the project. This includes the categories listed below, as well as persons from other organizations or work units that might be interested in or affected by the project.


A customer is anyone who will use the product or service created by the project. Customers can be internal or external and play an important role in determining the requirements for product or service.


A sponsor is the person who requires the project to be done. Sponsors are responsible for ensuring that the project team has the proper budget and staff resources to achieve the project objectives. The project sponsors should review and approve in writing the specific guidelines of the Project Workplan.

Team members

Team members are those persons who participate in planning and implementing the tasks necessary to achieve the project objectives.

What Can we assume?

Successful projects are the result of effective partnerships among stakeholders. Quite often, a project’s success is dependent upon certain key factors. If these factors are outside the direct control of the project manager, it is helpful to list these as assumptions. For example, if the project is depending on an outside organization’s promise to lend delivery vehicles, listing this as an assumption will clearly communicate the project’s risk to all stakeholders. You need not list every assumption, just the ones that you want to bring to stakeholders’ attention.

Exercise 1 Project Workplan

  1. In your groups use the case study or the project you have agreed to work on to begin to write your Project Workplan.

  1. Complete the Project Workplan:

  • Project Background

  • Project Description

  • Project Objectives

  • Project Deliverables

  • Project Stakeholders

  • Project Assumptions

  • Required Resources

  1. What people skills did your team use to help you reach consensus? Discuss with your team.

Project Workplan

Project Background

Describe the background of this project. What is the problem that this project will address? Is it related to other projects? Is it a subproject of another project?

Project Description/Goal

Write a project description statement here. Describe the goal, scope, or ‘boundaries’ of the project in terms of what is included and what is excluded from this specific project.

Project Objectives

List project objectives


List project stakeholders (those interested in or affected by the project) who are not on the team.

Project Deliverables

List specific deliverables of the project (specific products the project will deliver, e.g. a product, delivery of a service)

Project Assumptions

Have the team brainstorm at least three assumptions made about the project that identify elements necessary for the project to succeed. For example, availability of special human or technical resources, needed equipment, budget support or any other issues that could affect the success of the project.

Required Resources

Use this section to summarize expected resources requirements or limitations, such as a fixed budget amount. You will develop detailed resource requirements in the planning phase of the project.

Project Team

List project team members, if they’ve already been identified and their primary area of responsibility. If not yet identified, you may want to list general job titles. (ex health economist, HIV epidemiologist)

Budget Estimate

Identify the budget and procurement estimates for the project.

Signature Page Granting Authority to Proceed

Obtain signatures of project sponsor and project manager.

Project Manager Signature:______________________________________________

Project Sponsor Signature: ______________________________________________

Summary - Initiate and Define

  • Use transparent processes and explicit criteria when making project decisions.

  • Collaborate with the project team to create a project agreement to clearly describe the project.

  • Support the project’s success by deciding the priorities for time, quality and cost of the project.

For Reflection

Circle the attributes of a good project manager that are important during the Initiate and Define stage.









Team building


team spirit



sets example



positive attitude








project knowledge


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