Program Management – A Bird’s Eye View

This practicum has been my first experience managing a project independently. While it is a relatively small project, it involved coordinating in-house staff and outside agencies. There are a few key learnings that have come from my time managing the Legal Health Check-Up project:

  • Project management requires a high level of organization – This was relatable to my experience with case management. That being said, I have learned that the tasks associated with project management are often larger and need to be broken down into smaller, more tangible tasks to ensure efficiency.
  • It is important to know what is happening on the ground level – Last week I administered the Legal Health Check-Up tool, with a client, in person, for the first time – 4 months into the project. I had gone through the check-up in demonstration mode independently, but hadn’t experience it in a real setting, first hand. This process helped me to better understand the use of the tool and potential areas for improvement. I also now recognize the importance of having the firsthand experience involved in a particular project.
  • Time goes by really fast – Deadlines are just as important in project management as they are in case management, especially during short projects. I can see the importance in developing schedules, calendars, task lists and deadlines for project management activities; without these, time will pass you and important tasks will have less relevance.

Throughout this process, I have learned that I really enjoy project management. I appreciate the organization that it involves and it fits well with my very “Type A” personality. In addition to the learnings mentioned above, I have gained a further understanding of the importance of project evaluation, and personal evaluation and reflection. Project management provides a different perspective than what social workers are traditionally used to. It gives us a bird’s eye view – which, can be a good position to be in to observe things from a holistic perspective.  However, it is important for us to recognize that things may appear very different on the ground, which is why I identified that as a key learning above. Regardless, it is always important to maintain a holistic perspective, be objective and have the ability to take a step closer, or a step back as needed.

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