When it comes to project management, there are many challenges and frustrations to keep each project on track and within budget. There are several factors to consider, as well as internal and external factors that may cause a project to fail. However, by taking a few precautions and having an excellent plan in place, you can manage and lead your project to success. Here are some few project management tricks to help ensure your project will move along smoothly and achieve value for money for your stakeholders and your clients:
Trick 1: Hammer down Project Details
Before you ever start the project, make sure that it is based on a solid foundation and that you have the buy-in from all key stakeholders. Understand their interests and expectations and be aware of how they will determine whether or not the project is successful i.e. the lookups. You will also need to ensure that the project scope is distinctly identified, including the roles and responsibilities of the various project team members. Develop the project plan with timelines and verify that the goals of the key elements are clearly defined and closely aligned. You should also establish measurable and trackable success criteria, including accomplishing tasks on schedule, achieving budget targets, confirming production functionality is satisfactory to the customer, and ensuring government, regulatory rules and/or industry regulations are met. Take care of all the little details to lay the groundwork for your project’s success. Remember to give any little detail an attention because that can cause a big blow and stake the foundation of the project success criteria.
Trick 2: Identify Project and Team Requirements
Once you have a strong detail that aligns to the scope in place, you can start implementing it by forming an effective project team. The project team is a working unit of individual sections, sharing a common goal, achieved through the structured application of combined skills.
Keep in mind always that the first step to team success is the initial organization, to assemble and organize available human resources capable of working together as a whole through the integration of individual skills, talents, and personalities comes with its own challenge that needs to be overcome with dedication and wisdom. As a project manager or the man in charge of the said project, you’ll need to align those skills, talents and personalities with the appropriate project needs. Make sure that each individual working on the project is clear about their task and what they are providing upon completion as against benefits.
Trick 3: Be the Project Leader
A key role in managing project is the project leader. In this position, you will need to establish good and positive team dynamics and energies and act as a coach and/or mentor to all project team members. You will also be the leader when it comes to getting input from the project team and major stakeholders, as well as getting their buy-in. As a project leader, you are essentially the captain of the ship and hold all the mandate and responsibilities of the project that means you will need to ascertain the rough waters that may be ahead and develop position and concise strategies to cater for that uncertainty. In addition, you will need to inspire your team to follow you through the rough times, as well as the calm times. If you don’t have effective leadership skills, you may not be able to prevail over the challenges facing your project. Take the helm and lead your team to success. Be encouraged and keep the fire burning saying to yourself even when the going gets tough that things are going to be over soon no matter the situation
Trick 4: Establish Critical Project Milestones
Identify all the defining moments throughout the project. You can provide a life cycle of the project by including the four main phases of project management namely initiation, planning, execution, and closure. Perform a real time evaluation at the end of each project phase. Making sure to examine every deliverable. From parts of the production line to the technical documents to the project plan, you will need all of the elements involved to ensure the product is meeting the project specifications and targets. The product needs to be aligned with the quality your customers are expecting. These milestones will not only help you to eliminate project risk and monitor project change, but will also alert you to any continuing problems and ensure that each piece is correctly completed.
Trick 5: Keep the Communication Lines Open
One of the most critical steps in the project management process is effective communication and to larger extent is to ensure that the communication lines are open and understandable. As the project leader, you will need to be the operator of this communications system. Develop and Keep track of your communications plan and stick to it.
The main trick here is to make communication consistent, open, and honest and clear throughout the project phase. Make sure you keep in touch with all key stakeholders, client and team members during the project phase. Ensure that everyone in your team has all the necessary information to make decisions and proceed with the project. You can also keep everyone on the same page by creating status reports based upon the project information and updates using social media or any other means possible.
Trick 6: Effective Document Control
Develop an efficient and accurate document control system to track all information in and out of the project. From the initiation of the project to the milestones along the way, you should have documentation signed by all the concern stakeholders. Even with the best project management processes in place, it is not often that a project is completed on time and within budget, so you will need to have the appropriate documentation ready for the stakeholders and plan for any unforeseen situations. However, you don’t want to overcomplicate the project management process with too much documentation that doesn’t add value to the project. Keep it simple and safe.
Trick 7: Effective Risks Management
Managing risk in project management can be stressful and any experience project Manager can tell you. There can be a risk at any time during the project phase. Your project management experience with similar projects can be helpful to guide you so that you may be able to foresee when risk is imminent and when corrective action needs to be taken. By having open communication, you should be able to understand what, if any, risks are approaching and manage them before they get out of hand.
You will need to identify and control project risks before they control you and bend you down. Your team is the best asset to help you in controlling and managing risk. Since a risk is only a potential problem, you want to take care of it before it becomes an actual problem. As one of the most imperative best practices in the project management process, risk management is essential to project success.
Tip 8: Avoid Scope Creep
Managing and controlling scope creep in project management is another principal element to project success. Although in real time project management some change is inevitable in any project undertaken, you will want to keep your project from creeping into chaos and that is beneficial. In general, scope creep happens when new elements are added to a project that’s already been approved, but no consideration is given to increasing the budget, adding more time to the schedule and/or adding more resources to compensate for the revised project. This normally happens when the initiation stage misses some element of the project scope that will affect operation in terms of safety and production. If the project’s scope does need to be revisited, you can participate in the rescoping process. Make sure to have the proper documentation and have all stakeholders sign off on these changes before proceeding. This process needs critical and expect attention because of contractual issues and conflict that can arise because of poor communication and documentation.
Trick 9: Testing and Monitoring Deliverables
Deliverables should be tested and monitored at every critical milestone and the final product must meet the project requirements. Before moving on to the next phase of the project, you need to be sure that the product is coming along as planned. As a project evolves, several types of deliverables are produced to support project continuation, to measure progress, and to validate plans and assumptions. It is important to know that results are expected and must be delivered at every stage of the project lifecycle. At the end of the project, the deliverable must meet or exceed the customer expectations to be considered a success. The final phase of the project is closure. This grand finale is a sign of achievement for you as a project manager or leader, as well as the rest of your team and stakeholders. Once the project is complete and the customer is happy, only then will your mission be complete.
Trick 10: Evaluate the Project (Lesson Learned)
This area is where you will need to spend some time to gather valuable information that will help you build on your experience for the next big project. What lessons have you learned along your project management process? Each project can be a valuable learning tool and truly it is. You will want to review the project as a whole, as well as analyze various project components. What were the project victories? Where were there project disappointments? Make informed conclusions about the project’s quality and the product’s performance as against specifications. Compare the planned return on investment (ROI) to the actual return on investment (ROI) as one way to understand the level of your success. This is best done with the whole team on board. You can then finally use the lessons learned from each project to minimize future failures and maximize future successes.
Written by: Ishmael Ansah