This blog article was previously posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 and has been updated to provide readers the most up-to-date information.
The Project Manager’s role is not an easy one. With so many moving parts and multiple people invested in project success, it is critical that Project Managers stay one step ahead of the game.
The ability to keep scope, people, and schedules on track can make or break a project. Staying ahead of the game has become even more critical during the global pandemic with many project teams working remotely. See our webinar on managing remote project teams here with tips on communication, effective management, organization, and employee benefits.
The following six steps can help make a project successful...
Typically, when a project is kicking off, the goal is to find the right resources for the tasks at hand. Equally important is finding the right Project Manager. One who has enough experience and training to successfully manage the project, and not just the person who happens to be available at the moment. The right Project Manager is the one whose skill set matches the project requirements.
It is also vital that the project manager be able to adapt to the changing landscape of remote teams and can effectively manage a virtual project execution team.
The first step to getting team buy-in is to start at the beginning. Often project’s scope, estimates, costs, and schedules are not set by the Project Manager or the Project Team. Business cases or proposals are often determined by a different group. Involving the project execution team in building the project plan and schedule is a fundamental way to ensure team buy-in. Important areas to agree on include:
Team buy-in is not enough to make a project successful. All the team players in the world will not help you if the Executive sponsoring the project is not wholeheartedly invested. A specific person at the top of the organization needs to take ownership and show support for the project. This is critical to making sure that the team sees the value to the organization and the project needs to move forward and be successful.
Projects often need someone to knock down resistance, secure scarce resources or manage scope issues with internal or external clients. Having a sponsor that can deal with these issues is key to project success.
According to the 2018 Pulse of the Profession report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), 38% of projects have no active executive sponsorship. That is a disconcerting metric as an executive sponsor has several key duties:
For internal projects, and often for external projects, there are too many demands for resources. Too many projects in production at one time will strain the organization, causing all projects to suffer. Many people think that if they are already doing something for one project, it is easy to do it for a few at a time. Extensive multi-tasking has been shown to actually slow people down, so let your Project Managers and team members focus on a small number of tasks and projects at one time. This will allow them to be more efficient, produce better quality work and prevent delays that could affect the entire organization.
Many effective Project Teams hold short daily meetings. It’s not enough to send occasional emails or wait to communicate when there’s an issue. Communication is critical to project success and maintaining the flow of a project. Find a time that is good for all team members. Schedule a daily stand-up meeting or a weekly update meeting and insist that everyone attend either in person or virtually. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page, not assuming that an important piece of information has flowed to everyone and help catch issues before they become large problems.
Communication is even more important with the transition to remote workforces for many organizations. Tools that enable more effective communications when teams are not sitting with each other need to be evaluated. What works for one team may not work for another team so the Project Manager must be vigilant in adapting to the new normal.
Before any other work is started on the project, spend time defining the scope. If a different team defined the project, then be sure to re-examine the scope and include specific tasks, critical deadlines, and the end goal. This allows the Project Manager to fight against scope creep or unrealistic deadlines, which are definitely project killers. Clearly defined scope helps keep everyone on track and heading for the same schedule and end goal.
Scope, schedule, and budget are well-known touchstones for keeping a project on track. These extra steps will make the Project Manager’s job easier in the long run and help him to manage all pieces of the project through to a successful, on-time, on-budget project completion.
What do you feel is an important asset to managing successful projects? Comment below.
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