It isn’t unusual for projects to cost more than expected, take longer than planned, or grow beyond their intended size or scope. Effective project management requires careful attention to detail, including planning, carrying out, and completing projects on time and on budget. In the real world, however, project management isn’t quite as easy as it seems on paper. If you want to get better results with your projects, the five tips below should help.
1. Identify The Underlying Goal Of The Project Or The Reason Behind Doing It
Although this tip sounds relatively obvious, it is surprising how often project managers have no idea why certain projects are on schedule. When I meet with them and ask them why they are doing a particular project, they usually answer by saying that they are doing it because someone else told them to. Unfortunately, that isn’t good enough if you want to get successful project outcomes.
The project manager needs to have a deeper understanding of the purpose of the project. Why does the project matter to your company or organization? By identifying how the project fits within the larger goals of your business, you can help team members understand why it is important, which can make them more dedicated and motivated. Executives are also more likely to support projects when they understand how they will benefit the business. Projects that are supported by the upper management of the company usually are allotted more resources, making them more likely to succeed.
2. Be Realistic
Organizations often undertake large projects that the stakeholders find really exciting. For example, they may open a new location in a foreign country or they may sponsor a sports stadium in a large city. While projects like these are exciting, it is important to be realistic in terms of how much money is required, how long it will take to complete, and how involved the project will be.
3. Make Sure Every Team Member Understands Their Duties
In sports, teammates work together on the field to successfully complete their plays. Every member of the team has their own unique responsibilities. The same concept should apply to project management. Every person working on the project needs to have a clear understanding of their role, including the tasks or duties that they are responsible for. Below is an outline of how some of the responsibilities should be distributed:
– The Project Manager. This person is responsible for planning and managing the project, tracking performance, correcting course when necessary, managing team members, reporting on the status of the project, and projecting the outcome.
– The Sponsor Of The Project. This person is usually a company executive or works in a managerial role. Their duties involve advising the project manager.
– Functional managers. These individuals are tasked with finishing different parts of the project and delivering results.
– The Customer. The end customer sets the requirements for the project. They also review the deliverables to make sure that they live up to the objectives of the project.
– The Team Members. Every member of the team is tasked with finishing different parts of the project.
– The Suppliers. These people or organizations are responsible for providing any supplies or services that are required for the project.
4. Take Advantage Of Your Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
The hierarchy of the project is outlined in the work breakdown structure, showing when different parts of the project should be completed. The information in the WBS should be formatted in a way that is easy to understand, which usually means listing it chronologically. One easy way of creating a WBS that can be updated throughout the project is by using Post-it notes on a whiteboard. That way, you can move deliverables around as needed if the project changes. Sadly, work breakdown structures are rarely used as much as they should be. They provide valuable information about the project including how long it is scheduled to last, how much different parts of the project will cost, and budgeting details. This format breaks the project down into small, bite-sized pieces, which improves accuracy when budgeting.
5. A Project Manager’s Role Is Not To Put Out Fires
Of all of the tips listed here, this one is the most difficult to implement. Oftentimes, organizations expect project managers to put out fires when projects go wrong. Here is more information on what they do from Atkins. The project management process is not meant to save projects that were poorly planned. Rather, it is a method that needs to be implemented across the entire organization. Every project that the organization takes on should be managed in the same way, no matter how much money it will cost or how large it is. The capabilities of the project management team directly affect the outcomes of the projects they work on. To get more support for this methodology, show upper-level managers at your organization why it is so valuable and how it can result in better outcomes.