How to manage successful projects!
Many of us do not see themselves as project managers, but the company projects involve us and our organizations every day. A layout changing, a new line implementation, a new department construction, the organization change are some examples of projects that could involve us. The seven key elements for the success of a project are:
- The goal definition
- The sponsor search
- The project leader definition
- The identification of Project Team
- The involvement of the customer or user
- The definition of project plan
- The control
- The Goal definition: The first step towards a successful project is the definition of the goal. Only with greater attention to the initial analysis activity and design it is possible to make a clear definition of goals and to reduce one of the main project failure causes: the wrong target definition that affects some fields in some particular way
- The sponsor search: The second step is to have management support in order to complete the project. This does not mean to send or receive e-mail on the importance of the various ongoing projects, but to have the support of senior managers who need to regularly monitor the progress and to have project success in their annual goals.
- The project leader definition: The third element is to have a project leader, preferably a manager who is invested in the success of the project. The project manager must be involved and he has to understand how to proactively resolve conflicts and problems that arise. This person must be able to manage the resources they are team members, customers, suppliers and leaders.
- The identification of the project team: The fourth element is very critical and concerns the identification of people that compose the team. The risks are usually twofold. Typically people make the mistake of loading a capable resource down with a lot of extra work hoping it is able to carry it out or sharing the work on unsuitable resources that will never manage to reach to any positive conclusion. Both solutions make the success of the project a very difficult undertaking. In the first case, the resource typically try to complete all assigned work but the results are often under the expectations or in late. In the second case, the task are usually not done and the project manager lose time to understand the difficulties and try to resolve them. The risk becomes greater when you consider that these people can do damage instead of bringing results and that we often find the results after a long time.
- The involvement of the customer or user: The fifth element is to engage customers or users at the appropriate time. Projects are often developed without considering the real needs of internal or external customer and we develop projects that will never be concluded or that are over budget. It should be noted that the main sponsor is the end user of our work, if it is not satisfied and it is not convinced the result of the work will soon be abandoned.
- The Definition of the project plan: in this context we define the project planas the operations listed below:
- Create a task list and a work breakdown structure (Work Breakdown Structure – WBS)
- Enter task duration or Estimated work
- Create dependencies between tasks
- Assign resources
- Define the activities cost
The project plan must be adapted to the context and to the type of project for which it is thought. A project may be internal or commissioned by a client, may involve more than one company, may request the partecipation of several business areas or just one. The activities details and the resource management become important elements in this phase (contents of the project plan), in fact, going to a too high level of detail can be counterproductive, making the project progress monitoring and its costs development too onerous. To support this control there are a lot of commercially software which can assist the work of project managers and project team. In recent years we have witnessed to a constant development of PM software, even if the basic methodologies and algorithms of support remained almost the same. The product development has primarily focused on project communication and reporting even because companies has often to manage activities at extended distances and the feedback is crucial. In summary, a project plan is for:
- define a project
- arrangements with its customers
- plan, manage and control the project
- communicate with resources
- assessing risks and contingencies
“Although I’m not sure about what the scope of the project would be, I’m sure I want the project to be completed within 1 month for less than $2 million (when actually it would take at least 6 months and not less than $10 million!)” Ever come across a project sponsor with such project deadline/requirement? Bet most of you must be saying ‘That’s Business As Usual’.
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