You cannot separate a successful business from successful project management. Company owners and managers who are good at project management are more likely to achieve their overall strategic business objectives.
That being said, while project management relies on a set of internationally-accepted principles, standards, conventions and guidelines, the ‘right way’ to do things may vary from organization to organization. Nevertheless, certain tips can improve your project management process and ensure you maximize results. We look at these below.
1. Ensure Stakeholder Understanding and Buy-in
One of the most common reasons for the failure of business projects is a lack of buy-in and understanding by senior management and critical stakeholders. If key decision makers do not see the value of the project’s outcomes, consider it la ow priority or do not appreciate its scope, you are likely to run into headwinds.
To preempt this, gather all stakeholders as early on in the project as possible. Share information on the project’s deliverables, benefits, timelines, budget, resources, constraints and risks. Ensure that the initial meeting has at least one representative from senior management who’ll emphasize the value of the project to the business’ overall strategic goals.
2. Formalize Project Roles
A business project will have at least one project manager. Nevertheless, no project has ever succeeded based on the effort of the project manager alone. In fact, every member of a project team performs some project management roles within their sphere of responsibility. To ensure cohesion and ownership, identify, train and formalize persons for all project roles.
Basic project management training is important during this process since some team members may have technical expertise but lack project management skills. Formalization not only minimizes the risk of work falling through the cracks but also gives team members authority to make demands on third parties.
3. Adopt Smart Scheduling for Technical Tasks
Business projects usually bring together persons of diverse skills and areas of specialization. Project managers won’t always have a deep understanding of the technical work certain team members will be tasked with. If they schedule the projects without input from this technical personnel, they may end up setting unrealistic timelines.
Technical work (such as software programming) tends to overshoot deadlines thus leading to delivery delays and budget inflation. Instead, developers and other technical staff should be given leeway to create their schedule since their own estimates are more likely to be accurate.
4. Make the Project Transparent
Persons in the finance and legal professions are familiar with the concept of Chinese walls. The flow of information between departments within the organization is restricted to avoid conflict of interests. Chinese walls are however one thing you don’t want to have when it comes to project management.
The more open the data on the project is to the entire team, the more involved they are likely to want to be and the greater the sense of achievement. Instead of only discussing a specific task with each individual member, use a cumulative flow diagram or other similar tools to show them how their work affects the rest of the project.
5. Consolidate Project Data
Transparency goes hand in hand with the consolidation of project data. Consolidation means centrally storing both data from past projects as well as information from the current one. Past projects provide an opportunity to learn since many of the systems, processes, techniques and formats will remain largely the same within the organization.
Centralizing an ongoing project’s data ensures information is easy to find whenever required. Data centralization is also a great way to leverage the knowledge of all members of the team. A person may run into information that needs correction even though it does not necessarily fall within the scope of their own assignment.
The above tips are invaluable but just a top of the iceberg. Projects vary in their nature, scale, complexity and jurisdiction which means there are numerous other best practices we could mention. What’s important is for the project manager to understand their circumstances and apply the practices that will make the project a success.
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