A major reason behind the failure of most projects in any business environment is often the lack of understanding by the project team members of the actual business drivers for creating a new product or service and what results project leaders are expecting from the delivery of the solution. Even the most simple of IT, manufacturing, and construction projects are best served when providing to their teams, a clear scope and critical success criteria for completion, prior to developing or constructing their solution. For example, the purpose to build a new bridge is obvious, but does your team understand what a successfully completed bridge project looks like? How will you measure that? Is it simply to have a standing edifice in the end or are their additional specifically targeted goals such as timelines, budgets, new technologies, political influences or cultural considerations? Different companies will have different ways of managing their projects which is what separates them from their competition, but at the core, there are basic questions that companies need to ask themselves to ensure that completion of the project and delivering the expected solution is one-hundred-percent successful.
1. Understand Your Stakeholders?
Most projects at work operate in a very client-supplier manner, where we, being the supplier of necessary services, get paid by the client to successfully undertake a project whose success helps the client in some specific way. So clearly, in such cases, the primary stake holder of the project is the client, and even though he might not have the technical expertise necessary to fully comprehend such a task, it still needs their approval at all major stages. Depending on the skill and role of the chief stakeholder, a project can be simply monitored by that individual or it could be managed closely. Either way, identifying the difference, understanding what data the stakeholder monitors and values is important as it can determine the success or failure of the project.
2. Necessity of the Project?
There could be a number of reasons why a project is being planned and executed. It can range from being a necessity to stay competitive in the marketplace to being an add-on task due to current availability of resources. Not all ideas are worthy of being acted upon and each one should be looked at both independently and in comparison to a portfolio of other potential project investments. Questions that might be asked include: Does the project fit in your current suite of products or services? Is the organization prepared to diversify and take on additional risk to compete in a new sector of the marketplace? Do we have the skills in place to deliver a solution or will the cost to develop or hire that talent too high for the estimated return? There are any number of questions that could and should be asked when taking on even the smallest of projects as it will divert resources towards a new goal – any of which an organization should be prepared to manage and sustain into the future.
3. Project Scope?
Scope of a project basically implies the list of goals, costs, tasks and deliverables and deadlines associated with a project. When all these goals are met, then it can be said that “Yes, the project is a success”. There are mainly two types of scope – high level scope, which is part of the project charter, and low level scope, which is defined in the document listing the business requirements. For primary completion of any given project, it is however the deliverables that needs to be fulfilled for successful completion, just in case the rest of the variables are tied up due to time, resources or paperwork.
4. Change in Scope?
Change is inevitable. Just like everything else in business, a project too will undergo some changes in its life. Successful organizations manage change whereas unsuccessful organizations can be brought down by the inability to address even a small change in scope. One of the key components of successful project management is an organization’s ability to formally identify, react to and manage change using a formal change management process. There is no doubt that application of a change process will have eventual impact on the product or service regardless of the industry. Change management does not necessarily have to be complex to be useful but it needs to be adaptable enough to address the impact to quality, cost and schedule for all involved. Coming to an agreement at the inception of a project as to how changes to scope will be managed will no doubt be a major criteria for project success.
5. Organization and Communication?
Depending on the size of a company, the communication between the different members, supervisors and stake holders can vary. It could be a flat structure where all members answer to one project leader or it could be a matrix setup that provides for two or more functional and divisional lines of project responsibility. A third option might include a structure where the bulk of the work is performed by subcontractors. Each of these structures has its own pros and cons. Depending on the nature of the project it is wise to adjust accordingly. Holding regular status meeting and using processes and applications that make needed information available to the appropriate participants is key in delivering a successful project that meets the needs of all involved.
6. What about Risks?
Any project has to contend with having some level of risk. Attempting to identifying risk before commencing the actual project as much as possible is very important. Equally important is having a process for identifying and managing in flight project risks. Risks can stem from anywhere: including poorly defined product or design requirements, inaccurate cost or schedule estimation, lack of technical experience, or market conditions, etc. By using a risk management process with key components of identification, assessing, mitigating, monitoring, and informing about risk, you improve your opportunity to reduce risk impact and improve the quality and performance of the project.
Once all these questions are addressed, you and your team are ready to handle any project that has been assigned to you.
Just remember, once you are ready to begin, you are not alone. If your IT department does not have limitless time and resources, a project management solution like SpringBoard 7.0’s cloud portal can be quite powerful. It will free you from the heavy lifting of Cloud-based PM software, data management, reporting, training and more. In the end, the goal is to boost productivity and get a higher return on your investment of time and resources.