Project management is an art and science of planning, implementing, and controlling the project, to meet the goals, milestones and objectives of the organisation. Unfortunately, mere initiation of a project does not guarantee its success. A project manager need to manage competing demands and trade-offs between the desired results of the project (scope, performance, quality) and the natural constraints of the project (time and cost). The project manager have many activities to perform, challenges to overcome, and responsibilities to uphold, over the life of the project. Independent of the nature of the project , the industry or the experience as a project manager, there are some important aspects that need to be built upon to be a prepared and successful project manager.
The following are key best practices which should be followed to ensure maximum success for your project:
1. Defining Clear Objectives
A Project is a tool to accomplish certain objectives that align with the client organisation’s strategic objectives. This objective provides the very reason to undertake the project. Your Project objectives need to be SMART –
- Specific: Define your objectives clearly, in detail, with no room for misinterpretation.
- Measurable: State the measures and performance specifications you’ll use to determine whether you’ve met your objectives.
- Achievable: Set challenging objectives that encourage people to stretch beyond their comfort zones but still achievable.
- Realistic: Set objectives that are relevant to project team.
- Time sensitive: Include the date by which the objectives to be achieved.
The project should be terminated immediately if its objectives cannot be accomplished.
2. Managing the Project Triple Constraints
- Scope represents the functionality, work to be performed, specifications and detail to be delivered to the client.
- Time refers to the schedule
- Cost relates to resources, people, equipment, facilities and money
A project manager needs to manage the project by finding correct equilibrium between these factors. If any one factor changes, at least one other factor is likely to be affected. For example, if the schedule is shortened i.e. the time to do the work is made shorter and deadline brought forward, often the budget requires an increase as there will need to be additional resources to complete the same amount of work to make the new deadline. Alternatively, the scope or quality may be reduced to deliver a product in less time for the same budget. A project manager needs to have control on these variables and their behavior over the project lifecycle.
3. Managing Stakeholders
Every project has multiple stakeholders which either exerts influence over the project’s objectives and outcomes, or get affected by it. These include project sponsor, steering committee members, project client, project team, customers, vendors, government etc. It is essential for the project management team to identify the stakeholders, determine their requirements and expectations, and to the extent possible, manage their influence in relation to the project requirements to ensure a successful project.
4. Managing Communications
This is one of the most important functions of successful project management. It specifies the activities and tools required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval and ultimate disposition of project information. The major activities involved here are Stakeholder Identification, Communications Planning, Information Distribution, Performance Reporting, and Managing Stakeholders Expectations. The project manager must establish clear lines of communications both with upper management as well as within the project team and other stakeholders.
5. Risk Management
Risk management helps in addressing the risks which can potentially impact your project whether by cost, time, resource, quality, or commercial reputation. It involves risk management planning, identification, analysis, responses, and monitoring and control measures to ensure if risks are identified, that they are dealt with in a proactive manner.
There are numerous other best practices available for project management. However, the above 5 best practices will help develop a holistic view of the environment in which the project operates.