Project Management – a term we are all familiar with. It is the process that guides you through the planning and execution of a project, event, task, school project, etc. to a successful outcome. Project management is what gets most things accomplished in the business world whether it is construction, an engineering project, a software development build, or even an event. We are all project managers at some point but the scope of certain projects can be really daunting to some. We thought we’d list a few tips here to help you achieve a successful outcome for your project; but remember, this barely scratches the surface. In upcoming blogs, we will dive deeper into the methodologies of project management so be sure to check back here often.
The first step in planning for your project is to define who the stakeholders are and what their roles and responsibilities should be. Schedule a discovery meeting with the group to discuss:
- How will feedback be handled
- Who signs off on approvals
- What is the final deadline
- What are the specific end-project goals
This leads you to defining the scope, budget and timeline of your project. During the discovery meeting, you should also outline the priorities to enable you to achieve certain milestones within the timeline. This will ensure you meet specific goals within the project lifecycle. Lastly, define the deliverables, when they will be needed, and build your project schedule.
Open dialogue with your team is critical during every phase of any project. It’s important for the team to have input into the plan, to understand the expectations, to agree on the approach and to buy into the goals. This also helps to promote trust within the team and foster a “let’s work together” philosophy.
There are multiple layers to communication throughout a project and keeping these in mind can help alleviate some of the pitfalls that can occur.
- With whom do you need to communicate? – the team, clients, vendors, subcontractors, etc.
- At what points within the scheduling do you need to communicate? – FYIs, upcoming risks, budget adjustments, scheduling issues and so on.
- What is the best way to communicate? – email, status meetings, how often/with whom
- How does the company culture impact your communication? Hierarchy, language barriers, cultural differences
- Will your meetings be one-on-one, short or long status update meetings, virtual meetings?
The Project Management Institute has a very informative paper that covers communication in much more detail and is definitely worth the read.
Be Prepared to be a Problem Solver
You will need to rely on your problem-solving skills throughout the project lifecycle. Strong analytical skills are necessary to resolve problems that may arise in order to be better prepared to mitigate the risks. But remember, not all solutions are “in the box.” You may need to stretch your thinking to be innovative and creative to determine alternative solutions. Testing or predicting the results of your solutions can sometimes be best achieved by collaborating with others especially when analyzing additional costs, changes to the timeline, and if there are any barriers to successful implementation.
Be the Leader that Motivates
It’s been said that managing a project team is sometimes like herding cats. I’m sure many of you can relate to this. Keeping track of the schedule, being the problem solver and communicating with everyone are all critical components but if you can’t motivate your team, it will be so much harder to implement the necessary processes to make it all happen.
Knowing your team, building a relationship of trust, delegating properly, and empowering your team to learn, share their ideas and feel like they are contributing goes a long way. Being flexible and open to the team and their ideas results in cooperation and successful outcomes.
It’s Not Over ‘Till It’s Over
Conducting a post-project review to evaluate what went well and where the shortfalls were will ensure constant improvement in your processes. Learn as many lessons as possible so mistakes are not repeated in the future. The review should not be a complaint or who-to-blame session but should focus on the successful aspects of the project and opportunities for improvement … how to do it better next time. All the stakeholders should be involved and open discussion should be encouraged. The information gathered at these reviews provide useful data that should be considered as you approach future projects. Post-project reviews are just as important as planning, budgeting, scheduling, goal setting and feedback from those involved will help hone skills for all.
The tips above outline how to work through a project at a high level. The real key, however, is monitoring your performance throughout the project in order to make sure you are making progress in the right direction. We track metrics during the lifecycle of a project to ensure all aspects are aligned and to monitor trends. With our performance measurement baselines, we know the areas or groups that are meeting expectations or areas that may need attention. This is how we bring Progress Through Performance.
Our experienced project management professionals at Baseline Controls would be happy to discuss your next project with you. Our services cover multiple industries and we employ proven processes that get the job done. Contact us today for more information.