When taking on new projects, smart project management makes a world of difference in keeping a project moving towards its goals. To manage a project successfully, you must consider who should be included in the project, what is the scope and the objectives to be met. However, too often, organizations rushes into new exciting initiatives without the necessary plan or resources in place. This limits the chances for success and sustainable growth.
Here are six best practices that lead to effective project management.
6 steps to follow for smart project management
1. Outline the scope and objectives for your project
Before starting a project, everybody involved must understand the scope and objectives. A project scope defines the boundary of the project. Deciding what is in or out of scope will determine the amount of work, which needs to be performed. This will help your team to know exactly what to expect from the project.
Therefore, it is also important that all goals and objectives are communicated to key people before a project starts. These key people can include team members, managers, sponsors, clients and users. Deciding on the real objectives will help you plan the project more effectively. Once the scope and objectives have been defined, get the stakeholders to review and agree to them, before the project gets approved.
It is crucial, that you spend time developing the scope and objectives of a project before you start the work in order to keep your team on the right track. Furthermore, make sure deliverables, objectives and quality standards are clear to everyone working on it.
2. Create a detailed work plan
Having a work plan is crucial to the success of your project. Because, a detailed work plan serves as a starting point for everyone as it states who is supposed to do which tasks and when. In addition, it should include the essential information, job responsibilities, budget and deadlines. Beside this, it is a good idea to involve the project team in estimating how long each activity will take. This helps project members to check off their project tasks and meet deadlines. The work plan must be accessible to all people involved in the project.
At the onset of your project, you should make sure that your team and stakeholders understand what is available related to the project as well as established guidelines to keep the project on track.
3. Avoid misunderstandings with effective communication
Communication is a crucial part of every project. Too often, team members are just given a vague idea about the requirements of the project. Every team member needs to know their responsibilities, since they are the ones who will be working on the project. Therefore, you should always communicate objectives to everyone involved, and keep them informed about changes in the scope or developments happening in the project.
Miscommunication could lead to delay in deadlines and, worst case, escalate to failed results. Thus, keep team members involved and informed at every stage of the project to avoid misunderstandings.
4. Monitor and track progress
Once the project has started, it is possible to lose track of one thing or the other. Thus, you must monitor and track the overall project progress. As such, you can stay on top of issues that could show up at the last moment. If results are not as expected, you can adjust the work plan in various ways to get the project back on track.
Most often, project managers end up juggling cost, scope and schedule. If one element changes, it will inevitably change the others. It is juggling of the three elements that is known as the project triangle.
5. Change management process
Even with a scope and detailed work plan in place, there will inevitably be changes to a project. It can be stakeholders that change their mind about what must be delivered. Once a change is about to happen, it is important to assess the change and what it means for the project. A project manager can decide whether to incorporate the change immediately, in the future or to reject it. Thus, developing a proactive change management process keeps everyone on the same page and the project rolling.
If you do not manage changes in an effective way, it is often the reason why projects fail. Effective change management lets your team move forward with change confidently, and keeps your project on a path to success.
6. Be aware of risks
Risks can adversely affect the success of a project. Type of risks can vary for each project, however; the main risks to a project should always be identified as soon as possible. This is where risk management comes to play. It is important to have a plan on how to avoid the risk, or, if the risk cannot be avoided, to mitigate the risks to reduce its impact. For each risk, you should estimate its potential impact on the project. You should even address the smallest of problems before it snowballs into something big that can affect the schedule, budget, team morale and the quality of deliverables.
On that note…
Managing a project can be challenging. If you approach it with a structured work plan, it will help you handle whatever issue you come across. The above best practices are an outline of the processes you need to have in place to maximize the efficiency and give your team the best chances of success.