Shifting the focus from inputs and outputs to outcomes and value makes all the difference.
As Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, the world’s champion of project management and strategy implementation, published in Harvard Business Review “The Project Economy had arrived”. Projects are the driving force behind short-term performance and long-term value creation, and this is a global phenomenon.
Work is getting more and more organized around projects, executed by teams of professionals who are selected according to the skills needed to complete their tasks. This means that companies hire people for projects instead of trying to find candidates who fit broad job descriptions.
All of this is connected to changes in the way we work – first with globalization and new technologies, then with the overhaul brought about by the covid-19 pandemic. Big or small, all projects are temporary and comprised of a team with a set of goals, a budget, and a schedule.
According to PMI, project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people. The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market – these are all examples of projects.
How to improve project management for a successful project delivery?
Project management is the art of achieving project goals within the given constraints of time, budget, and scope. The successful delivery of a project requires careful planning, effective communication, and efficient execution. Let’s dive in:
Identify: what is the purpose and who are the people
This is the foundation of the project, the basis to a happy end: having a clear picture of why we are doing the project (purpose), how much it will cost (investment), what advantages and impact it is expected to generate, who is accountable (sponsorship), and who will benefit and be affected (stakeholders). You’d be surprised at how many times this initial information is overlooked and compromises the success of the overall project.
Choose: who is the best professional to manage the project
You need to define the resources: who will manage the project and which skills are needed to deliver it. The project manager is essential to make sure the team is involved, committed and meets the goals set above. The best leader uses a variety of skills and techniques to motivate team members, ensure good interaction between all parts, and timely surpass any problems that may arise.
Determine: what are the milestones and how they will be evaluated
When talking about the effective creation of the project, it’s important to specify what exactly it will produce, build or deliver, how and when the work will be carried out, and how we will engage stakeholders and manage the risks. Also, don’t forget to set milestones at which progress will be checked and evaluated (how we will know the project is successful).
Communicate: give regular status and understand how team members operate
To avoid pitfalls and ensure cohesiveness on an end-to-end project, give regular status so that everyone on the team is on the same page, shares common knowledge and realizes how work is evolving. This way no one is caught off guard by surprise changes. Manage closely, be empathic, lead by example and keep track of what’s going on to take action on time and efficiently.
Test and collect feedback: how will the deliverables fare when put to the proof at each phase
Testing, asking for feedback, adjusting, testing… Deliverables should be verified at each of the milestones/sprints to make sure they are aligned with the expectations initially defined. Flexibility, agility and adaptability are key. Of course, this is only possible if team members are empowered with everything they need to proficiently perform their work.
How to Evaluate the Success of a Project?
As a project manager, it’s important to evaluate the success of your project. This can help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that you deliver high-quality projects in the future. Here are some key metrics you can use to evaluate the success of your project:
Completion on Time
Completing a project on time is one of the most important metrics for project success. This means delivering all the project deliverables within the agreed-upon timeframe. If you have completed the project within the deadline, it indicates that your project plan was well-designed and executed effectively.
Meeting Project Objectives
Meeting project objectives is another key metric for project success. This means that the project has delivered the intended results and achieved the desired outcomes. You can measure this metric by comparing the project deliverables with the project objectives defined in the project plan.
Staying Within Budget
Staying within budget is another important metric for project success. This means that you have delivered the project within the allocated budget. You can measure this metric by comparing the actual project costs with the budget defined in the project plan.
Customer satisfaction is a crucial metric for project success, especially if the project is being delivered to external clients. This means that the clients are happy with the project deliverables and the overall project experience. You can measure this metric by conducting surveys or obtaining feedback from the clients.
Team satisfaction is an often-overlooked metric for project success. This means that the project team is happy with the project process and the final results. You can measure this metric by conducting team feedback sessions or obtaining individual feedback from team members.
Evaluating the success of a project is essential for improving project management processes and delivering high-quality projects in the future. By measuring completion on time, meeting project objectives, staying within budget, customer satisfaction, and team satisfaction, you can identify areas for improvement and ensure that your projects meet the expectations of stakeholders and clients. Remember to evaluate the success of your project regularly and adapt to any changes that may arise.
What are the common mistakes to avoid in project management?
As a project manager, avoiding common mistakes is crucial for the success of a project. Here are some common mistakes to avoid in project management:
Lack of Clear Goals and Objectives
One of the most common mistakes in project management is not having clear goals and objectives. Without clear goals, it is impossible to measure the success of the project and ensure that the project is aligned with the organisation’s overall strategy.
Inadequate planning is another common mistake in project management. Planning is essential for identifying project risks, defining project timelines and budgets, and assigning responsibilities. Without adequate planning, projects are likely to face delays, cost overruns, and quality issues.
Poor communication can have a significant impact on project success. It can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and missed deadlines. Project managers should establish clear communication channels and ensure that all stakeholders are informed of project progress and any changes.
Lack of Risk Management
Risk management is critical in project management. Identifying potential risks and developing a mitigation plan can help to prevent project delays, cost overruns, and quality issues.
Scope creep refers to changes to the project scope that are not managed effectively. It can lead to project delays, cost overruns, and quality issues. Project managers should establish a change control process and ensure that any changes to the project scope are approved and managed effectively.
Inadequate Resource Allocation
Inadequate resource allocation can lead to delays and cost overruns. Project managers should ensure that they have sufficient resources, including human resources, equipment, and materials, to deliver the project on time and within budget.
Failure to Track Progress
Tracking progress is crucial in project management. It helps to identify any delays or issues early on and enables project managers to take corrective action. Project managers should establish clear performance indicators and regularly track progress against these indicators.
By avoiding these common mistakes, project managers can increase the likelihood of project success and deliver high-quality projects on time and within budget.
Simply put, when meeting budget, deadline and quality requirements as well as the purpose that was behind it, the project was successfully delivered 😉 And remember, shifting the focus from inputs and outputs to outcomes and value makes all the difference.
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