Managing or playing a role in a project is something that every professional will have to do at some point during their career. Irrespective of the degree of project’s complexity, it can be quite challenging. Handling multiple tasks, people, responsibilities and deadlines can easily keep even experienced managers on their toes. There are many methodologies to ease the project management process, but without a solid foundation it will eventually succumb to failure. Let’s now go through the best practices for a successful project.
- Project Scope, Schedule and Budget
The first task as a project manager is to understand what needs to be achieved out of the project. Project scope sets the boundary of the project and to understand it we need to take into account who the stake holders are, what are their expectations and what kind of support they can provide. For example in a web application development project, the scope can include design, development and testing of the app. But, the integration with some third-party service may be out of scope.
Scope, schedule and budget allocated for the project are the three inter-related factors which will have crucial impact on the outcome. The illustration given below depicts the trade-off among scope, budget and schedule. If one of them is affected, it will have an impact on the other two.
The key takeaway is to have crystal clear understanding of these three and make sure that they all are in tandem with each other till the completion of the project.
Once the scope is set, the manager will need to set the deliverables. For example, a digital advertising agency might have the following deliverables for a social media management project:
- Setting up social media pages and claiming the custom URL
- Content Calendar
- Social media ad campaigns
- Monitoring and responding to audiences
- Social media analytics and reporting
In short, there must be a detailed documentation about project deliverables and the same should be signed off by the stake holders.
Project plans help managers in estimating budget, time for each deliverable and assigning them to team members. To create an effective plan, there should be a Work Breakdown Structure. The project manager should breakdown the project deliverables into tasks and sub-tasks. Now, the following factors must be taken into account to proceed with the plan:
- Inter-dependency of the tasks
- Priority of tasks
- Time and effort required for each task
Depending upon these three factors, the manager should allocate suitable resources and create realistic milestones. This will indicate key dates on which various tasks will be completed and help with the management of resources (both time and team members) efficiently.
Communication is one of the most important element of any project. It covers whole gamut of project level efforts from delegating, motivating, guiding to reporting back to the stakeholders. A project communication plan will cover the following:
- Information about communication channel, reporting hierarchy of team members, frequency and format of communication.
- Improving team performance by clearly communicating the project objective and tasks to be completed
- Keeping project stake holders in sync with the progress and criticality of various milestones
Project manager also needs to make sure that micromanagement of all aspects of project and excessive communication must be avoided.
- Reporting and Tracking Progress
After commencement of the project, manager needs to keep a track of the progress and make sure that it is in accordance with the plan. The report given by the team members should be used to measure the variation in terms of budget, schedule and scope. In case of any variation from the proposed plan, project manager must communicate the same to the stake holders and take necessary corrective action to bring the project back on track.
The assumptions made from the very beginning of the project may not always hold good till the end of the project. Because of changing business scenarios the project scope might change and it would invariably lead to change in deliverables. Thus, the project manager should have a keen eye on these changes and take decision about whether or not to include the deliverables or post-pone the deliverables to future releases. Incorporating all the changes in the project will make the budget and schedule go overboard and result in a failed project.
- Project Management Application
There are plethora of options available when it comes to project management applications. In order to choose the right tool the manager needs to have deep understanding of business requirements, constraints and resources.
At the primary level, the project management application should have features to breakdown the project into tasks, facilitate team collaboration, time tracking and cost estimation. TeamWave Projects application has been developed by keeping in mind these factors to help small and medium size businesses manage their projects. You can have a sneak peek at the features of the application from the link given below:
Adopting the best practices mentioned above can eliminate many roadblocks and save the project from going kaput. These can be considered as effective starting points and their application will surely lay a robust foundation for a successful project.