Successful Project Management
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Here we conclude the research by deriving the best possible practice for a successful project management. For any project to be successful we need to understand what the project is supposed to achieve. Deciding what the real objectives are will help to determine how you go about planning and managing the project.
The project manager also needs to define the scope of the project. Deciding which activities are within the scope or out of scope of the project has a big impact on the amount of work which needs to be performed during the project.
An understanding of who are the stakeholders is also crucial if suppose we are going to enlist their support and understand what each person expects to be delivered from the project. Once scope and objectives defined , we will need to get the stakeholders to review them and agree to them. So, defining the scope and objectives is the first of any project management best practices.
The second best practices is to define the deliverables.To achieve the desired outcome from the project, define what things (or products) are to be delivered by the end of the project. If the project is an advertising campaign for a new chocolate bar, then one of the deliverables might be the artwork for a newspaper advert. So, a need to decide what tangible things are to be delivered and document in enough detail what these things are. At the end of the day, someone will end up doing the work to produce the deliverable, so it needs to be clearly and unambiguously described.
Once having defined the deliverables, we will need to have the key stakeholders review the work and get them to agree that this accurately and unambiguously reflects what they expect to be delivered from the project. Once they have agreed, we begin to plan the project. Not defining the deliverables in enough detail or clarity is often a reason why projects go wrong.
The third of project management best practices is project planning. this is the time when we define how we will achieve the desired outcome of the project embodied within the objectives and definition of deliverables. Planning requires that the project manager decides which people, resources and budget are required to complete the project. we will need to decide if we will break up our project into manageable phases, decide which products will be delivered in each phase, and decide the composition of our team. Since we have already defined the deliverables, we must decide what activities are required to produce each deliverable.tools such as Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) can be used to achieve this. A need to estimate the time and effort required to complete each activity, dependencies between related activities and decide on a realistic schedule to complete the activities. It’s always a good idea to involve the project team in estimating how long the activities will take since they will be the ones actually doing the work. Capture all of this into the project plan document. we also need to get the key stakeholders to review and agree that the plan is achievable and realistic.
When developing the project plan, a project manager is often under pressure to produce a plan which meets the (unrealistic) expectations of some of the stakeholders. It is important here that the project manager comes up with a realistic schedule – one which he/she thinks is realistic to achieve. We will be doing nobody a favour if you succumb to pressure and agree to deliver the project in a totally unrealistic schedule.
Even the best made project plans are useless unless they have been communicated effectively to the team. Everyone on the team needs to know exactly what is expected of them, what their responsibilities are, and what they are accountable for. Project communications planning is the fourth of project management best practices.
A project communications plan consists of a simple matrix which lists each stakeholder, their information requirements during the project, the names of the people who will produce that information, the frequency and method of communication. For example, we might identify that a key stakeholder requires a written weekly status report of project progress. This report will be produced by the project manager, and will be circulated via email to the appropriate stakeholders. Project communications planning is vital to ensure that everyone concerned gets the right information at the right time from the right person.
The fifth project management best practice is tracking the scope, schedule and cost.Once our project is underway and we have an agreed plan, we will need to constantly monitor the actual progress against the planned progress. To do this, we will need to get reports of progress from the team members who are actually doing the work. we will need to record any variations between the actual and planned cost, schedule and scope. we will need to report any variations to our manager and key stakeholders and take corrective actions if the variations get too large.
There are lots of ways in which we can adjust the plan in order to get back on track (rearrange the order of tasks, assign tasks in parallel if the variation is small, or add more staff or reduce the scope if the variation is very large).
The project manager must constantly juggle three things: cost, scope and schedule. If he/she increases one of these, then one of the other elements will inevitably need to be changed as well. So, for a project which is running behind schedule to recover so it can be delivered to it’s original planned schedule, the budget might be increased by employing more staff (although this invariably never achieves the desired result of reducing the time left to complete the project), or the scope will need to be reduced. It is the juggling of these three elements – known as the project triangle – that typically causes a project manager to tear their hair out in frustration.
All projects change in some way and managing changes is the next of project management best practices. Often, a key stakeholder in the middle of a project will change their mind about what the project needs to deliver. On projects of longer duration, the business environment has often changed since the start of the project, so assumptions made at the beginning of the project may no longer be valid. This often results in the scope or deliverables of the project needing to be changed. If a project manager simply accepted all of these changes into the project, the project would inevitably be delivered late (and perhaps would never ever be completed) and would inevitably go over budget.
By managing changes, the project manager can make decisions about whether or not to incorporate the changes immediately or in the future, or to reject them. This increases the chances of project success because the project manager controls how the changes are incorporated, can allocate resources accordingly and can plan when and how the changes are made. Not managing changes effectively is often cited as a major reason why projects fail.
The final best practice is about managing risks. Risks are any events which can adversely affect the successful outcome of the project. Some of the risks are staff lacking the technical skills to perform the work properly, hardware not being delivered on time, the control room being at risk of flooding in a major thunderstorm and many others. Risks will vary from project to project but it is important to identify the main risks to a project as soon as possible and to plan the actions necessary to avoid the risk, or, if the risk cannot be avoided, to at least mitigate the risk in order to lessen its impact if it does occur. This is what is known as risk management. Not managing risks effectively is also often cited as a major reason why projects fail.
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