Projects tend to come and go, whereas the very best project managers can leave a lasting legacy – if they follow a proven recipe, a guideline of what constitutes quality from those in the know.
Tony McManus, MD from project management specialist McManus Consulting, part of the collaborative effort behind McMethod.net, which is based on Microsoft and Nintex products, believes there are certain tips that ought to be followed to improve the likelihood of successful projects.
McManus refers to a blog posted under the McMethod umbrella. He notes and endorses the tips and believes the combination of as many of these as possible leads to a far more effective strategy to rollout successful projects.
Using this framework, McManus includes his thoughts and views to draft the following guideline advice:
* Projects need to be undertaken only when there is a valid business reason to do so. Projects which are launched with no business backing or substance behind them will eventually fail – destroying value in the process.
* Make sure you have the right sponsor on the project – without this, you will have an uphill battle trying to secure resources and commitment to the project.
* Time spent planning is invaluable. The old carpenter’s adage of “measure thrice, cut once” applies.
* Involve your team in planning – the Project Manager does not define the project schedule in isolation, but facilitates the planning sessions and gives each resource the opportunity to commit to reasonable delivery timeframes – and then holds them to those estimates.
* Keep it simple. When developing your project schedule, try and make it read like a well structured story with each activity or group of activities following an easily understood logic flow – one that a non project management person would be able to understand.
* project management is 90% communication and 10% of everything else.
* Communicate clearly and early: If something is going wrong, let it be known as soon as possible. No-one likes unpleasant surprises.
* Establish regular progress meetings and provide succinct, objective feedback – try to limit these to half an hour.
* Break all activities on your schedule down as far as possible. A maximum of five (5) days per activity is a handy rule of thumb – and set a baseline.
* Identify clear accountability per task by using this simple method for defining tasks to produce each deliverable (e.g. Business Requirements): Conduct Business Requirements Workshop (All participants assigned); Produce Draft Business Requirements (Person A); Review Business Requirements (Person B); Finalise Business Requirements (Person A); and Approve Business Requirements (Person B or C) – remember that the deliverable is only considered complete when all the sub-tasks are complete.
* Manage your project as if you need to defend it in court one day – document everything.
In a nutshell, for projects to be successful, they need to have a sound business reason behind them, they need to be carefully planned, the people delivering them should have a say about what needs to be done and how long it should take to do it. All participants need to be held accountable and they must be involved as far as possible throughout.