Project Management: Nine Steps to a successful project
It can be done. Project management can be a success. You can get a project completed on time and on budget. As successful project is one that finished on time and on budget, and that met quality standards. And it is one on which no one suffered a heart attack caused by strain or stress.
To launch our new project management services we give you what it takes to get a project planned and launched.
1. Define the project
It is vital to define exactly what the project is and its desired deliverables. Then you can break down the plan into activities and start to think about how the activities depend on each other. At this stage the number of activities might be small. The first attempt might only highlight the major stages of a project. These can be broken down later on.
2. Build the plan
Build the plan a bit at a time. Start with an overall plan which can be easily adapted. You may require several iterations until you get a plan which delivers the project on time and to budget. The plan must be agreed by all involved. Next you can start to build in more detail into each activity.
3. Get the plan prepared
This part depends on the system you are using. There are several specialist software tools which can draw up a nice plan. However, if the project is not complex or if you are new to the specialist software a barchart or a flow diagram will usually be sufficient.
4. Get the plan agreed
This involves running through the plan with the senior managers of the organisation and explaining why activities develop in the way that the do. This will almost certainly involve showing them the project plan – see point 3, which shows the activities making up the entire project against a time scale. Our key advice is that where possible much of this is undertaken in steps 2 and 3 when the plan is built and prepared.
Remember successful projects have motivated teams running them, and motivation can be created by setting realistic targets that the project team believe in.
5. Disseminate and communicate
The time has come to distribute the copies of the agreed plan to all interested parties. The important piece here is that where possible give people the pieces of the project that relate to them. If the buyer wants a bar chart showing only procurement activities give them that. If the builder is only interested in getting the structure erected, get a suitable plan for them. Too much information can be worse than too little.
Project meetings can be organised to run through the project plans and explain to people why things should run to the plan you have proposed.
6. Do some work!
All this planning is less than useful unless some works gets done! Never forget that planning is not an end itself – it is a means to an end and that end is a successfully completed project, on time and to budget.
Now that a plan has been agreed and accepted by the individuals involved you can ask them to update you on progress. This can be done formally in meetings or informally through discussions. On successfully delivered projects teams meet regularly to discuss progress or issues and if necessary to amend plans.
8. Repeat step 7 as required.
Try to continue the update process on a regular basis. Good project plans will have set meetings planned either every week or month or at key milestones within the project.
9. Receive congratulations
These congratulations are justly due to you at the end of the project. The project has been delivered on time, to budget and at the necessary quality without stakeholders deserting or clients abandoning ship.