The fourth industrial revolution has brought with it a whole lot of change. Changing technology, changing markets and changing business environment has led to more competition, intense projects and the need for speed—all of which are essential for organizations to adopt, if they want to succeed. Projects are getting pan geographical, large and highly visible with distributed teams, tight schedules and volatile requirements.
In order to manage challenging projects, Project Managers must follow the right principles of project management and create the right structure. In this blog, we attempt to look at the best principles of project management and about leveraging them to ensure project success.
As geographies get closer and projects get more resource, technology, requirements and budget intensive, project managers are under a whole lot of stress to ensure that things go smoothly, and projects culminate in success.
Is it easy to manage a project, especially modern projects? It is definitely not! It requires a whole lot of discipline and skilled managers to manage projects that can create value and deliver a product or service that matches the expectations of the end user. Here is where project management comes into play.
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--PMI®
Project Management tools have simplified to a great extent the project management process and made it more efficient. Project Management provides value at the strategic and organizational level, is a tool for training and education, and provides a valuable career path for millions around the world.
According to the PMI, even basic project management skills can help people from different sectors and job profiles become better at their role and ensure better value and outcomes. Project Management best practices can help deliver innovative solutions on time and within budget, helping organizations save millions of dollars on failed products. Not just in IT, but project management can also help in the field of medicine, education, infrastructure and more.
Let us look in depth at the twelve basic project management principles, which when applied help to ensure project success.
As a project manager, before getting into any project, you need to have a successful mind-set and you should strive towards project success. It is not enough to just complete the project on time and within budget but is all about delivering what the client expects and of the highest possible quality.
As a Project Manager, you are responsible for leading the project to success. Project Managers will get sponsorship, resources, set schedules and allocate budgets, ensure risk management and transparency among resources and stakeholders, and ensure smooth working of all aspects of the project.
The project manager’s toolkit must include good technical knowledge, good people skills, communication skills and an ability to ensure continuous improvement by upskilling and learning.
Commitment is necessary in whatever we do. Everyone involved in the project must be committed to reaching the project objectives and goals, and this commitment should be made even before the project is started. This requires everyone to be aligned to the project scope, goals, objectives, quality, and time.
This refers to the structure your project will take with respect to project goal, resources, and time. These three pillars provide the structure to the project and must be decided even before the project starts. By knowing the reason for the project and what it aims to achieve, you can identify how to go about it and this provides the first structure. The second structure is to identify how much time it will take to reach the objectives and the final structure is to identify the resources.
A project that is large and involves multiple stakeholders can often be chaotic and confusing. Different stakeholders may have diverse views and ideas of the project. But as project manager, you must ensure that everyone is on the same page. Also, note that defining the project is not a one-time activity but must be re-visited at intervals throughout the course of the project so that everyone is clear about the goals and objectives and stays on track.
Transparency and trust are the foundations of a good project. Transparency refers to openness not just among you and your team members but also between you and the stakeholders and customers. It is your responsibility to ensure that you keep the stakeholders clued in on what is always happening in the project. There are several tools available that allow you to communicate and share project status with your stakeholders and team members to ensure transparency.
Communication is one of the ways to ensure transparency and to gain support and funding from the stakeholders. As a project manager, you need to have excellent communication skills to lead and motivate your team and engage with stakeholders, management, and everyone else involved in the project.
A project must have well defined thresholds of progress and clearly defined milestones. Team members must be clear on what they need to achieve, the project objectives, and the goals and scope must be clearly defined and understood by all. The scope and objectives must be clearly mapped out even before the commencement of the project. Along with this there must be proper risk assessment strategies in place. Without these parameters being clarified, the project may not see the light of day.
The project development lifecycle includes all stages in the lifecycle of the project, from its inception to rollout and phasing out. Each phase of the project is an essential part of the overall success of the project and must involve careful planning and initiation. Every stage must have defined milestones and when these milestones are reached, they let you know that you are on track to project completion.
The organizational culture plays a huge role in the success or failure of the project. A positive work culture supports innovation, growth, and a positive attitude among the workforces. Team members can speak without fear and put forth their ideas and suggestions freely. Conversely, a negative work environment demotivates the entire team and increases the chances of project failure. The organization must strive to adopt a culture that is horizontal and promotes creativity and quality work. As a project manager, you must strive to maintain a positive work environment and motivate your team to deliver the best.
Risk is a part of every project. A project without associated risks is unimaginable. Risks are anything that alter the objectives or end goals of the project and can be positive or negative. But whatever the type of risk, it must be identified and mitigated to ensure that the project is not adversely affected.
Risks can be identified not just at the time of planning or project conceptualization but even during the project, where they are looked into in more detail. Once the risks are identified, it is important to resolve them on time so that they do not become a bottleneck. Risk management is an important part of project management and must be practiced by every team and organization. The team should be trained to identify risks as soon as possible to minimize losses or project failure.
A project is only as good as the team and as a team, you must be accountable and measure your deliverables and success. Measuring milestones and deliverables and checking if they align to your original estimate will help you decide if you are on track for project completion. These metrics of measurements also help you identify top performers in your team and motivate and suitably reward them for their work and diligence.
On the face of it, completing a project on time and within budget can be defined as project success. But project success goes beyond these two parameters. A project is successful if it helps deliver what the stakeholder wants, in terms of quality and requirements. Project success is about how well you have handled the stakeholders during the project—in context to being open and transparent and taking them along in the project development journey. Project success is also measured in terms of how happy your team is at the end of the project.
Let us look at some of the parameters that define project success:
Everyone wants to lead successful projects, but that is easier said than done. Just like Rome was not built in a day, projects cannot be made successful overnight but require careful planning, prepping and relentless pursuit of quality. The principles of project management define the criteria that must be pursued to ensure project success. Successful project managers strictly follow these principles and deliver successful projects and portfolios.
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