There are a number of moving parts, range of factors and challenges that you need to consider to ensure your project is successfully delivered.
Whilst a ‘successful project’ means different things to different people, here are some personal tips that I have found to be useful when aiming to deliver a successful project:
1. Understand the purpose of the project.
Sometimes we end up working on a project where we don’t spend enough time to understand the need for the project. Always try to understand what problem the project is aiming to solve or what efficiency will be created by implementing the project. Basically, what is driving the need for the project?
You should also understand if the project or implementation is directly linked to an organisational strategy. If it is, it will be a great motivator for you to encourage your project team to deliver a successful project. You can gain this information by either reviewing a project business case or project charter.
A project sponsor is generally the person who you will be reporting to during the project. I have found it extremely beneficial to meet with project sponsor at an early stage as this helps you to establish clear goals and set expectations to help successfully deliver the project.
You should build a good relationship with the project sponsor and understand how engaged they will be during the project. They may be part of a steering committee team as well, so it is essential to build rapport with them, keep them informed of any obstacles or challenges and gain their support.
3. Identify who your key stakeholders are.
Stakeholders are parties that could be impacted by the project or someone that might have influence on the project. You should identify who your key stakeholders are, ensure there is a high level of stakeholder engagement, manage stakeholder expectations and monitor the stakeholder engagement closely.
You should take your stakeholders on the journey of the project. They generally have a keen interest in your project so make sure to listen to their thoughts, understand their requirements properly ensuring they are all documented and agreed to.
`The ability of the project manager to correctly identify and engage all stakeholders in an appropriate way can mean the difference between success and failure on the project.
4. Building your team.
As a project manager, it is crucial that you have the right people in the project team who have the right competencies and attitude and can engage with stakeholders effectively when required.
You need to ensure your team members understand the project deliverables and that you have set clear expectations for each of them. This will make your job easier when you hold catch up sessions with your team members to discuss individual deliverables. Each milestone and critical path needs to be clearly articulated in the project plan so everyone is on the same page. Remember, there shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to key milestones and deliverables.
Keep your team motivated by effectively communicating on the progress of the project and ensure you are providing support to the team. Don’t forget to celebrate the small successes as those successes can lead to bigger achievements.
5. Requirements gathering.
Requirements gathering is a critical step for the success of a project. This requires strong engagement with your stakeholders to understand, gather and document exactly what is required from the project. An experienced Business Analyst should be available within the project team to assist in this step.
Once documentation is completed, ensure business stakeholders have the opportunity to review the requirements and the project team should obtain a formal sign off from key stakeholders before any technical work commences.
6. Planning for your project.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
A clear project plan needs to be developed by the project team which outlines key tasks, accountabilities, deliverable dates, milestones, critical path etc.
Once you have developed your project plan, make sure you create the project baseline before further changes to the scope starts to happen.
Whilst you may be accountable for the project plan, it will ultimately require involvement from your entire project team. I would also suggest that it be shared with the steering committee to ensure they know what the project scope is and they can refer back to the project plan during future meetings.
Planning leads to better project management and utilisation of resources effectively on the project thus project success.
7. Communication both internally and externally.
As a project manager, you need to have the ability to communicate effectively and clearly to everyone on the project team, both internal and external stakeholders.
Whilst it is generally quicker to send an email or have a phone call, try communicating face-to-face as much as possible, as this will give you an opportunity to further build rapport with your stakeholders.
To ensure transparency, send weekly updates on the project’s progress to stakeholders and the project team.
Communication is also a key requirement when obstacles or challenges arise as you need to ensure they are promptly escalated to your project sponsor for a quick resolution.
8. Managing your vendors.
It’s always a good idea to build a good relationship with your vendors who are accountable for designing your system. Ensure that you have clearly articulated to your vendors what is that your organisation needs in the new system or project.
Provide your vendors with clear requirements documents. Ensure they have agreed, provided their feedback and the requirements has been agreed by both parties.
Always treat your vendor’s with respect and they will go that extra mile to ensure their clients are happy. This is a personal experience.
9. Key documents for your project.
Ensure you document everything that needs to happen on the project. The following are some key documents that I have used over the years in projects that I have managed:
- A project plan;
- Project schedule documenting key tasks, milestones and critical path;
- A roles and responsibilities matrix;
- RAID/Risk register;
- Project Progress Report for your stakeholders;
- Steering Committee Pack;
- Change Management Plan; and
- Stakeholder Matrix.
10. Post Implementation Review
It’s important to learn from your previous projects. Learning and growing is part of everyone’s life and the more you learn from each project, the more successful you will be in your next project delivery.