ood project management practices can’t guarantee that a project will be a success. But they can give a project a higher probability of being successful. There are a number of techniques that contribute to project management best practices. In this article, we’ll go over several of them.
Defining Measurable Success
The California Department of Food and Agriculture states the reasons for measurable success quite well, “Performance measurement improves project management and effectiveness. By focusing on project outcomes, it can define success early, execute projects more likely to generate a significant impact on the specialty crop industry, and more easily measure and demonstrate results.”
The Australian Queensland Government has the same idea and makes it easy for staff to remember by using SMART performance goals. SMART stands for:
- Specific — What will the goal accomplish?
- Measurable — How will you measure success?
- Achievable — Is it possible? Have others done it successfully?
- Relevant/realistic — What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal, and what will the result be?
- Timed — What is the established completion date, and does that completion date create a practical sense of urgency?
If you don’t have a quantitative method for measuring how far you’ve come, how will you ever know how much progress (if any) you are making in any given timeframe?
Measuring goals allow you to check progress. If you don’t have a quantitative method for measuring how far you’ve come, how will you ever know how much progress (if any) you are making in any given timeframe?
Setting Stakeholder Expectations
Identifying all stakeholders is the first step in managing them and setting expectations. This includes major and minor stakeholders. Every stakeholder can have influence over a project. Downplaying a minor stakeholder is a mistake.
“You are more apt to run into an overlapping set of stakeholders—some of whom you may not even be aware of—who may not have direct involvement in a project but can slow down or even stop a project. Often this happens because their jobs are to manage the process and system of constraints... For example, about 25 years ago, I was working on a healthcare project in which we created an administrative rule in order to let private sector providers provide services. Out of the blue, the state auditor came in and said that the rule had been established incorrectly, and therefore everything built on that rule was negated. Your job is to make sure you color within the lines,” David Wirick, Project Management Professional at Ohio State University and author of ‘Managing Public Sector Projects’, said to Profit Magazine.
There are four processes in managing stakeholder expectations:
- Identify Stakeholders
- Plan Stakeholder Engagement
- Manage Stakeholder Engagement
- Monitor Stakeholder Engagement
Consistent communication is the key tool in managing stakeholder expectations.
Planning determines how the project will interact with stakeholders. Management is periodic meetings with stakeholders to provide updates, answer questions, and ensure stakeholder needs are being met. Monitoring is a measure of stakeholder satisfaction and how well the plan is being executed, along with a check that stakeholder expectations are being met.
Building Diverse Teams
Diversity within a team means not only demographically but also different academic and experience backgrounds. Such teams provide a rich environment with team members speaking from their diverse life perspectives. These teams provide for wider points of view and help to cover more blind spots.
“If you don’t bring a lot of diverse lenses to bear, you’re likely to have blind spots and make mistakes,” Scott Page, a professor of complex systems at the University of Michigan and author of, ‘The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off In The Knowledge Economy’, said in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton.
As an anti-example, non-diverse teams seem to align on a single view, which leads to quicker decisions. The lack of different viewpoints can bring about a fast resolution with negative consequences.
“This morning we are talking about decision making that has occurred at the government that happened fast, and the research indicates that if you have non-diverse leadership teams, they tend to make fast decisions because they tend to agree with each other, but they may not make the most effective decisions,” Sallie Krawcheck, who served as CEO of Smith Barney, CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and CFO of Citigroup, and author of, ‘Own It: The Power of Women at Work,’ said to CNBC’s make it.
Leading-Practice Project Management No one can go wrong by following the PMI nine elements to success. Additionally, there are many noteworthy books that offer a number of real-world examples of how good project management was put into practice. A few notable books include:
- Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
- Getting Things Done: Art of Stress-Free Productivity
- Brilliant Project Management
- Project Management: The Managerial Process
- Project Management for Non-Project Managers
Bringing a project in on-time and within budget creates additional business value. The reality is that it’s more common for projects to be delivered late and over budget. Delivering a project on time requires the effort and input of all involved in the project. One person can’t do it alone.
Following the key points laid out in this article should help put you on the right path to delivering projects on time, within their budget, which ultimately contributes value to the host organization.