5 steps for more successful project management
Every year your company initiates a wealth of projects. Whether you are changing how you manage your inventory, implementing an enterprise resource planning system or launching a product, your business is always in “project management mode.”
However, entrepreneurs still have difficulty estimating the time and effort required to successfully complete their projects.
Technology is rarely the reason a project fails. Missed deadlines, change of scope and insufficient resources are why half of business projects fail, according to a PwC survey.
What are the consequences? Wasted time and money: The business doesn’t reap the expected rewards and employees get discouraged.
You can identify the key steps in managing a project and avoid its pitfalls by following the steps below.
Every project must start with identifying objectives. Consideration must also be given to the constraints that might jeopardize the project, including those related to the market, technology, human resources, budget and timeline.
After you have determined the project is feasible and will benefit the business, you can move on to planning all the activities and setting a timeline. This step involves writing a detailed description of the activities in chronological order. Who will do what? Does the company have all the skills it needs in-house?
Now the plan has to be executed. It takes a stringent approach and discipline to stick to the timeline and produce deliverables. Weekly or quarterly meetings, depending on the complexity of the project, will help you take stock of your progress and avoid delays.
Momentum is often lost during the last 10% of the project. People feel like everything is finished and they forget the final details that take a lot of time to complete.
Get the project team together to look at what went well and what didn’t, so you can avoid the latter in the future.
Here are some tips on overcoming the most common obstacles to successful project management.
- Do detailed feasibility studies to estimate all of the costs. Rather than using the lowest estimate, it’s always better to use the highest so that you know if the project is still profitable under the worst scenario.
- Divide big projects into small steps. This will help you navigate through a complex landscape and avoid problems caused by forgetting steps. It’s also an excellent way to keep your employees motivated because they see progress.
- Have contingency plans in place from the design phase. These should include red flags to watch for and what to do under different scenarios. This will help you assess risk factors and manage unforeseen developments better.
- Always keep your eye on the “critical path”—the activities that are vital to the success of a project. Follow this path carefully.
- Flying solo is not recommended. Recognize the value of a team approach and seek help with complex projects that exceed your management skills. BDC consultants are there to help you.
- Free up employees involved in the project from some of their usual tasks. Put pressure on the process, not on the people.
- Each project represents a change. Always keep your employees posted on the project’s progress, expected benefits and potential problems.
- Don’t rush into things. The more time you spend developing and planning the project, the more likely you are to be successful.