Many a time, when project managers plan implementations, they overlook certain risk factors associated with it. They focus their efforts on budgets, deliverables, stakeholder expectations and deadlines. Failure to anticipate potential breakdowns in the implementation process can jeopardize the future of the project and the outcome could be a disaster.
Project implementations can be unsuccessful for several reasons including poor planning, insufficient resources, unsuitable methodology, bad project management, untrained teams, poor communication, unrealistic expectations, and so on. With every step of the implementation process being replete with risks, the chances of success can be dicey.
Applying traditional project management practices to projects can mean working within an unshakeable framework. Sometimes, a little flexibility can save a project from drowning, which is why an increasing number of project managers prefer to merge traditional and modern practices.
Getting your project management efforts right is a matter of employing some of the best practices, which are mentioned below:
1. Understand Project Needs
It is important that you first understand your project’s needs to figure out the methodology which will suit it best. Review your current processes and adapt to improvise with the aid of practices that support the requirements of your business.
Have all the information that you will need to achieve your objectives ready. Familiarize yourself with the project scope and requirements to figure out what is needed to complete each task in the best possible manner. Remember, rash decisions can lead to project failure and wastage of resources.
2. Communicate Clearly
Flawless communication throughout the implementation process of the project will help you identify the real issues it could face in future. It is important to keep communication flowing. This may mean eliminating organizational barriers that exist not only within the organization, but also with third-party vendors for quicker and transparent communication.
All parties should focus on working towards a common goal. Make sure that every member in the team understands their role, especially when it comes to managing resources, issues, scope change, risk, quality, communication, and other related aspects. Regular and proactive participation from all members will ensure that the team as well as the stakeholders are on the same page. This will go a long way in being prepared for dealing with unexpected problems and contingencies.
Often, decisions need to be changed as the project advances. Do not forget to keep your client in the loop during critical discussions.
3. Be Realistic
A positive outlook is a great thing, but it also needs to be realistic if you want success. Focus on setting realistic timeframes. Several organizations make the mistake of setting overly optimistic deadlines, despite the realities and limitations of the project. For a pragmatic timeframe, you will have to monitor the progress continuously, and identify risk factors early in the project’s lifecycle.
Evaluate task turn-times prudently. Be honest when estimating the time your team will take to complete each task. Track project activities so that you can mitigate problems as they occur. If you run out of time, try not to panic as that is when the gravest mistakes are often committed.
Also, keep the expectations in accordance with the availability of resources. Otherwise, things will take no time in spiraling out of control.
4. Have a Scope-Creep Defence In Place
It is crucial that project managers are well aware of dealing with scope creep if and when it rears its ugly head. Scope creep refers to a series of small scope changes that are made to the project without scope-change management procedures being used.
The series of changes do not affect the project individually, but can accrue and have significant bearings on the project as a whole.
Scope creep is responsible for the failure of several projects, which is why it is imperative that project managers guard against it.
5. Identify and Mitigate Risks Early
As far as possible, team members should identify potential risks in the early stages of the project. At the same time, they should also determine the impact of the risk event over the project.
Specific plans should be formulated to mitigate high-risk events to prevent their occurrence altogether. Medium-risk events can be analyzed to determine if they need to be proactively managed. Low-risk events may be considered assumptions, i.e. you’re assuming that a positive outcome is more likely.
Certain risks are inherent in complex projects. Other risks may include the lack of expertise, unfamiliarity with the technology being used, and problems in existing products or equipment. Sometimes, cross-functional support may be needed to deal with them. The project manager must, therefore, be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the team and use them as circumstances change.
6. Resolve Issues Quickly
Resolve problems quickly by performing periodic risk assessments to determine other risks that may have surfaced after starting the project.
The project manager needs to manage issues meticulously to ensure that they are being resolved. If there is no urgency to resolve the issue or if the issue has been active for some time, it may just be a potential problem (risk). Either that or it might be a matter to be resolved later on. Real issues, by their nature, must be resolved as quickly as possible, i.e. with a sense of urgency.
Employing modern project management best practices alongside traditional methodologies enables you to transcend management barriers that hold you back. Further, doing so also equips you enough to ensure project success. With the help of such an approach, you will be able to identify and resolve strategic and intangible issues and get a grip over the situation to the best extent possible. Apart from that, you can also rest assured of the fact that you’re taking the very steps that the project needs to conclude successfully.