Ten Tips for Running Successful Projects
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Why do so many projects fail? Researchers regularly conduct studies to find
out the leading causes of project failure. Some of the studies are in the public
domain. You can look up studies by such groups as Gartner, Carnegie Mellon
University and the Project Management Institute. The studies reveal a recurring
theme. Here are some of the common causes they identify:
- poorly defined organizational objectives
- loose project sponsorship and executive
- project manager untrained
- loose scope containment and project change
- poorly defined requirements
- lack of consultation with key project
- no risk management plan
- unrealistic project estimates
Do any of these look familiar to you? Do you recognize one or more as
handicaps in your organization? I have summarized below the top ten things you
can do to improve the chances of success of your projects.
- Before you start your project, find a
committed project sponsor who has sufficient clout in your organization. Your
project sponsor will prove invaluable in helping you overcome organizational
roadblocks as they arise.
- Analyze who are your projectís key
stakeholders and communicate with them throughout the project. Your
stakeholders can make or break your project. Compile a stakeholder
communication plan with the help of your project team and sponsor.
- Get your sponsor and key stakeholders
together to thrash out the measures of success of your project. How will you
know if your project has succeeded? What are the key indicators of success?
Get everyone on the same page from the outset.
- Decide upfront the methodology you will use
on your project. What project phases will the project proceed through? What
will be the key go/no go decision points? What are the expected project
outputs for each phase?
- Draw up a project schedule that clearly
allocates project tasks to team members. Identify which tasks depend on others
for their successful completion. Communicate schedule progress regularly to
all team members and to the projectís sponsor.
- Make sure that project changes donít get out
of hand by reviewing and authorizing all proposed changes. Evaluate each
proposed change for the impact on project cost, quality and schedule.
- Do not let an unforeseen event sink your
project. Find out what risks can threaten your project and build a risk
mitigation strategy into your project plan. Issues will also arise from time
to time, so you will need to keep track of these and communicate their impact
to all concerned.
- Decide at the start which documents your
project will generate and when. For medium- and small-sized projects, keep
documentation requirements to a manageable level without significantly
increasing the risk to the project.
- Once your project finishes, use the measures
of success that you agreed at the start to evaluate project performance. Was
it within budget? Was it on schedule? Did it produce what it was meant to
produce, and at the required quality? What can you learn from this? Now report
your projectís performance to your sponsor and the key stakeholders.
- 1Follow up with the key stakeholders and your
project team members and find out how they felt about the project. Was the
project a success from their perspective? How did the project impact them
personally? From this you will discover what went well and what did not go so
well. Apply these lessons to your next project.
Successful projects do not just happen. They require structured planning, the
right tools, insightful management and good interpersonal skills. Use the ten
tips above to help make your next project a winner.
Copyright 2008 Leslie Allan
About the Author
Leslie Allan is Managing Director of Business Performance Pty Ltd; a
management consulting firm specializing in people and process capability. He has
been assisting organizations for over 20 years, contributing in various roles as
project manager, consultant and trainer for organizations large and small.
He is also the author of five books on training and change management and is
the editor of a practical guide on managing projects. Leslie is a member of the
Australian Institute of Management and the Quality Society of Australasia. He
also serves as a member of the Divisional Council of the Australian Institute of
Training and Development. Leslie may be contacted from his website at www.businessperform.com
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-11-25 00:40:52 in Business Articles