In Turbulent Times With Efficient Project Management

10 Steps to Improve Business Success

Only executive management understanding and actively using and supporting efficient project management within their organization will lead their companies successfully through turbulent economic periods and gain competitive advantage.

People have been realizing projects for a long time nevertheless; the advancement of project management tools, techniques, software, and methodologies really started booming in the second half of the 20th century. Even today, the application of project management is still gaining momentum. Where twenty years ago, project management gave you a competitive advantage, today it has become a necessity to survive.

In turbulent times like today where banks are reluctant to lend money, where reducing costs has become a way of surviving, it is clear that project management will help reduce costs, shorten the time to market, and improve your competitive position. Effective project management will help you to use all your resources in the most efficient way!

None of this happens effortlessly. Companies, big and small, can build their own project management organization that suits their specific needs. The Project Management Institute is today the largest project management organization worldwide and its methodology offers best practices to improve your project management processes.

My 10 step formula to enhance project success

What is project success and what is the responsibility of the project manager? An efficient project manager goes beyond the tactical goals to complete the project on time and on the budget and takes into account the strategic goal or the real value the project should be bringing.

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  1. The opportunity to address with the project is the main reason why the project is undertaken and is different from the solutions. An opportunity may have different solutions and the project team can select that solution that will best address both the strategic and tactical goals of the project.
  2. Once the opportunity to address and the solution to implement have been defined, we can complete the project definition and the success factors which lead to the completion of the Project Charter or the Project Definition Document. This document is the contractual agreement between the project client and the project manager and it describes in clear terms what has to be realized and what not. Unclear terms in the project definition document will certainly lead to misunderstandings during project planning and execution.
  3. The project definition also includes the projects driving factors, also known as the triple constraint (cost, time and people). The three parameters and Quality are linked together and changing one parameter will influence the project’s outcome. Define clearly which parameter is the driving factor or constraint for the project and what the importance is for the other two parameters.task diagram
  4. Preparation is a key factor in the success of all projects great or small. Starting a project without preparation is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute: it will end up in disaster! Projects are not undertaking as such, they need to be prepared. The project manager and the project team will prepare the execution of the project by writing or completing the project charter. Then they will identify all tasks to be executed, estimate durations, cost, and complete the planning and the time-phased budget. During the preparation, the project team learns to understand the project and its complexity. Genius is not enough to obtain success and repeat the success from project to project. Preparation is the way to go!
  5. Understanding project risk and identifying the uncertainties – threats and opportunities –  that may affect the project outcome is very important. During the preparation, the project team gained a lot of knowledge about the project and the uncertainties that may occur during execution. Risk management relates to prepare for these risks and provide adequate responses.

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  6. Once the project starts, the project follow up is done periodically in a structured way. It consists of gathering all relevant project information like completion of tasks, money spent, problems that occurred during the last reporting period, and previsions for the next reporting period. The project manager will evaluate the information using techniques like Earned Value Management, identify potential problems, and propose solutions as early as possible. Remember, problems only become larger with time!
  7. Become a learning organization and learn lessons from past projects.  Educating and certifying people in the field of project management will add value to your organization and build trust with your partners. PgMP® or PMP® certification are key differentiators in today’s business. Sharing experiences from past projects will improve your overall performance.
  8. Effective project management also means that you have a project sponsor or management support. Without adequate support, your project will not get the necessary attention and support within your organization and the risk is high that your project will not be considered to be important. Without management support, it may become very difficult to complete your project successfully.
  9. Each company whatever its size and industry can build its own project management methodology or processes to improve the way to run projects. The PMI methodology is especially suitable for this purpose. Adapting the methodology to your specific needs enhances repetitive project success.
  10. The soft side of projects is in many cases forgotten. Nevertheless, projects are done by people, and therefore people selection and motivation is key. Selecting people to compose performing teams is not just about selecting the best people; it is about selecting these people that can work together effectively. During execution, the project manager has to keep the people motivated. Without motivation, efficiency, and performance reduce. Project management is unfortunately still considered by many to be an administrative job! It is NOT! Soft skills are in many cases neglected and people concentrate on the tools and techniques. Nevertheless, the soft factors and the soft skills the project manager and the team members possess may be one of the most important contributors to project success.

Ir. Luc De Ceuster, PMP. General Manager of APraCom, s.r.o. (www.APraCom.cz) and Professor Project Management and Operations at the University of New York in Prague (www.UNYP.cz).