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Six steps to successful project management

Six steps to successful project management

If it's time to make change happen in your business, a clear process and the right resources are essential factors.


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If it's time to make change happen in your business, a clear process and the right resources are essential factors. Effective project management is much more involved than assigning a team to a task and announcing a delivery date to stakeholders. In today's fast-paced, ever-changing business environment, a 'set and forget' approach like this could see small challenges turn into big problems – and your great idea could quickly be on the path to failure.

To ensure success, it's vital to define the business case for the project, then put in place an implementation strategy to minimise any risks to the project or the organisation. Common issues that bring a plan unstuck include delays, lack of resources, cost blow outs, miscommunication and security breaches, which can lead to major reputational damage.

1. Clarify what, why and the impact

What is the 'big picture' reason for the project? Be clear about its purpose, and what difference it will make to the organisation once complete. Share this understanding to help drive stronger engagement and motivation from the project team, and to foster broader support.

2. Clearly define roles and responsibilities

From the project leader through to every person in the team, everyone must know what their core tasks are, and the deadlines for each one. Make everyone accountable, so they own a sense of responsibility, and understand that each action relies on another.

3. Identify resource challenges or skill gaps, and act

Is your project about implementing new technology? Reaching into new international markets? Creating a new product that isn't typical to your business? It's possible you could need to up-skill your team, or bring in outside experts to fill knowledge gaps for the duration. If you've done step 2, these cracks should be evident early, enabling you to move quickly.

4. Communicate constantly and clearly

Whether a project timeline is 3 weeks or 6 months, you need regular communication with the necessary team members and stakeholders. It could be weekly 'WIPs' (work in progress) calls, a morning 'stand up huddle' to set goals for the day, or formal calls with upper management to report on changes.

With this flow of discussion, it should be much easier to spot fires. You can also see if a resources gap you didn't predict at steps 2 and 3 is emerging, enabling you to get the right people in. It also ensures you have no surprises in store for stakeholders about the project completion date or impact.

5. Cut emails and focus on productivity

A major project can mean an insurmountable pile of emails. In the midst, vital messages can get lost. Therefore, from the outset get every team member onto a collaborative project management dashboard (such as a cloud platform service like Trello) and encourage them to log and monitor progress.

6. Keep an agile mindset

It's clear that successful project management takes planning from the outset, but it also requires constant monitoring and adjustment throughout. This includes keeping an eye on outside influences. If a competitor is making a new announcement – do you need to hasten your implementation? Or pivot your strategy? If you've been diligent with steps 1 – 5, you'll be in a stronger position to speed up, scale up, or get more hands on deck to get the job done.

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