The job of a project manager or project leader is extremely complex and involves everything from gaining executive buy-in to ensuring the team are able to deliver the project on time without exceeding the budget.
Many projects fail precisely because balancing these various responsibilities is easier said than done.
Nevertheless, there are various key elements that can help to deliver project realization.
Let’s look at these elements and explain why they are so fundamental to project management success.
1. Making a Compelling Business Case
Another crucial element contributing to project management success is gaining executive sponsorship and this will require a compelling business case to be made.
It may be beneficial to employ a business analyst, but even in organisations without such a position, business analysis training can be valuable. It helps project managers to define business needs more accurately and ensure that their team focuses on doing the right work, the right way.
The importance of this is also backed up by the aforementioned PMI report, which shows that seventy percent of ‘champions’ prioritize project management business skills, compared with just 11 percent of ‘under-performers’.
However, it is important that the business case goes beyond ROI statistics and focuses more on business strategy.
“Crafting a business case that shows a strong return on investment can be powerful, but those numbers alone do not tell the whole story,” says Raed Haddad, “When weighing project acceptance, there are other crucial factors to consider, such as how each project outcome can help achieve strategic objectives or further your company mission. Reinforce the value of your project beyond ROI.”
2. Getting the Right Resources in Place
In addition to gaining the right skills and making a compelling business case for a project, successful project management also relies on gathering all of the resources that are needed.
On the most basic level, this means getting finances in place and ensuring the team has all of the necessary equipment to complete the project.
However, gathering the right resources extends beyond this. For example, team members are a resource, so assembling the right team is vital. Time is also a resource, so it is important to have a schedule and clear deadlines.
“Internally, this could involve the IT department providing the appropriate hardware/software, Human Resources recruiting the necessary people or the Facilities department providing offices or other relevant support,” explains Dawn Chapman.
3. Avoiding Uncontrolled Changes to Scope
The impact of ‘scope creep’ is one of the single biggest challenges for project managers and needs to be avoided. However, it is crucial that the problem is fully understood.
Not all changes to project scope are bad, and indeed one of the key benefits of adopting the agile method to project management is allowing for scope to change seamlessly.
Scope creep, however, specifically refers to uncontrolled changes to the scope of the project, or changes that have not been approved by the project manager or leader.
This is a major problem if the scope increases without approval, resulting in increased workload for the same allocation of time and finances.
To guard against this threat, successful project managers have a system in place for assessing the impact of change.
The system combines a vigilant approach to project management, a clear understanding of the project requirements and clients’ vision and maintaining a distinct process for project adaptation.
This allows them to make more evidence-based decisions about which changes to accept. It also means that any changes to scope that could adversely impact upon the project’s key success criteria can be resisted.
4. Continuous Project Management Training
Perhaps the single most important element that contributes towards project management success is the continuous provision of high-quality project management training.
This allows project professionals to develop new skills, learn new ways of working and adapt to the latest methodologies and emerging technological trends.
The PMI Pulse of the Profession 2018 Report focuses on achieving success in disruptive times and has divided its participants into two broad categories – those who delivered 80 percent or more of their projects on time, within budget (champions) and those who achieved this on fewer than 60 percent of projects (under-performers).
Revealingly, among the ‘champions’, 83 percent of organisations provided on-going project management training, compared with 34 percent of ‘under-performers’.
Among ‘champions’, 81 percent also had a formal knowledge transfer process, whereas just 16 percent of ‘under-performers’ were able to say the same.
The Last Word
The role of a project manager is complex and involves juggling a number of different responsibilities in order to guide a project from its initial design through to successful completion or realisation.
Here we have identified several key elements that can help to reduce the chances of a project failing to meet its objectives and improve its chances of success.
It is essential to put in the groundwork via the provision of high-quality project management and business analysis training, which can help to develop key skills and define business needs.
Moreover, it is critical to gather the right resources, and to maintain a vigilant approach to project management, thus guarding against scope creep.
Following these basic steps will help to ensure project realization and successful resolution of sudden strains on budget, personnel or equipment that are commonplace although cannot always be anticipated.
What Makes Project Management Successful?
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