It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run – the ability to successfully manage projects is a crucial component to getting things done.
Projects are a series of tasks performed by people involved in accomplishing a goal or solving a problem.
Projects can be short-term or long term. Each has its own unique set of issues, but both strive to improve operational efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. Both of which have a positive effect on the bottom line.
Projects can be as simple as planning the annual business retreat; moving offices to a new location, or as complex as reengineering a manufacturing plant.
Some projects are very short-term and require minimal resources, while other projects are long-term and require significant resources.
So what is project management?
Project Management involves the managing of the people, process, and resources related to a project.
All projects should have a:
Sponsor: Someone high in the organization who supports the project;
For instance, a sponsor for a project that is organizing an office move might be the Facilities Director.
Charter: A document that describes the project and scope of the project;
You can access a project charter template here.
Gantt chart: A timeline for project completion;
Access a free Gantt chart template here.
Project Deliverables: A detailed list of what the project delivers for the resources invested;
For instance, a deliverable for an office move project might be a “seamless move with less than 24-hours downtime”.
Team of stakeholders: A list of departments/positions/stakeholders who the project impacts;
For instance, the stakeholders for a factory reengineering project might be: Lineworkers, supervisors, production manager, purchasing agent, production secretary, engineering, information technology, and vice president of operations.
Budget: Designated dollars allocated to the completion of the project.
For instance, the budget for the annual staff retreat might include:
4 Steps to Successful Project Management
1. Approval of Project
The first step is to get approval for the project. The support should be based on:
A cost-benefit analysis of the project.
Before any project begins, the team needs to do its due diligence to ensure that the resources invested in the project will pay off.
After a thorough cost-benefit analysis, the team will present a case for the recommended project to the senior leadership team.
A well-made case will result in buy-in and approval.
Ensuring there are adequate budget dollars is imperative, so the next step is to secure funding for the proposed project.
Hopefully, the team has done an excellent job of estimating the costs of the project.
Obviously, the scope of the project will make a difference in the resource requirements.
Once a project is approved and budgeted, planning for the project would be the next step. The planning process includes:
Identify the Project Team
Establish the necessary skills that the team would benefit from and recruit members for the team that possess those skills.
Hopefully, your organization does an excellent job of rewarding and recognizing productive employees and workers will be interested in taking on the project.
Planning the Project Scope
Every project needs to identify the project scope. This is done by making a list of all project deliverables, goals, deadlines, tasks, and financial costs.
Timeline and Required Tasks
Next, the project team needs to identify a specific timeline for completing the project. This will include a list of tasks that need to be completed.
The final step in the planning phase is to delegate tasks and responsibilities to project team members.
Members should understand the accountability attached to timelines and ramifications for not adhering to deadlines.
Accountability is critical to completing tasks as assigned on time.
Anyone who has ever been involved in implementing a significant project understands the challenge of implementation.
Countless projects fail at the time of implementation, which is why monitoring the progress toward goals is critical, and accountability of team members is essential.
Planning is the easy part; implementation is where the rubber meets the road.
As the project is being implemented, it is essential to track its progress.
There is countless project management software available that can help with this process. Digitize it, and you will save lots of time.
4. Project Evaluation
Once the project is complete, data should be gathered, and evaluation should be made as to the effects of the project as compared to the project proposal.
The evaluation process should also be used to document the project.
Create a written evaluation document that can be used as a learning tool for what worked, what should be considered for the next project, lessons learned, and finally, closing out a project.
Often for large projects, an outside consultant may be brought in to assist with the implementation.
This is where closing out the project and incorporating project outcomes into the day-to-day process is critical. Write policies and procedures to ensure employees have a good understanding of their responsibilities in maintaining the project outcome.
Finally, successful projects are critical in achieving organizational strategy and goals. Having a well-trained team and facilitator helps lay the groundwork for successful project management and implementation.
When was the last time your business had to plan and implement a major project?