Five Factors That Lead to Successful Projects
Having a talented project manager is the first step to actual project success, but there are other important factors that contribute largely to a project’s outcome. It takes careful planning, attention to detail and effective communication to make a project succeed. With vigilant management and a strong project closing, a company can consistently reach project success. (Full disclosure, Ben Prendergast is the CEO of Copper Project Management Software)
1. Smart Planning
Comprehensive planning sets up a project for success from the start. All stakeholders should be on board during the planning process and always know in which direction the project is going to go. Planning can help the team to meet deadlines and stay organized. Good planning not only keeps the project team focused and on track, but also keeps stakeholders aware of project progress.
There are many benefits to smart planning. This first step in the project process allows for a reliable and realistic time-scale to be created. Assuring accurate time for cost estimates to be produced and for clear documentation of milestones and deliverables will make things much easier as the project progresses. A proficient plan details all resource requirements and doubles as a warning system. If task slippage is at risk, then a warning system will provide clear visibility of what to expect.
Smarter planning with Project Management SoftwareUse a tool that offers a full drag and drop timeline so that you can quickly and effectively build a project plan and establish an accurate end date. Use previously completed projects as templates for your future projects. In this way not only can you avoid redundancies associated with creating a new project from scratch each time, but the more often you reuse a template project the closer you’ll be to accurate timelines and budget estimates
2. Smart People
Without the right team in place, any strategy and plan has the potential of completely falling apart. Because of this, the core project staff, expert resources, suppliers and all stakeholders should be part of the team dynamic. All of those involved must have commitment to the group, share similar visions for the projects and strive for overall success.
Project managers can face serious trouble if inadequacy is present within the team. Inept leadership or an out-of-sync team can send a project towards failure. It is important to assign the right people to each aspect of the project and make sure that they are working well together. Additionally, the entire team should be completely informed and involved in order to have the most successful outcome, which means that communication has to be on par.
Smarter Resourcing with Project Management Software
Use a software tool to get everyone online and using a central repository of information. Tools like Copper Project not only allow you to manage the To-Dos and Project plans, but will also allow you to set the availability of your resources, and then book their time on specific tasks/projects. Once they’ve logged their time, you have a powerful system that not only automates time-sheets/invoicing, but stops your project processes falling apart when your staff move on.
3. Open Communication
Looking closely at details and listening to outside sources of information is vital to the success of a project. Keeping open communication within the team is absolutely essential. When working under a specific timetable, it is important that the team remains well-informed. If a problem arises on one part of a project, it can negatively impact other parts as well. Communication is the best way to prevent problems from occurring.
Communication should also be focused internally within the organization. Keeping an organizational history of major projects will give convenient access to improved policies and business processes. If this isn’t done, then a team may repeat mistakes that have already occurred. Listening to stakeholders and paying attention is a very important ingredient for success.
Good communication also includes knowing when to say no. A project team should never promise anything they know they can’t deliver. Saying no in the beginning could save an overabundance of unnecessary problems later. Always be honest about what your team can do and when it can be done by.
Use previous projects as templates for improvement with Project Management Software
Aside from using a tool that allows draggable timelines, also find one that allows you to use previous projects as templates for establishing your new timeline. Not only will you improve your processes over time (becoming more accurate with your estimates and setting client expectations accordingly), but you also improve communications between all your project participants.
4. Careful Risk Management
Project managers know that things rarely go off exactly as planned. During the planning process, it is vital to produce a risk log with an action plan for the risks that the project could face. Make sure all key stakeholders are aware of your risk log and know where they can find it. If something happens, then the team can quickly resolve the issue with the management plan that has already been set in place. This will give the team confidence when facing project risks and help the clients feel comfortable with the project’s progression.
The hidden risk: information loss through ‘information islands’ and staff turnover
Having a central online database of project information is vital to ensure you don’t lose crucial project momentum during the project, but also in the event of losing key participants you can quickly get your new team members up to speed.
5. Strong Project Closure
If a project does not have strong closure, then it has the potential to continue to consume resources. The project team must be firm and agree with the customer that all critical success factors have been met. Confirmation of the project delivery, testing, and release must be agreed upon and signed off. Satisfaction surveys are good forms of documentation to log and file for future reference and valuable information for use in the future.
It is the project manager’s job to ensure that everything runs smoothly on a project, but having a great project manager doesn’t guarantee a successful project outcome. The entire team paying attention to key factors is what will help lead the project to true success. This success will then lead to proactive, organized project plans and an increase in quality of all future projects.
Managing client expectations and sign-off with Project Management Software
Using an online PM tool is often difficult when it comes to getting your clients involved. Therefore choose one that allows you to give your clients limited access, where you can upload project sign-off assets and have them digitally sign off in stages.
Erin Palmer is a guest Author for Copper Project and works for University Alliance. She writes about many of their project management training programs including the PMP certification training course.