Article Practices for Successful Project Management
By Madeleine (Engwall) Roldos / 19 May 2021
By Madeleine (Engwall) Roldos / 19 May 2021
A project is defined by the Project Management Institute as a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. A project is typically successful if you deliver the required deliverable within project scope, time, and budget. In this article, I am breaking down a few practices that will help you do just that.
The most important part of the Initiation phase of a project is to get formal approval and sign off on the project charter which officially authorizes the project and gives the project manager the authority to manage the project and its resources. The charter is usually a high-level document that includes the project objective, deliverables, requirements, constraints, a list of key stakeholders, and a summary of the timeline and budget. Break down the details of the scope even further in a scope statement to clarify any questions and ensure that key stakeholders are aligned.
Set up a work breakdown structure for the project by decomposing the scope into work packages and activities. Breaking down the work needed to achieve the objective and deliverables will help you stay organized and ensure that the project remains within its scope. Analyze the activities under each work package to establish their relationship and dependencies. Once you know the dependencies, create a timeline including the start and end date for each activity.
Project stakeholders are not only project team members but anyone, internal or external who could have an impact or be impacted by the project. In order to navigate between the different needs and interests of your stakeholders, it helps to categorize them based on their power and interest as well as their support level. Categorizing project stakeholders will help you figure out how to best manage them throughout the project. The power/interest grid and the stakeholder engagement matrix below are great tools you can use when building a plan for stakeholder management.
A stakeholder typically falls into one of the following support categories:
Communication with stakeholders is vital for project success and establishing a set of ground rules for how your team communicates and handles potential conflicts has a positive impact on trust, collaboration, and performance. Build a communication plan based on stakeholder requirements and make sure to specify how and when to communicate project updates. Having and following a structured communication plan will support transparency, effective communication and ensure that all stakeholders are aligned.
Build a solid communication plan by asking yourself the following questions:
Any project is likely to face risks related to cost, schedule, and scope, therefore it is important to do a risk analysis and decide the risk response strategy before beginning the execution phase of the project. Analyze risk probability and impact and make sure to include a contingency reserve as a buffer for risks affecting cost and schedule.
Scope creep is one of the most common risks affecting projects and it usually occurs when key stakeholders add additional requirements that haven’t been authorized as a part of the scope. Scope creep means that the scope grows in an uncontrolled way without adjustments to time, cost, or resources. The problem with this is that unauthorized work ultimately takes time from authorized assignments which can result in delays or deliverables not getting approved. Take control over your scope by implementing a change control process that all potential changes, big as small, need to go through before getting approved or denied. Whether the project succeeds or fails depends highly on monitoring the scope and required changes. Remember, even changes that appear to be small can have a big impact on the project in the end.
Another common risk is cost overrun. It can be difficult to estimate costs for a project upfront but it is important to have as close an estimate as possible in order to stay on budget. Two common estimation techniques you can use are analogous estimating and bottom-up estimating. Analogous estimating involves basing your cost estimate on previous similar projects. Bottom-up estimating on the other hand is a more detailed estimation technique where you estimate each activity in a work package and then add the total of all work packages to get an overall project estimate. In bottom-up estimating it is advisable to involve the team member responsible for an activity to get the most accurate estimate.
There are many constraints in a project, and the most important are related to cost, schedule, and scope. The iron triangle, also known as the triple constraint, describes the relationship between these 3 constraints and how changes to one affect at least one of the other. Adjusting the constraints according to project changes is critical to keep the quality of the deliverables. For example, increasing the scope without increasing cost or time will hurt quality. Having a change control process in place to analyze and balance the constraints around the change requests before accepting them will not only ensure the quality of the deliverables but also support project success.