COSIDER SOME FACTS
- Only 29 percent of IT projects are completed successfully (Phillips)
- About 1 out of 5 IT projects is likely to bring full satisfaction (Cortex)
- The larger the project the more likely the failure
Why do so many projects fail? The majority of IT leaders suggest that:
- Many project managers don’t follow standard project management processes.
- Project managers are not outfitted with the proper team.
- Project managers don't evaluate the risks that could hamper their projects or proactively look for ways to limit or eradicate those risks.
What defines the success of an IT project?
- Meeting deadlines
- Meeting the budget specifications
- Meeting the project requirements
BEST PRACTICES FOR PROJECT MANAGEMENT SUCCESS
1. Align your project to organizational goals
Be strategic in determining which projects to implement – they should directly align with the organizational core values and goals.
2. Define your scope and document your goals
The scope helps to define the boundary or limitation of the project. It is crucial for Project Managers to understand the difference between what they desire to accomplish and what they are actually able to accomplish. Project goals also need to be documented. What are you trying to accomplish? What are the success factors? What are the required steps to get there? Who is responsible for reaching key milestones? Goals should be specific – take the time to put them in writing.
3. Engage the right team and build a relationship
Make sure you have a good team with the right skills to lead and implement the project. Take the time to build a good relationship with staff and team members. Successful project managers need to know how to get the best from their staff. An effective leader builds respect and this respect transfers to project success. Often, when extra effort is required, if you have taken the time to build respect, team members will respond when the challenge arises. On a side note, consider the availability of your project team. You should also have a clear understanding of how much time your project team can commit to your project (e.g. if they can only work on certain days, full-time or part-time, etc.). Consider drafting up a project schedule that clearly allocates project tasks to team members. Identify which tasks depend on others for their successful completion. Communicate schedule progress regularly to all team members.
4. Determine the right key stakeholders
The right stakeholders, such as partners, are important resources to help manage and implement the project. Analyse who are your project's key stakeholders and communicate with them throughout the project. Your stakeholders can make all the difference in the failure or success of your project. Consider putting together a stakeholder communication plan with the help of your project team which identifies a list of all stakeholders as well as their involvement in the project.
5. Have regularly scheduled meetings with agendas
This tip refers to a key element of any project- communication. Communication is vital on most projects; people need to know what is happening and how things are moving forward (or backward!) on the project. You need to make sure that meetings occur regularly to inform and educate your project team about what is happening with the project. Having a set agenda is crucial in every meeting. You need to ensure that your meetings have an agenda and most important a facilitator or organizer. The facilitator’s job is to make sure that the meeting remains productive. Make certain that you inform all the team at every step of the way throughout the project – communicating even the smallest element ensures no one is left out of the loop and helps to improve your leadership skills as well as controlling risk.
6. Have a back-up plan
Always build some contingency into the schedule and the budget. Doing so will give you greater flexibility to move in the event that contingent actions or adjustments become necessary. If you get pushed for time, you can assign surplus resources as part of your contingency budget. Consider using phases, stages or sub-projects to plan for large projects. Don't try to lock in delivery times on tasks that are months down the track. Although profitability may be slightly compromised, a positive project outcome is much more pleasing than having to put out fires or explain to senior management why adequate controls or checks and balances were not put in place.
7. Measure success and follow up
Once your project finishes, review the original details and goals of the project at hand to determine project performance. Was it within budget? Was it on schedule? Did it produce what it was meant to produce, and at the required quality? What can you learn from this? Report your project's performance to your key stakeholders and follow up with them and your project team members and find out how they felt about the project. Was the project a success from their perspective? From this you will learn what went well and what could have gone better. Don’t forget to apply these lessons to your next project.
Project managers must always focus on three dimensions of project success. Project success means completing all project deliverables on time, within budget, and to a level of quality that is acceptable to stakeholders. The project manager must keep the team’s attention focused on achieving these broad goals. Successful projects do not just happen. They require structured planning, the right tools, insightful management and good interpersonal skills.
The Litcom Approach
For more information on how Litcom can help you with your project management needs, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.