Efficiently deploy your projects with pragmatic Project Management
Complementary to portfolio management, focusing on selecting the right projects, good project management practices enable to execute the projects right.
In this article we will focus on seven guidelines that will help implement pragmatic project management:
- Align stakeholders expectations
- Sell the project to the team
- Plan appropriate time for team members
- Ensure team members know when & what to do
- Assess & communicate project health
- Solve rapidly issues
- Ensure mistakes are not repeated
There are many more best practices in project management, but we consider the above are the most important ones.
Tip #1: Align stakeholders expectations
At the beginning of a project it is a good investment to spend time with stakeholders to make sure they have the same understanding of the project objectives.
The project charter is a good tool for accomplishing this. It covers the main questions:
Why are we doing this project? This is the business context within which the project resides.
What is it supposed to deliver? From the project objectives which should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, Timely), the main deliverables and milestones can be defined. This makes the project more concrete.
Who will be involved? The core team is identified at this stage, and will be reinforced by other team members during the planning phase. This can also cover external resources, like consultants or additional equipment.
Other information such as high-level risks complete the content of the project charter which constitutes a sort of contract between the project manager, the sponsor and the major stakeholders.
Tip #2: Sell the project to the team
Next important step is to start planning the project. All team members must feel comfortable with the tactics and deliverables they are responsible for. In that sense, it is up to the project manager to sell the project to his/her team by involving them in the planning activity.
The Work Breakdown Structure is a simple but powerful tool that allows to discuss and visualize the project scope with the project team. The usage of Post-Its enables a dynamic discussion. Duration, internal effort and external costs can be captured on the Post-Its and consolidated later on by the project manager.
Tip #3: Plan appropriate time for team members
Once a good brainstorming session on planning has been run with the team, the project manager can consolidate the information into a schedule, taking into account the availability of resources, to come up with a realistic schedule the team can commit to. Reviewing the schedule with resource managers will generate support during project execution.
Tip #4: Ensure team members know when & what to do
We recommend not to build too complex a schedule. You want to manage the schedule, not the schedule to manage you. Complementary to the schedule, a simple Excel grouping several types of information, provides for a single collaboration tool within the team. We call this excel the teambook. It includes the action log, decision log, risks & issue log, a high-level view of the schedule that can be used to communicate (e.g. in project steering committees), and any other information that the team might find useful.
Tip #5: Assess and communicate project health
During project execution, it is important to communicate about project health in a simple way so that all stakeholders stay informed and do not face unexpected surprises. A structured status report including traffic lights, explanations about any yellow or red traffic light, main achievements and next steps, and above all, decisions to be made/issues to be escalated is the right tool for this purpose. A one-page document should be enough.
Tip #6: Solve rapidly issues
Issues arise during the project. Some of them might be foreseen and planned for in the form of risks. Good risk management, including planning and monitoring, allows to avoid, minimize or react quickly to risks becoming real issues.
Tip #7: Ensure mistakes are not repeated
At the beginning of every project, it is very useful to read lessons learned from previous similar projects and take them into account in the planning.
These 7 tips related each to one major project management tool/template should enable you to avoid many pitfalls.
Do you want to know more ? We offer a 3-day training on the tools covered in this white paper. This provides the basic knowledge any project manager may need.