“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” ~ Amy Poehler
We would like to share with you a compilation of Best Practices for Managing a Project, because, as Amy said, we are open to collaboration!
1 . Understand the Project Scope and Goals
- First, understand the project objectives
- Understanding what is in or out of scope will determine the amount of work which needs to be performed
- Understand who the stakeholders are, get the stakeholders to review and agree to all the deliverables on an introductory Kick-Off meeting
2. Define the Deliverables
- You must define what will be delivered as part of the project. Decide what tangible things will be delivered and document them in enough detail to enable someone else to produce them correctly and effectively.
- Key stakeholders must review the definition of deliverables and must agree they accurately reflect what must be delivered.
3. Project Planning
- As the saying goes, time spent planning is time well-spent. Make sure you have a project plan with enough detail so that everyone involved understands the project’s direction.
- Meet with your project team in order to define what activities are required to produce the deliverables using a Kanban board to reflect all the work in progress. You all must estimate the time and effort required for each activity (tasks), dependencies (if there are any) between activities, and decide on a realistic schedule to complete them.
- Set milestones which indicate critical dates during the project and write them into the project plan. Get the key stakeholders to review and agree to the plan.
Golden rule: Involve your entire team; decide all the goals together.
- Project plans are useless unless they’ve been communicated effectively to the project team and key stakeholders. Every team member needs to know their responsibilities. Inform and communicate with every team member about the goals on the project, not only to achieve their personal tasks but to achieve the overlying project goals set from client.
Golden rule: Communicate all decisions and results with the team to reach a common goal.
5. Manage Expectations (Anxiety Alert!)
- Don’t assume you know your clients’ needs, even if you have run similar projects – take the time to find out what their needs are.
- Meet up with your clients weekly or bi-weekly (depends on the amount of work your team has, and the pace of the project) to review the project status with them. Answer any questions (if you can) that they may have prior to moving forward with the project. This will ensure that both you and your client are on the same page and share the same expectations.
Golden rule: Do not over-promise, be authentic, talk to the client about what you are willing to do for them, when and how you will complete deliverables, and be transparent about the challenges and obstacles involved.
6. Tracking and Reporting Project Progress
- Once your project is underway, you must monitor and compare the actual progress with the planned progress. Frequently ask for progress reports from project team members, and record variations between the actual and planned cost, schedule and scope.
Golden Rule: You can adjust the plan in many ways to get the project back on track, but you will always end up juggling cost, scope and schedule.
7. Say No!
- The most valuable and least-used word in a project manager’s vocabulary is NO. Do not promise anything you know you can’t deliver, as this will guarantee problems later. Stay strong – they’ll thank you later.
Golden Rule: If you have to say no, be firm and ready to explain the reasons behind your decision.
8. Define MUST-HAVE items for the Project
- Define the must-have items the project needs to deliver with your customer.
Golden Rule: All other deliverables are secondary to must-have items.
9. Keep Your Team Motivated
- A motivated team will go the extra mile to deliver a project on time, on budget, and with the right quality. Keep your team motivated by involving them throughout the project. Plan frequent milestones to help them feel they are making progress. Let your team know when they are performing well, not just when they are performing poorly.
10. Close Your Project
- By definition, projects have a finite life. A project will continue to consume resources until it is closed. At the end of a project, agree with the client whether you have met the must-have deliverables.
Golden Rule: You must get the project final sign off.