Topic 12.15: A final, final word...
So what can we do to anticipate and avoid it?
Here are 10 lessons from successful projects that might help…
Projects need to be aligned to organisational goals. It sounds almost too obvious to state, but great ideas may not always be in the best interest or structural capacity of the performing organisation. Organisational goals change over time too, and projects can get left behind. Without that clear association between the project and the goals of the organisation, management support is quickly lost.
And projects need effective management support. Effective management support includes an empowered sponsor willing to champion the project, and the buy-in of the executive team ultimately funding it.
Projects need effective leadership, too. Hopefully the earlier presentation on the perfect project manager made this clear! The project team must have a positive results focus and customer orientation, and a strong sense of collaboration and teamwork.
Extending this, all key stakeholders need to be in agreement on the purpose, goals and objectives of the project, share realistic expectations of project results, and have those expectations constantly managed and validated throughout the project. Each stakeholder (including team members) must clearly understand their role(s), responsibilities and relationship to the project.
This depends on project communications being consistent, effective and focused on understanding.
A significant investment must also be made in project planning. Execution should be the easy part! The project scope, approach and deliverables need to be clearly defined and agreed upon during planning. A high priority should be placed on accurate and complete work effort estimates, and a realistic schedule must be developed and agreed.
Effective planning should also guarantee that project resources are fit for purpose and available when needed.
Furthermore, project progress must be measured consistently from the current baseline. Changes to scope, time, cost and quality need to be closely managed, and project issues and subsequent actions should be aggressively pursued.
Better still, the project team should proactively identify risk and determine responses to reduce project exposure. After all, the prevention of issues is always far better than our attempts at cure.
And finally, project learnings should be retained and transferred from project to project within the organisation.
Well if you learn nothing else, know this: the three critical factors for project success are planning, communication, and change management.
Now you have everything you need to be a successful project manager!
As you start or continue your journey into the wonderful world of projects, keep in mind that project management is more than a task, job or even a career.
It is a profession with a dynamically evolving body of knowledge and a global community of practice.