- Posted by jasonwestland on August 24th, 2010
Want to improve your project success? In this article we’ll tell you in what way, by naming our Topmost 10 hints. So here they are...
10 Points To have a Successful Project
1. Beginning out: Make certain that when you start out your customer specifies their requirements in depth. You want to recognize exactly what it is that must be presented, to who and under what circumstances. Make it proper, write it up orderly and get them to sign it off. This document will turn the ground upon which to evaluate your success.
2. Customers: Include your customers throughout the total project life cycle. Get them active in the analysis and preparation, as well as implementation. You don’t have to look for their approval, just keep them knowledgeable. The more you involve them, the greater their level of buy-in and the lighter it is to deal with their anticipations.
3. Timeframes: Keep your delivery timeframes low and realistic. Never correspond to long timeframes. Separate the project into “mini-projects” if you need to. Keep all mini-project to less than 6 months. This keeps everybody motivated and concentrated.
4. Milestones: Separate your project timeframe into “Milestones” which are attainable parts of job. Put delivery deadlines to your milestones and try to deliver on each deadline, no matter what. If you’re late, utter to your customer about it as earlier as possible.
5. Communicating: Make sure you let everyone educated by offering the proper information at the proper period. Create Weekly Condition Reports and lead frequent team conferences. Use these Project Management Templates to spare you time.
6. Scope: Just authorize modifications to your project scope if there is no affect on the timeline. Make your customers commendation to essential scope converts 1st and then have their buy-in to expand the deliverance dates if you want to.
7. Quality: Continue the quality of your deliverables as higher as possible. Forever reexamine quality and never let it slip. Implement “peer surveys” so that team members can survey each others deliverables. Then put in place external surveys to ensure that the quality of the solution fills your customer’s wants.
8. Problems: Jump on risks and issues as soon as they are identified. Prioritize and resolve them before they impact on your project. Take pride in keeping hazards and issues to a minimal.
9. Deliverables: As each deliverable is through, deliver it formally over to your customer. Get them to sign an Acceptance Form to say that it meets their expectations. Only then can you check every deliverable off as 100% complete.
10. Your team: Special projects are work by good teams. Hire the finest people you can afford. Spend the period to find the proper individuals. It will keep you time down the track. Think, good people are easily to motivate. Present them the visual sense and how they can make it materialize. Trust and believe in them. Let them feel appreciated. They will work fantastic.
- Posted by Amitnstein on July 19th, 2010
1. Poor planning:
Who are your IT managers and do they get enough opportunity to plan or under pressure from senior management they tend to think planning as a waste of time because they believe that time is better spent doing something rather than planning. Do you involve your project team in planning? Do they have the skills and experience to make complete plans? Or you always ask them to implement the solution. These are fundamental questions that need to be answered first.
2. Unclear goals and objectives:
Many IT projects are elaborated progressively and in these scenarios project managers rely on rolling wave planning. As a result, the goal of a project may be only partially clear due to a poor requirement gathering in the definition stage of the project. In such case, the scope and schedule developed by project managers cannot possibly be accurate because their objectives are unclear. Defining clear requirements for a project can take time and lots of communication.
3. Poor Stakeholder Management:
Project stakeholders’ interests may be positively or negatively impacted by the project and that is why stakeholders’ influence on the project is the most important thing to consider. Stakeholders who are found later will make changes and could cause delays. Any change that is made later is harder to integrate and is much more costly.
4. Scope creep and Feature creep due to objectives changing during the project :
Uncontrolled and unexpected changes in user /stakeholder expectations and requirements as a project progress always negatively impact a project. This is known as scope creep. Many times new features are added to the project with a wrong assumption that one small feature will add nothing to cost or schedule. This unplanned addition is called feature creep.
5. Unrealistic time or resource estimates:
Many times project managers make costly mistakes while estimating time or resources. One common mistake is made during the creation of the Work Breakdown Structure. Often it is assumed that the time on task equals duration. Project managers estimate the time on task is the time the task will take to complete. How about interruptions? Some may be known and some may be unknown. Do project managers anticipate interruptions? In reality duration is the time the task actually takes to complete including interruptions.
Another common problem is using linear approximation when estimating the schedule For example, if you double the number of developers, you can cut the project time in half. In reality, doubling the number of developers produces a non-linear result.
6. Improper delegation of task and responsibilities:
Many times project managers fail to delegate tasks and responsibilities to the team in such a way that they should fit team members' job descriptions. When team members are asked to work outside their specialization (often as added responsibilities), they not only go through a learning curve but also tend to lose focus on the project objectives. This always results in confusion among the team members and eventually cost and time overruns.
7. Lack of executive support and user involvement:
IT managers face many difficulties in managing projects and the lack of executive support and user involvement are the two main reasons of IT project failures. Many times IT project managers work as project coordinators or project expediters and without executive support they cannot personally make and enforce decisions. The second reason is user involvement and often the project planners fail to plan human solutions to the very human users that the product is proposed to serve.
8. Failure to communicate and act as a team:
Projects sometimes fail due to improper communication. Many large IT projects are so complex that these projects always require large amount of analysis and work. The project teams are busy doing the analysis, creating WBS, time estimation etc. and project managers do not communicate progress regularly because they believe that progress will not be seen by the executive management or they fear of improper reporting.
9. Lack of proper risk management:
Another potential cause for project failure is the IT managers’ inability to categorize all the risks qualitatively and quantitatively and implement corrective measures.
10. Inappropriate skills:
The rapid changes of the technology-driven business environment and the constant changes of technology make it hard to predict skills the IT department will be needed.
Almost all large IT projects require a diverse range of skills. Many teams lack the breadth, and depth they require. Also dearth of qualified people in the labor market and high attrition rate of the industry add many problems to the projects. Often, projects mangers spend substantial amount of their time in recruitment related activities.
- Posted by jasonwestland on July 15th, 2010
We’re often asked “Why are templates so valuable” so we thought we’d answer the question in this Article. There are 5 reasons why managers and teams find templates so useful. They are as follows:
They save you time
On every new project, you have to fill-in documents to plan, track and report on the status of your project. The process of filling in documents, takes time. Especially when many of the documents are a one-off.
By using templates, you can save time completing project documents. Well written templates should already be pre-formatted with all of the sections, tables, charts and forms you need to fill-in. This way, you can avoid having to spend time formatting your documents and purely focus on filling them in. On average, most people save 25% of their time completing project documents, by using properly formatted project templates.
They give you direction
The first step most people go through when they know they have to create a project document, is to search the internet or their file folder to work out what it is that needs to be included. But if you use good quality templates, then they will direct you through the steps you need to take to create each project document. Direction is important because if you go down the wrong track with your document, your project will be at risk. Proper project templates will keep you headed in the right direction, by making sure you complete the right content at the right time.
They make it easier
In short, a good quality template will make the task of creating a project document, as easy as 1-2-3. You don’t have to stress about what need to go in your document, how to format it or how to write it up. The template will tell you what information needs to be entered and where. And it should include practical examples to help you along the way. This makes your job easy.
They boost your quality
It makes sense that if you’re completing a high quality template, that you will generate high quality documentation. If you want to generate documents of the quality that professional project management consultants generate, then use project templates that match this level of quality. By using top quality templates to deliver top quality documents, you will boost your project success.
They give you confidence
Have you ever been asked to write a document that you’re unfamiliar with or have never written before? If so, then by using a template, you will have the document layout, tables, charts and completion instructions at your finger tips. All you need to do is to fill-in the gaps. By using templates to complete new documents, you will gain a higher level of confidence in your work, helping you to excel.
Jason Westland has been in the project management industry for over 15 years, manageing multimillion doller projects. Jason now owns a company who specialise in project management templates and can be found at http://www.method123.com
- Posted by Tathagat on September 16th, 2009
Project Management is perhaps one of the most fiercely debated and grossly misunderstood disciplines in the software field currently, hence let me throw in a disclaimer first: if you are a small team of experts and/or people well-known to each other (e.g., have worked together as a team earlier), and situated in a collocated fashion, doing a lot of ‘creative work’ that can’t be very ‘accurately’ scoped, let alone managed; you probably will find ideas of formal project management a huge overkill (on time, effort, money and might even seem to stifle creativity), and you might be better off considering ‘lightweight’ methods like Agile Project Management / Scrum in the context of software development (well, nothing stops you from deploying pieces of Agile / Scrum in a non-software context – it is based on common sense after all). Small projects, small teams can afford to define a process that exploits the tailwind:
- A small and collocated team means more direct interaction among team members and lesser management overheads in formalizing project communication (e.g., project status reporting, team meetings, etc.). This reduces the time it takes to collate, transmit and share important project information and also decreases the possibility of information distortion or confusion. A small team means there is high signal to noise ratio in team communications, is also leads to a better utilization of time spent in transmissing, receiving or digesting communication. Further, to schedule any event, one can always convene impromptu meetings around a whiteboard or around the coffee table without worrying about people’s already double-booked calendars or finding a place large enough to fit the team for the next meeting, and so on.
- Having a group of experts means there is low(er) need for managerial supervision and people are generally ‘hand-picked’ for their knowledge, skills and abilities that could typically be ‘mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive’. This ensures tight interdepency and very high mutual respect among team members. There is lesser ‘competition’ among team members and everyone knows that “united we stand, divided we fall” which fosters teambuilding.
- For a small project, a large swing in any of the project constraints (time, cost, scope) could seriously and irretrievably impact the project in a downward spiral. If the work is new to the team, it could spell bigger trouble, especially if there is no way to do mid-course corrections. Executing projects in an iterative fashion helps shorten the feedback loop and give a chance to make necessary corrections to improve its ability to stay on-course and eventually hit the target. Additionally, if there is a customer involvement on these short iterations, the quality and value of these feedbacks could improve substantially lest any decisions are made that are hard to change if required.
However, if your project is anything more than a handful of people, takes more than a few months and entails issues like external dependencies with multiple vendors and ISVs (Independent Software Vendors), substantial technical and managerial risks, subcontracting / co-development, etc., you probably might improve chances of success using a formal project management methodology like PMBoK or PRINCE2 than without it. Agilists will argue and disagree with me that Agile / Scrum is not suited for large projects, but if you are new to Agile as well as to large projects, you might want to consider all options and associated risks – don’t believe in what worked for others, it might or might not work for you (remember the golden rule – we are all different), and your company might have a different set of constraints and tolerance to performance.
The size, complexity, criticality, and risk profile of a project, and organizational appetite for project risk and uncertainty, and organizational culture would generally determine the level and need of management control required, and hence one must always right-size the project management methodology based on the context. Both, PMBoK / PRINCE2 and Agile methods evolved in response to challenges seen in executing projects successfully. While PMBoK / PRINCE2 took the approach that projects most often failed due to lack right levels of management oversight, planning, execution and control; Agillists felt the key reason was the fundamental nature of software being a ‘wicked problem‘ that just could not be managed using an obsolete waterfall model of developing software - it needed a better way to develop software in short iterations with very close-knit self-managed teams.
Without getting my loyalties needlessly divided betwen the two of these approaches, I believe there are merits in both the thoughts. I refuse to believe that any non-trivial project can be managed by piecemeal iterations that give no commitment whatsoever on the overall project performance, nor give any method to assess if the overall project is indeed on the right track (so, even if first few iterations are achieving the desired ‘veolcity’, what is the guarantee that subsequent iterations will also move at the same pace?). On the other hand, doing an iterative development is highly intiutive and very effective way to learn from past experiences to plan next steps, especilly on any non-routine project that is full of unknowns and assumptions. To me, these represent ‘mix-and-match’ ideas that one should pick up and apply wherever required, without getting baptized to the school of thought. I find most process wars have taken the disproportionate dimensions of falling just short of religious wars – you have to belong to one of the camps, and must talk evil about the other camp to be seen as a law-abiding corporate citizen of that camp. In life, we borrow ideas around us – our housing society, professional volunteer society we volunteer for, our kids playground, gardening, home improvement, nature, science, religion, other cultures…without necessarily converting to another faith or religion or society just because we like an idea that we want to borrow. So why should that be required in project management methods ???
I think this process war will be won by pragmatics. Those who take a position on extreme ends of the continuum and insist on always applying a particular style as the panacea might be in for a complete surprise because no two problems were created equal. A prudent approach is to evaluate all options and then decide which is the best response to a problem, as opposed to blindly follow a project management approach ‘religiously’.
Do you follow your project management aproach ‘religiously’ ?
[From my blog Manage Well, http://managewell.net]
- Posted by Keith Casey on October 26th, 2005
While on the train heading to Paul Graham's Startup School, I brought along quite a bit of reading material. I was hoping to sleep, but I was also hoping to catch up on some reading while I couldn't be distracted with various tasking, email, etc, etc.
For example, the first thing I read was an article on "Software Development Cost Estimating" and I dug into it with interest. I happen to have a very particular way that I do my estimating - which seems to be quite accurate by the way - but I'm always looking out for more and better methods. This wasn't one of them... let me analyze this one step by step.