Julia couldn't be more frustrated! There were less than three months to finish the project, and yet everything was going wrong. And to top it all, the budget to complete the work was nearly exhausted.
Julia's problem boils down to ineffective project management. She may have failed to complete the steps necessary to prepare for project success. She may have also failed to create a proper plan for the project, the reason why she is in a panic state.
Project management includes all the knowledge areas and disciplines necessary to see a project to completion, such as finances, scheduling, communication, and quality. Here are five critical elements needed for more effective project management:
- Set the project up for success. The project manager must discuss the project with the project sponsor before starting a project. They must agree on the specific success criteria of the project to avoid conflicts and unreasonable delays in the future. Make sure you know what work is necessary, in what time frame, and with what resources. Ask for specific and measurable outcomes the sponsor wants to achieve. These specifics set expectations, and you will have a gauge to measure project management success.
- Define the project scope. On reaching an agreement on outcomes, the project manager must work with the team to drill down to the details and understand all the work required to produce the expected results. Draft and review a detailed scope statement. The scope statement should take the project charter and everything known about the project so far to the next level. It should include any identified deliverables, milestones, acceptance criteria, constraints, and limitations.
- Develop a project plan. With the team, break down the scope into manageable work packages, typically anywhere from a week or two to six weeks in duration. List down all the resources, finances, and logistics you need, as well as the necessary and available human resources. Make a time-based roadmap of the project from start to finish. Make the map realistic to avoid problems later on.
- Team development. Aside from proper planning, a successful project relies on the acquisition and development of the team. A good team makes the life of a project manager easier. The team must participate in planning and be informed of all plans, so they know what is expected of them. Motivate the team and praise each accomplishment, no matter how small.
- Development of a detailed communication plan. Effective project management requires the creation of a comprehensive communication plan, which will enable the efficient flow of information from the project manager to the project sponsor, the team, and the stakeholders. The communication plan must ensure all related information affecting the project is relayed to the proper recipients as soon as possible to avoid delays and misunderstandings.
Proper project management is not complicated, but it requires hard work and planning to ensure the project runs smoothly from start to finish.
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