Successful Project Management
It should be the case that a well-trained and experienced Project Manager will always deliver successful projects. However, there are many factors that can cause a project to fail and the skills and knowledge of the Project Manager are not always enough to prevent failure. Although poor project management can often be the cause of a project failing, the causes are often not connected to the Project Manager or even the project team. It is obviously unrealistic to expect all risks to be eliminated, but there are some steps that can be taken to improve successful project management.
Making Your Case
Implementing best practices within an existing organisation can be a costly endeavour and this can result in the request to do so being rejected by senior management. In order to have your request for new implementations approved, you will need to make your case to the senior authorities.
There are numerous ways to do this but the key theme is to show the additional value these changes will bring to the organisation and how they will reduce costs over the long term. Identify and analyse the real reputational, operational and financial costs that are associated with project failure within the organisation. It is usually far more useful to quote accurate figures that relate directly to the business in question, rather than statistics based on other organisations.
Determine the skills gaps within the business and the costs of providing the training that would address that issue. It should also be possible to estimate the cost of cancelled, failed and ineffective projects. It is guaranteed that these costs will be immensely greater than the costs involved to further train staff and embed best practices within the organisation. It is also likely to help your case if you can propose ways in which to reduce the costs of these changes or make them less of a burden to the company. An example of this is to incorporate the costs of tailored project management training into the budgets for new and upcoming projects. There are also training providers that offer significantly discounted training packages for corporate clients.
If you do your research and provide various options to complement your request, you will have a far greater chance of the request being approved by senior management.
Quality training is something that cannot be mentioned enough. Experience is highly important in Project Management but it cannot always account for everything. Starting from the foundation of high quality training is the best way to get a project off to the right start.
Consistency is one of the best weapons against project failure and in order to achieve this, standardised procedures and processes for managing projects should be adopted throughout the organisation. A uniformed approach establishes rules and expectations for the entire project team and allows for a common language for project management. This will make sure that there is regular communication and that stakeholder engagement becomes a natural part of the process.
PRINCE2® training addresses these factors and teaches the ways in which to implement them, as well as how to use them most effectively. The PRINCE2 method is based on creating a common language to ensure an efficient and effective approach to project management.
When project management focuses only on the methodology as a concept, without addressing the practical implementation, there is a greater chance of project failure. The PRINCE2 method is flexible enough to be tailored and applied to the needs of many different kinds of projects and organisations.
The training for Project Managers and project team members should include examples of how the best practices are applied on a practical level. Ongoing support such as mentoring systems and project management networks enable Project Managers to have access to the knowledge and experience of others in the field. This is enormously beneficial in avoiding, preventing and overcoming the problems that can arise during the life of a project; as well as further developing the skills of project management practitioners.
Technology can be a vital tool in improving the capabilities of anyone involved in project management. Learning project management skills is not only beneficial to Project Managers – any project team member can profit from the skills and knowledge gained by further studies.
Modern technology has multiple offerings when it comes to what can be studied and how it can be achieved. Social learning, e-learning, integrated learning and even mobile learning are all readily available and can be used by anyone who has access to the technology. Laptops, tablets and smart phones make learning portable and it is now easier than ever to learn, or re-learn, essential skills. A massive advantage to this type of learning is that it can be done at your own pace and at a time that is convenient to you. Learning is no longer limited to the classroom.
Not only is learning new skills important to improving project management productivity – refreshing existing skills and knowledge, as well as updating the information that you already know are also extremely important. The world of project management is fast-paced and it is vital to keep up to date with emerging trends and changes to the industry. Make good use of the technology at your disposal and you will be a successful and sought after Project Manager.
A key factor that has been noted as a common cause of project failure is the lack of good communication. It is a best practice to communicate early and to communicate frequently – whether it is good news or bad news. Project Managers often, mistakenly, feel that having to report that project progress is slow or over budget is an admission of failure on their part. It is in the best interest of every project to enable honest and open channels of communication between all parties that are involved. This will enable issues and problems to be addressed and dealt with before they can lead to failure of the project. The earlier that a problem is dealt with; the more options there are available to rectify the situation. And the earlier that a situation is resolved; the greater the chance for delivering a successful project.
The PRINCE2 method allows for a common language in project management but this does not replace the need for appropriate communication. Ensure that you not only practice excellent communication, but that you promote and encourage amongst the members of your team.
Implementing these steps in your approach to project management will greatly improve your abilities as a Project Manager and this, in turn, will better successful project management.