~ By Duncan Haughey
At the core of practical project management is an ability for keeping things simple. Not getting bogged down in lengthy and unwieldy processes. It does not mean cutting corners. Good project management practice is still necessary; it is about keeping it lean and mean. This, and getting the basics right, will help you deliver a successful project.
Following these basic principles will give your project a good start:
Take a piece of paper and draw a house. Now ask five people to each draw a house and compare it with the one you have drawn. Hey, presto, five houses different from yours. You may have townhouses, family houses, bungalows, maisonettes, the list goes on. All houses, but different in style, size, layout, decor and many other ways. The same applies to project requirements. Your view of the customer's needs could be different to that of your customer. Ensure you gather a concise, accurate and signed-off set of requirements before you start building.
Does everyone in your team understand the project well enough to give an elevator speech? If the answer is no, create a one-page executive summary of the project that contains all of the essential information. The content of your executive summary might look something like this:
Circulate this summary to all of your stakeholders before you start the project.
By now, you've now got an agreed set of requirements and have communicated the project to everyone that needs to know. It's time to begin. Arrange a project kick-off meeting:
At the meeting, ask attendees to explain what the project is aiming to deliver and to describe their involvement. Also, ask what they need, what the potential problems are and how they are going to manage them.
Now the project is underway you must deliver the plan; communicate progress and manage resources. Here is where you earn your money.
You've created something new; now people must use it.
Follow-up by having pre-arranged meetings in place to ensure everything is working as planned.
Watch out for these commonplace project management gotchas:
A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.
These are some of the important items you need to bear in mind before, during and after project delivery:
Keep your project processes simple. Hefty project processes can be a disabler to killing projects. As English businessman, Sir John Harvey-Jones recognised,
There are times when you have to kill your favourite children. He was talking about businesses, but the same applies to projects.
A successful project comes with great leadership, not lengthy and unwieldy project management processes, so keep it simple!
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