Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Ten Tips for Running Successful Projects

~ By Leslie Allan

Tick on a target

Why do so many projects fail? Researchers regularly conduct studies to find out the leading causes of project failure. Some of the studies are in the public domain. You can look up studies by such groups as Gartner, Carnegie Mellon University and the Project Management Institute. The studies reveal a recurring theme. Here are some of the common causes they identify:

  • Poorly defined organisational objectives
  • Loose project sponsorship and executive leadership
  • Project manager untrained
  • Loose scope containment and project change control
  • Poorly defined requirements
  • Lack of consultation with key project stakeholders
  • No risk management plan
  • Unrealistic project estimates

Do any of these look familiar to you? Do you recognise one or more as handicaps in your organisation? I have summarised below the top ten things you can do to improve the chances of success of your projects:

  1. Before you start your project, find a committed project sponsor who has sufficient clout in your organisation. Your project sponsor will prove invaluable in helping you overcome organisational roadblocks as they arise.
  2. Analyse who are your project's key stakeholders and communicate with them throughout the project. Your stakeholders can make or break your project. Compile a stakeholder communication plan with the help of your project team and sponsor.
  3. Get your sponsor and key stakeholders together to thrash out the measures of success of your project. How will you know if your project has succeeded? What are the key indicators of success? Get everyone on the same page from the outset.
  4. Decide upfront the methodology you will use on your project. What project phases will the project proceed through? What will be the key go/no go decision points? What are the expected project outputs for each phase?
  5. Draw up a project schedule that clearly allocates project tasks to team members. Identify which tasks depend on others for their successful completion. Communicate schedule progress regularly to all team members and to the project's sponsor.
  6. Make sure that project changes don't get out of hand by reviewing and authorising all proposed changes. Evaluate each proposed change for the impact on project cost, quality and schedule.
  7. Do not let an unforeseen event sink your project. Find out what risks can threaten your project and build a risk mitigation strategy into your project plan. Issues will also arise from time to time, so you will need to keep track of these and communicate their impact to all concerned.
  8. Decide at the start which documents your project will generate and when. For medium and small sized projects, keep documentation requirements to a manageable level without significantly increasing the risk to the project.
  9. Once your project finishes, use the measures of success that you agreed at the start to evaluate project performance. Was it within budget? Was it on schedule? Did it produce what it was meant to produce, and at the required quality? What can you learn from this? Now report your project's performance to your sponsor and the key stakeholders.
  10. Follow up with the key stakeholders and your project team members and find out how they felt about the project. Was the project a success from their perspective? How did the project impact them personally? From this you will discover what went well and what did not go so well. Apply these lessons to your next project.

Successful projects do not just happen. They require structured planning, the right tools, insightful management and good interpersonal skills. Use the ten tips above to help make your next project a winner.


Leslie Allan is Managing Director of Business Performance Pty Ltd and editor of A Guide to Project Management Visit his company's website at Business Perform for a range of practical project management tools and templates and to download the free project management guide introductory chapter.

© Leslie Allan. All rights reserved.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
1500
What is the next number: 10, 12, 14, ..?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

The Risky Business of Project Management

Three red dice reading: Manage your risk

It is important at the beginning of any project to go through the risk identification process. Not all project risks are obvious, so here's how.

Coming to Terms With the Finish Date

Colourful calendar pages

Every project has a finish date. This article looks at how the finish date for a project is derived and how a project team comes to terms with that date.

Building Your Project Team

Friendly successful project team of young executives

How should you set about choosing people for your project and forming them into a well functioning project team?

72 Project Management Tips

Hand holding a key with success written on the fob

Here are 72 project management tips designed to help you lead your projects with skill, authority and grace.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Duncan commented on…
10 Rules of Highly Successful Project Management
- Mon 26 September 7:50am

John Corbett commented on…
10 Rules of Highly Successful Project Management
- Mon 19 September 1:36pm

London Management Centre commented on…
Get Maximum Benefits of Merging Top-down and Bottom-up Project Management
- Mon 19 September 11:29am

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: Software Product Delivery Plan for an Agile project https://t.co/qlwUTdDgAa #pm #projectsmart about 1 hour ago

General Project Management • Re: Best/cheapest online PRINCE2 Foundation course with exam included https://t.co/qRvyY1ZXVj #pm #projectsmart about 1 hour ago

Here are some basic rules of reporting status that you can use to further your reputation https://t.co/eOfIohem8R #projectsmart #pmot about 13 hours ago