By Morgan International Staff Writers
This is the big question and often the elephant in the room – will my project be successful? Some projects fail – it is a fact of life, and in the career of any Project Manager, I expect there will be failed projects. The reason for the failure could be one of many, and in my experience it is typically because of lack of support from senior management, or an issue with project budget. We also need to remember that success is set at a project level, and therefore it should be defined in a way that is achievable within the scope of that project. That said, there are some ways that you can predict the success or failure of your project.
Imagine the same project but one has its resources utilised at 150% and the other at 50%. It does not take a genius to work out that unless the project at 150% resource utilisation can attract more resources, or reduce its scope, then project success will be incredibly difficult to achieve. This point is not particularly relevant in examples where the utilisation between projects differs by a small margin such as a few percent.
Firstly, project success is reliant on having enough money to complete all of the tasks in scope. That really is a very basic point. Secondly, regardless of planning, sometimes there are unexpected events or discoveries that require extra cash. Therefore the size of the budget contingency is a very important variable. In the event that there is not a pre-agreed contingency, success will relate to how easy it is to get additional project funds signed off.
The scope is set out at the beginning of the project, but that can be altered – typically through the change control process. Scope could decrease, but it is much more likely in my experience that scope will increase. Therefore it is imperative that the resource and budget increases to sustain the additional work. If scope increases and resource and budget do not increase (but it needs to), then that puts additional strain onto the project and increases the chances of failure.
It should be evident that the project success factors are inextricably linked. For example scope creep should not necessarily negatively impact a projects chance of success so long as budget and resourcing can increase. No Project Manager wants to see one of their projects fail, but it is inevitable that it will happen at some stage during a career, and the important thing is to learn from the mistakes made.
By Morgan International Staff Writers
A Project Manager has a broad and varied role. For each project they manage the budget, schedule, resources, communication to various stakeholders, and so on. One of the most important aspects of their role is managing resources and getting those individuals to do what they need them to do and at the right time. Usually there is a project team, of which all may be dedicated to the project, and some/all might have part time responsibilities. The success of the project will rely on the output of the project team, and typically how effectively they can work together. The Project Manager is responsible for ensuring the team does come together and perform, and we are going to look at some practical ways that this can be coaxed along.
- Properly introduce the team
The great thing about technology is that we can connect the best talent globally into virtual teams. The downside of this can be that individuals within a project team may never get to meet face to face. Therefore it is important to overcompensate for that by bringing the team together on a video conference (or telephone conference) and get them to introduce themselves and then work together in dedicated sessions at least fortnightly in this way.
- Encourage team input
This can be a difficult one as there will naturally be members of any team that are more dominant than others and provide their input more freely. This does not mean their input is more valuable than the other team members, and as project manager you should encourage each and every person to have a voice. At first this may be done through update meetings and encouraging quieter members to speak in on calls. Hopefully in time input will become more balanced without your encouragement.
- Make sure each team member is accountable
A good way to make team members accountable is to introduce them to the end customer of the project and ensure they have interaction and ownership for the aspect of the project they are working on.
- Team availability
There are two aspects to this. First of all, it is important to ensure each team member has the bandwidth to undertake their project responsibilities. The second is that you should have full awareness of all holidays and other commitments that will shift the team members focus off of the project. A project team shared calendar is a great way to ensure team members have transparency of each other’s availability.
- Use a collaboration tool
There are an abundance of options such as SharePoint, Huddle, Redbooth and so on. They allow online collaboration such as sharing documents and posting notes and chatting. It provides a space for the team to collaborate without those outside of the team being able to view the content.
A Project Manager has a very wide remit and within that is managing the project team. The more productive that team becomes, the more time the PM will have to focus on other activities. Therefore it is important to get the team working well and collaborating by focussing on the tips provided above. A useful place to start for a career in Project Management is the PMP qualification.
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