Find out how to increase the efficiency of your IT projects
If most projects were completed in the same way they had been drawn up on paper, managers’ lives would be a lot easier. However, we know that reality is not like that and, for this, IT organizations or non-project oriented organizations need to improve their skills constantly, while managing to achieve success in their endeavors. However, companies that are not project-oriented and that do not have a project management office, or a level of maturity in this area, have more difficulty to achieve success in their endeavors.
Research on the maturity of the project area, best practices and methodologies, such as those carried out by Pmsurvey.org, indicate that the more mature the company in this area, the best results in the execution of their projects. However, even if an organization adopts more efficient and modern methodologies in project management, it is vital to be aware of everything on a daily basis to ensure that their efforts are not wasted. With that in mind, we have prepared 8 tips for making a project management more efficient. Check out the full list:
1. Adopt only One Methodology
The discussion about what is the best methodology to manage an IT project can be endless, but we must recognize that most of them have sufficient elements to help organizations achieve their goals.
Thus, the first tip is to understand if the project team and their clients are more inclined to more traditional methodologies of project development (cascaded) or if they can already manage to work with agile methods that make task more dynamic during execution. After choosing a methodology, try to keep it until the end of the project to ensure end-to-end standardization.
2. Frequently Align Expectations
The same project usually has many stakeholders who have different expectations throughout the enterprise. Therefore, another helpful tip is to have the manager get to know in depth the expectations of sponsors, clients, suppliers and staff and, where necessary, hold meetings or send memos to align them periodically. This will prevent conflicts during the execution of the steps in the project, saving time and resources.
3. Send the ‘scope creep’ away: the famous Frankenstein Project
Any professional with a minimum of experience in managing projects must have already participated in project in which a scope became a true Frankenstein throughout the execution of the project.
In order to avoid the ‘scope creep’, the manager must excel in the planning phase, clearly defining the scope and arranging to have a formal acceptance from the client, so that the project details and peculiarities are only understood during its execution.
4. Keep your Feet on the Ground
Unrealistic estimates of hours needed for completing a task can be a real mess for any project. So, when organizing the schedule, an important tip is to align and approve the estimates of time with team members involved in the task, avoiding unpleasant surprises at the time of execution.
One of the greatest nightmares of IT decision-makers is certainly the execution of projects. Any experienced manager has been through projects that were abandoned in the middle of the road due to changes in priorities or by constant delays that break the trust relationship between the sponsor and the project manager. A down-to-Earth project with well-defined milestones transmits a lot more confidence and has more chance to go further than the projects that promise a lot.
5. Promote Communication
Many surveys conducted with managers throughout the world usually reveal that communication is one of the most recurrent causes for failures in projects. Therefore, invest in all the tools and practices you can reach not only for each person to understand their role in the project, but also so that they can keep updated about their results and feed the rest of the team with information about their own performance.
The PMBOK Guide discusses that communication is vital in a project, and may sentence its success or its failure. According to the book, we must first know who the parties involved are in the project and which form of communication will be employed. For example, an IT project may involve other areas such as engineering. In this case, the e-mail communication, corporate social networks or some software for project management may not work for the communication with the leader of the construction site, which may be made by telephone, for example.
The lesson learned in this tip is that in order to favor communication it is only necessary to plan it so that all those involved directly or indirectly in the project can communicate clearly and can reach everyone, minimizing noise.
6. Draw the boundaries: Change Management and Risk Forecast
Any type of project, from the most simple to the most complex, is subject to change and to the risks that can significantly change its scope or derail its continuity and consequently cause a premature termination. Generally, when there is any change, the project manager has to sit with all the stakeholders to communicate these changes, such as deadlines, impact on the rest of the project and, eventually, even redo the project budget.
You must know that all projects undergo changes and that this is a natural situation. It is very unlikely a project will present no changes. If this happens, it is because it is not a project but an operation that has already been tested or is recurring and usual.
The big secret to deal with changes is to study the risks involved in the projects and to think of good strategies to address changes when they occur. In addition, you must inform what the strategies for risks are, describing the standard procedure to study your solution.
Among the three main causes of projects failures is the inefficiency in managing risks. Effective risk management starts with the registration of any risk, translated into threats or opportunities for the project. Moreover, it should involve and commit all the main stakeholders in the success of the project to mitigate the risks, so that they do not become eminent problems.
7. No project succeeds without people
Projects are carried out with human resources and in order to get the best performance from everyone the project manager must plan ahead with his team. When you manage anything, even your time, you are dealing with people, even if it is only yourself. No people, no project. Therefore, those managers who only demand deadlines, because they learned in college this was what could bring results, is missing the best of life and of projects, such as the contact with each other, getting to know other points of views and really form a team.
8. Document History
The last and the most important tip for future lessons is the documentation of the project history. All projects will bring valuable lessons, either to explain success, or to learn from failure and not make the same mistake again. Through the documentation, not only the mistakes can be assimilated by the executor, but also by the entire team, with access to this information in a knowledge base.
There are many examples of extremely rich and complex projects in terms of variables to be managed, in which the experience of the project manager and the project complexity is a risk that must be actively mitigated. With the record of experience and lessons learned from other projects with similar variables, that this generates less risk of failure. Certainly, there will be a considerable gain for the execution of the project.
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