Key Ingredients to Successful Project Execution

What is A Project?

Is a series of tasks that need to be completed in order to reach a specific outcome. A project is a unique, transient endeavour, undertaken to achieve planned objectives, which could be defined in terms of outputs, outcomes or benefits. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. Projects can range from simple to complex and can be managed by one person or a hundred.

Project Management

The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. The practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a  team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified

Starting Out in Project Management

Each project stage is characterized by a distinct set of activities that take the project from the first idea to its conclusion. Each stage is of equal importance and contributes to the overall success of the project. Make sure that you review the business case at the end of each project phase to ensure that it’s still valid. If anything has changed, revise it as needed.

Main steps in Project Management

1. Definition

Initiation is perhaps the most important stage of any project as it sets the terms of reference within which the project will be run. If this is not done well, the project will have a high probability of failure. It is where the business case is declared, scope of the project decided and stakeholder expectations set. Time spent on planning, refining the business case and communicating the expected benefits will help improve the probability of success.

2. Planning

The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first task you should do when undertaking any project. Often project planning is ignored in favour of getting on with the work. However, many people fail to realize the value of a project plan in saving time, money and for avoiding many other problems. This phase typically begins with setting goals. Two of the more popular methods for setting goals are S.M.A.R.T. and CLEAR:

3. Execution

This is where the work to deliver the product, service or wanted result is carried out. Most of the work related to the project is realized at this stage and needs complete attention from the project manager.

4. Monitoring and Control

This is where the work to deliver the product, service or wanted result is carried out. Most of the work related to the project is realised at this stage and needs complete attention from the project manager

5. Closure

Often neglected, it is important to make sure the project is closed properly. Many projects do not have a clear end-point because there is no formal sign-off. It is important to get the customers’ agreement that the project has ended, and no more work will be carried out. Once closed, the project manager should review the project and record the good and bad points, so that in the future, successes can be repeated, and failures avoided. A project that is not closed will continue to consume resources.

Tips and Habits of a Successful Project Manager

Spearheading a project isn’t a walk in the park. You would be responsible for its planning, execution and completion, as well as the aggregation of separate tasks by teams and individuals into a cohesive whole. Grace under pressure is always an essential. As a PM, you might work on small or large teams with job duties that range from budget and timeline only to everything you can think of under the operational sun.

1. Be a Proactive Manager

Step ahead of the client’s needs. Set up ways to communicate with everyone involved and hold each member accountable for their part of the total picture. A great way to do this is by incorporating all stakeholders.

2. Define Scope

If your company doesn’t have documentation to back up a specific project request, create it. It doesn’t have to be a fancy, formal document! But some semblance of a scope will help provide you and your team with guidelines and expectations of what the team will deliver. It’s also good practice to sit down with your team and clients at the beginning of a project to review the scope in conjunction with the project timeline. This means that you have to explain levels of effort attached to tasks.

3.  Begin with the End in Mind

When multiple people take a project, and break it down into pieces of their own real estate, it sometimes can get difficult to stay focused on the final picture. Everyone’s work must come together in the end. It is much easier to work together when everyone is focused on the final team outcome, not on stealing the spotlight and looking like a rock star.

4. Communicate like a Pro

This means speaking to people in person about a variety of topics – both easy and difficult in nature. It’s a fact: Any project will fail without a line of solid communication. Being clear, concise, and honest when coordinating projects is key.

5. Put First Things First

Covey says to always do your big rocks – your most impactful, important things first. This means, you don’t allow little distractions and rabbit trails to take away your focus from the main areas in your project.

6. Don’t Forget Behaviors and Attitudes

Remember, it’s not all about you and your process as the PM. It is all about working with the team to come up with a structure that works for everyone. Getting to know the people you work with and understand how they work and communicate is important when trying to motivate a team and accomplish deadlines, or even simple goals. Many times, a PM needs to be a project chameleon to make this happen.

7.Don’t Be A Know-It-All

A project manager should never answer to project issues completely alone unless they are specific to budget, scope, and pre-determined guidelines. After all, your team is made up of experts who are responsible for answering questions that fall within their realm. Your job is to farm questions to them without getting in the way of their work.

There’s nothing wrong with following-up on a conversation when the time is right. That’s when you become a successful project manager.  Synergy simply means that you can do more as a team than you can as an individual.

8.Ensure Everyone on the team understands their specific piece of the work

Some great saw-sharpening concepts more specifically geared to project management are taking the time to ensure everyone on the team understands their specific piece of the work, how it integrates with others, and that all parties are clear on expectations. It could mean creating a project timeline and framework so everyone stays updated on the work and communicates effortlessly. It may mean sending people to take additional training to ensure they are more familiar with their project or ways to do their work more efficiently. You may also need to make sure everyone is familiar with the guidelines, budgets, and rules of a project to avoid costly mistakes.

9. Think Win Win

It is often more challenging to find a win / win scenario. It takes more creativity, more consideration, and more communication than some people want to invest. However, when you put forth the effort to come away with a solution that benefits everyone, you open further doorways into increased productivity, team trust, and overall project synergy.

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