The Basics of Project Management
There are a number of significant principles which determine success in any project. These are simple and well known principles, however they are difficult to apply and are quite frequently ignored in practice.
1. Precise Business Needs
Successful projects are business driven. This represents the 'why' of the project, and it is important because it provides the basis for all decision making.
2. Defined Benefits
Projects are about translating the business need into the business benefit. In addition to the business need, the 'bottom line' benefits must also be well defined in terms of source, timing and quantity.
3. Explicit Plans
Effective planning, allows people to work together in a co-ordinated way in order to achieve the project objectives. Effective planning is dependent on being at an appropriate level of detail and being presented in an appropriate way.
4. Agreed Deliverables
Quite simply a 'deliverable' is an unambiguous way of defining responsibilities in terms of outputs rather than inputs. Each phase, area and task within the project plan should have a tangible deliverable associated with it, ie. something that one can see, touch, or otherwise validate.
5. Pro-Active Decision Making
Project work has little momentum of its own, unlike routine work. All parties involved are therefore required to take the initiative and actively look for ways of driving and improving the project outcome.
6. Single Point Responsibility
In business tasks are only completed successfully when people have unambiguous accountabilities. 'Single point responsibility' for results is of the very essence. The Project Manager is ultimately responsible for making the project happen.
7. Active Follow-Up
Plans have practical value only when they are used to help people do their daily work. They are similarly used as a means of identifying problems while there is still time to overcome them. Plans must therefore be used throughout the entire project in order to allocate tasks and monitor achievement.
8. Open Communications
Time must be invested in communication as it is the key to a successful project. By effectively communicating the project and issues everyone involved has the opportunity to take the initiative and contribute fully with ideas and decisions.
9. Good Teamwork
Teamwork in projects is absolutely critical but does not happen automatically. Project work involves people from different parts of the organisation, often with competing priorities and different perspectives, which can make teamwork all the more difficult to achieve. Teams must therefore be actively developed by the Project Manager.
10. Strong Leadership
Successful projects are usually led by an individual who is committed to the project objectives, and who has a completely clear view of where the project is going and how they intend to get there. The leadership qualities of the Project Manager are as important as their technical management skills.