10 Steps to Guarantee IT Project Success
There is no one-size-fits-all approach that would guarantee project success. No matter how experienced you are, every new IT project brings new variables and new risks that differ from project to project and from organisation to organisation. However, there are steps you can take towards project success that will help you meet all milestones and deadlines, and keep customer satisfaction high.
Step 1: Follow the 7-by-6 rule
The longer the project and the bigger the team, the more likely it is that the project will fail. If you make the project too long, there is no sense of urgency. And the bigger the team, the harder it is to make people accountable.
So the 7-by-6 rule means:
- Keep the team small (7 core members)
- Keep the project short (no longer than 6 months)
If you have a really big project going on, it doesn’t mean you should violate the 7-by-6 rule – just break it into smaller projects and keep up with the rule.
Step 2: Get a project sponsor early on
The earlier you get a project sponsor, the more chances your project will have the required financial foundation to carry out work, achieve goals and produce deliverables. As simple as it sounds, everything starts with a person at the top who can ensure that the project results will be implemented.
Step 3: Make sure your work products are tangible
Many project managers give nothing but promises. If you want to keep your customer satisfied, deliver tangible products and do it on time and within the budget.
Step 4: Ensure everyone is dedicated to the project
When managing a project, you have to keep people committed to it until the end. Some people commit because the manager tells them to do so. But you get more commitment when a person recognises and appreciates a project’s benefits.
Help people realise the personal benefits they can get from participating in your project – it will increase their commitment to the project and, therefore, the chances that the project will succeed.
Step 5: Plan the work
Planning the work is what will help you keep the project in control. It doesn’t mean you can’t improvise – whenever the situation changes, just modify the plan taking into account new conditions.
- Make sure everyone knows what they should be working on and when it’s due.
- Assign tasks for short periods of time (one-two weeks) so that the team feels a sense of urgency.
- When something changes, change the plan and follow a new one.
Step 6: Have a launch meeting
The launch meeting serves several purposes:
- You make it official that the project has started.
- You ensure there is alignment between the team and other stakeholders regarding the project’s goals, deliverables, deadlines, budget, etc.
- You give the team their first tasks so they know what should they work on.
Step 7: Monitor project status every week
Monitoring the project status is what allows to keep an eye on what’s going on, track any potential risks and fix problems early on without waiting for escalation.
Step 8: Remeber if the task is 90 percent complete, it’s INcomplete
There are two tips that will help handle tasks more effectively:
- There is no such thing as “percent complete”. Tasks are either complete or incomplete.
- When the task is incomplete, ask the question: “What do you plan to do to get back on track?” Everyone should know what’s expected of them to meet the project deadline.
Step 9: Create a formal process for the scope changes
All changes to your project scope should be documented, otherwise, your budget and schedule are at risk. Always follow a formal change request process. A person requesting additional functionality should explain why the change is needed, and a project manager should determine how it will impact the budget and timeline.
Step 10: Avoid perfectionism
Sometimes, the team spends too much time looking for problems that probably don’t even exist or adding features that were not requested but can potentially make the product even better.
On one hand, striving for perfection is good because it means you value quality. But on the other hand, the fear of producing anything less than perfect can be paralysing.
Remember time spent lingering on one project is time not spent on the next one.So try to maintain your perspective and your priorities despite perfectionism.