15 Best Project Management Practices to Drive Your Business Growth
The main thing in ensuring a project success is to define how to complete it on time and on budget. Project management seems so straight-forward – define a deadline, define a budget, choose the right people, and voila – the project will get done.
1. Always conduct a formal project start
You should always conduct some kind of a formal project initiating session (it could be a 20-minutes phone call or a two-day site visit at the client’s site). It will provide your team members a starting point and a chance to start the project on the same page with appropriate expectations for the management of the project and their role in it. If your project is large scale, you should start it with a detailed session with a presentation deck, the statement of work already written for reference, and, at least, the draft project schedule ready to review and analyze.
2. Involve the team in early project stage
If you want to get your team active with their tasks, accountable to you for their tasks, and accepting of full responsibility for those tasks – you should involve them as early as possible – in the planning phase of the project.
3. Detailed requirements definition
You should consider the client list of requirements to be of high-level importance – something like a starting point. It will be your and your team’s responsibility to dig deeper and gather the real requirements for the development.
4. Risk planning and management
It is always painful when you think about the risks, but spending at least some time planning for the risk can bring benefits to you. You should also manage the list of risks weekly by regular control and adding new items to the list.
5. Project schedule oversight and revision
The project schedule is not static – it is dynamic and will be throughout the project. You should revise it weekly and use it to lead the project status call with the client (together with the project status report).
6. Weekly budget prediction and analysis
You should review the project budget weekly, in order to never lose control of it. A 15 % budget overrun can be fixed – a 60 % budget overrun likely can not – it will be difficult to bring it back.
7. Weekly formal status meetings (within the team and with the customer)
You should conduct weekly formal calls with the main client – even when there is a little (nothing) to discuss. You can make them 30 minutes (or less) and stay on topic.
8. Resource prediction
You should review your resource plan weekly to make sure you have the right skill set in place for the next activities due to start. Schedules and tasks always change – which means your resource needs can also change.
9. Scope management
Scope management is always a tough one – the client will never like to hear about changes of the scope. But it must be done to ensure the project stays on the right schedule and on budget.
10. Document and track change orders separately
No matter if you use a spreadsheet, or a status report in a separate section, or both, you should always track change orders carefully so nothing falls through the iterations.
11. Project status reporting
You should create a project status report and update it constantly for you and the customer – and don’t forget to report your needs to your senior management. You can select the right format for the report and you may only need to produce one report that will satisfy all. Use tools like dashboards, graphs and indicate the status health by colors (red, green).
12. Executive management reporting
Management reports could be the same as the status reporting – they are important and you need to find out what the managers need to know about the project. You will make life easier if you can create these reports in the shape of status report that everyone gets.
13. Engage the customers / stakeholders
You should involve the client in all stages of the project, and also – involve the project team and other stakeholders. You can engage the stakeholders by calling them to the project status meetings when required, and involve them in status reporting and project schedule distribution, for some decision making etc.
14. Communication planning
Communication during the project is one of the most important tasks that the project manager does. You should define early the path for all communication – it should go through the PM; you should distribute the key contact information to all project participants. If the project is more complex, you may need a formal communication plan. There are many project engagements where communication is also recorded (filed).
15. Post implementation support and formal hand-off
You should plan accordingly the customer hand-off and the formal hand-off of the implemented solution to the principal customer. Always keep everyone and everything covered, and it will increase the customer satisfaction, and will take care of the end users.