Essential Tips for Successful Project Management (Part -1)!!!

In  present world, filled with certified and degree-wielding project managers it is expected that they know the rules of successful project management. It is expected they know prevalent methodologies like Waterfall, Agile, RUP and all the project management tools like Gantt charts, MPPs, Vision, Project requirements, specifications, and almost everything! All those wonderful bits and pieces that seem to be the second nature to the project management world. Realistically a project manager’s life circles around endless status meetings, updating tickets, filling out paperwork, answering nonstop emails, ensuring sign-off, managing timelines and communicating with stakeholders almost every day. If he/she fails to do this, the fragile framework tracking the project timeline would come crashing down.

A Project manager tends to feel like a juggler in a circus. He/She has to manage multiple projects simultaneously with clients spread across the country across different geographies. Co-coordinating with multiple teams, multiple vendors, multiple team members like architects, designers, developers, DBAs, SMEs, testers, Quality Assurance, change management, release management and taking care of stakeholders at the same time could be strenuous.

If you have been there, done that, experienced it or would like to be a part of it someday then here are some tips. This will better equip you  handling projects and juggling multiple responsibilities successfully.

1) Know Your Subject: It is difficult to effectively manage anything without truly understanding how it works  and the complexities involved. It is not necessary to be an expert in technology to understand how code is written, standards of programming, how servers work, how various frameworks work but you need to know basics and principles behind it. Similarly, it is very important to know the concepts of project management.

One can search the Internet for information about project management, get familiar with the various methodologies and tools, read a few books. Even consider getting that very popular project management certification.

2) Understand client’s expectations, requirements and deliverables follow: It is important to understand the expectations of the client before beginning the project. For this, ask clear questions during initial interactions with the client. This will help the client identify and express their specific requirements and help you understand the objectives.

All doubts and queries about the project needs be clarified in the initial stages before starting the project to avoid confusion in the later stages. This will also help you while drafting the project scope document. Understanding the expectations of clients will enable you to clearly define the deliverables of the project and take their approval, which you can communicate to your internal development team. This will ensure the deliverables will meet their expectations.

It is necessary to know the people responsible for signing-off on the various deliverables. Getting to know them in the early stages and involving them in discussions to take their inputs ensures there are no last-minute surprises or new demands (after the submission of deliverables).

3) Communicate with clients on regular basis: According to a study by the Project Management Institute (PMI), “ineffective communication leads to fewer successful projects; significantly fewer projects meet original goals, finish on time, and within budget.” With so much dependent on proper communication, a project manager has to ensure communication is constant with the client.

Learn how your clients like to communicate. Mode of communication, frequency of communication are important attributes to keep in mind to avoid obstacles in the flow of information. Always share project updates with all relevant people on a regular basis through status reports.

4) Define roles clearly, pitch in whenever required: The role of each member in the team should be defined clearly. This will help avoid confusion and overlap of responsibilities. When the team members are clear about their roles, their energy and focus will be directed toward reaching their individual targets. To do this, provide team members the right information at the right time.

Defining clear roles doesn’t always guarantee smooth flow of work. Often you encounter situations where there is a delay in task execution or question mark on quality of deliverables. A project manager cannot draw a hard line between team roles. In difficult times he has to help team members and sometimes take up tasks which is not meant to be done by him. The important part is to contribute as a member of the team, not as somebody who is overseeing an operation.

5) Update changes in the scope document:  The scope document, as you know, defines what the project is supposed to achieve and what it cannot accomplish. The scope document is locked-in (baselined) before the project begins. However, as seen in major projects there are additions or changes to the scope document during the course of the project. For instance, the client may ask for additional deliverables which may alter the budget and deliverables initially agreed upon. This will change the estimates of cost, effort, and duration which will become the approved target.

For this, changes have to be made in the scope document and approved by the management and stakeholders. It is a difficult tradeoff since clients would want to get more with same cost and within same timeline, but it will be foolish on the project manager not to get the changes approved as it will put pressure on the entire project team and resources which might be catastrophic.

Stay Tuned for more Tips!!!

 

Debojyoti Roychowdhury

Debojyoti is employed as a Lead consultant in Project Management with Verinite Technologies. With nearly 7+ years of Project management/Leadership experience and total 13+ years of IT experience he has a long track record of performing different roles in several IT projects in various domains. Outside work he is a keen enthusiast in bag-packing, mountain biking and trekking.