8 min read
11 project management best practices to make your project a success in 2022
8 min read
Projects are an important building block for the success of a company. The project teams are expected to perform well at a rapid pace. This can only be achieved through effective project management. An important role in project management is the project manager. The project managers plan and organize the whole process.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) states that a project manager needs, apart from technical skills, business and leadership skills to guarantee a project’s success. This article will introduce you to 11 project management practices that will make your project a real success in 2022.
1. Define the project life cycle
One of the most critical aspects of success is defining the project life cycle and milestones when starting any project. Many people overlook this part and decide to determine the life cycle as they go along with the project. While this can sometimes work out just fine, it’s a precarious approach that is not recommendable.
The main reason is due to the numerous ways that a project can change on the fly, and not having a definitive outline of the cycle can make it difficult to adjust to these changes. Instead, you should lay out the conceptualization, development/production, revision, and review phases as a starting point.
Suppose you’re working with a team of individuals. In that case, the main goal of the cycle is to offer some structure so everyone can know where the project currently stands. This will make the general flow of the project move along with more consistency, and knowing the different phases in the cycle ahead of time makes it easier to transition from phase to phase.
This will help give your team an overall sense of where they stand in the grand scheme of the project at any given time. And start by laying out this groundwork. It will also make the following project management practices much easier to implement.
2. What is the scope of the project?
Defining the project’s scope is the initial step in mapping out all the major and minor aspects of a project. Every good scope accurately depicts project requirements that will need to get done to complete the project life cycle. It articulates the expectations for the project and the methodology for meeting those expectations.
If you’re having difficulty envisioning what a project scope looks like, think of it as the project’s blueprint or project timeline. It’s a template that you can always refer to once the project’s development gets underway, and it usually remains the same throughout development. However, sometimes the scope of a project can shift for various reasons.
Meeting deadlines is often among the most common causes of reworking the scope of a project. It’s hard to know precisely how each phase of a project will go since many roadblocks can always arise, but you can circumnavigate these roadblocks if you design a successful project scope.
Suppose you’re working with a team as a project manager. In that case, it’s also best to get their approval on the project scope before you begin actual work on the project. Not everyone has the same work capacity, so it’s essential to alert team members of the amount of work they should expect ahead of time.
3. Assign roles and responsibility
Role assignment is a pivotal part of good project management, especially if you have an extensive team. Dividing up the workload amongst everyone is the most efficient way to speed up the project’s development. It also helps keep people focused on their designated responsibilities.
Not having designated roles for each team member can easily lead to people not knowing what work belongs to them and what work belongs to someone else. That causes production delays, as you waste time if you have multiple people working on a task that only requires one person.
A lack of role assignment also leaves the door open for team members to absolve themselves of responsibility. When you assign a person to a specific job within a project, they take on the responsibility of completing that part of the project on time. And when things don’t go according to the project plan, there’s no room for them to blame someone else.
It’s best to assign roles at a kick-off meeting in the project as you can to get people comfortable in their roles as quickly as possible. Setting roles early on allows team members to request a different role if they are not pleased with or cannot meet the requirements of their current position.
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4. Communication is key
From the first meeting, communication is a top priority you’ll need to focus on maintaining throughout the entirety of the project if you want to be a successful project manager. A great way to foster good communication is to schedule regular check-ins/pulse checks to see where team members are with their assignments.
While in an ideal world, team members would naturally raise any questions or concerns they might have about a project, this often does not happen. So, you have to foster a space where members can feel good about communicating any points they require clarification on. Once you establish this space, you thankfully won’t have to do much to maintain it.
It’ll mostly maintain itself so long as the project is in development, and team members can always rely on it as a source for quality information. To take your communication to the next level as the project manager, you can have hours outside of these meetings for team members to contact you privately to discuss any aspects.
It’s best to incorporate this time for individual conversations because not everyone feels comfortable communicating in a group setting. There’s also not always enough time to cover everyone’s questions in a single check-in meeting if you have a large team working together on one project.
And don’t forget to communicate with stakeholders as well, since their input is often just as vital as your team members.
5. Create a resource plan
To construct a good resource plan, you need to understand every task that you and your team will carry out for a project. This is because you have to know what resources to allocate to each task, and you can’t know that unless you understand the tasks first.
After that, deciding how much time to devote to each task is the next step. Some tasks will undoubtedly require more time than others, and devoting too little or too much time to a specific task can have a ripple effect on all the others. This is arguably the most challenging part of creating a good resource plan.
So, use your best judgment in understanding all the different metrics of the tasks in your project. Don’t be afraid to adjust the time allotment later if it will lead to a resource management strategy that promotes better workflow.
This is also an area where good communication will benefit you significantly. Suppose a team member informs you that a particular task progresses faster than expected. In that case, you’ll have the means to take some of the time you devoted to that task and move it to a different task that is potentially in need of more development time.
Above all else, remember the earlier point about having a flexible project scope. Follow that general idea here, and don’t overcommit time to any task. Due to the fluid nature of a project’s development, you’ll never know when you can adjust the amount of time devoted to a task, so ensure you give yourself enough room to make those adjustments when necessary.
6. Maintain a schedule
Planning a schedule is a must if you want to stay on track and hit the deadlines for the project you’re working on. Most of the time, a schedule is easy to put together once you define the project phases, the scope, and how much time you’re going to devote to each task.
The schedule will further help you and your team track where you are. That way, you can know when you need to make adjustments to your time allocation to stay on schedule. If you’re doing work for a client, it will also help them stay in the loop on how the project is progressing.
Incorporating milestones in the schedule is something you will want to do as well. These will give you specific goals to aim for within the overall project instead of focusing only on working from start to finish. Breaking up the workload is a great way to reduce the fatigue you and your team will feel, especially in a lengthier project.
When coming up with the milestones, ensure you choose precise points for each of them. Think of all the major tasks you’ll have to complete in the project, and pick a couple of those to be the milestones you and your team aim for.
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7. Quality Assurance
Quality assurance is one of the fundamental things a key stakeholder looks for in complex projects, so you must inject some into your project right from the start. The last thing you want to do is present a complete project that doesn’t meet the expectations of a stakeholder from a quality perspective.
That jeopardizes the entire project regardless of how good every other aspect of it is, and worse, it makes you and your team look bad. Quality is vital, and you can only assure a high level of quality through rigorous testing and revising of a project.
You and your team will have to set aside a large chunk of time for any QA testing that needs to occur, so do consider this when you’re creating your resource plan. You can only ensure so much quality during a project’s development process.
There will always be room for further improvement and polish, and neglecting this part of the overall project is a crucial mistake that many project managers make.
Usually, they fail to consider the time it will take for quality assurance before starting work on the project, and when this happens, it isn’t easy to recover and devote the necessary time to quality assurance without seriously delaying the project.
To avoid such a predicament, ensure you take quality assurance into account early in the project’s development. Preferably before the actual development process even begins.
8. Risk management
For risk management, it’s good to assign at least one team member to this task because it requires keeping an eye on all aspects of the project from start to finish. Project risks may not always appear prominent at the beginning of a project, so it’s crucial to have someone oversee the project long-term.
By doing this, you can hopefully stop potential issues before they have the chance to grow into something that derails the entire project. Whoever is in charge of the risk management position will need to identify the points in the project development that are most likely to experience issues.
After that, they should also look at whatever specific milestones you have put in place for you and your team. Because the milestones always involve significant aspects of the project, it’s critical to ensure none of these aspects pose risks. And if they do, then you have to reduce the magnitude of these risks as much as possible.
Not taking these steps will leave the entirety of the project at risk in many areas, which is a considerable risk in itself that you do not want to take. To have a functioning end product, always enact risk management regardless of whether you’re working on a simple or complex project.
9. Take corrective action
Taking corrective action will go a long way in keeping your project on track. When something goes amiss within your project, there is a chance that you and your team will have the means to work through it without making any significant adjustments. However, there will also come times when doing this won’t prove possible for various reasons.
Sometimes you have to course-correct to reach project goals, and you have to do this proactively. For example, when a particular task in your project is going to take too long to complete within the scheduled deadline, you might have to decide if it’s better to dedicate more time and resources to the task to get it done or scrap it in order to focus on other parts of the project.
These are difficult decisions for any project manager, but it’s important not to dwell on them for long because doing so will only delay your project’s completion. Instead, consult your team and the project stakeholders about developing the most actionable decision that will help move the project along while mitigating losses.
Taking corrective action isn’t always within the realm of possibility, so you won’t be able to rely on it all the time. However, whenever you can use it, it’s in your best interest to do so.
10. Change Management
Having a sound change management system in place is one way to help ensure any changes within a project go as smoothly as possible. Naturally, changes will happen in a project from time to time due to many things, and most of them are beyond your control for the most part.
Rather than just flipping the script and hoping for the best, it’s far better to have a plan for how you and your team will handle both major and minor changes. In some instances, you might have to reassign certain team members’ roles to accommodate a specific change. Knowing that roles reassignments can happen ahead of time will prepare your team better.
Change management also comes in handy during the latter half of a project when changes creep up out of nowhere. It can feel necessary to adhere to these changes without properly considering them first, but good change management will prevent you from doing that and preserve the overall quality of your project requirements while cutting down on scope creep.
Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash
11. Be transparent
Lastly, transparency is the key to seamlessly making all the above points work together. Every person involved in the project should understand what’s going on at all times, and everyone should also know the direction the project is going in. You can create transparency most effectively through the communication methods covered in the previous sections.
It’s also important to emphasize that consistency is pivotal in developing and sustaining transparency throughout the project. You should feel comfortable consulting your team members to get their opinion on whether you’re being transparent enough.
Generally, you can get a sense of how you’re doing on your own, but asking those that you’re trying to have transparency with is never a bad idea. Your team can give you some areas where you could do with being more transparent. Then you can focus on those specific areas and improve upon the working culture you already have going for the project.
A lack of transparency can often lead to a lack of proper preparation for project teams on a project. When this happens, it’s challenging to get the project development underway in any actual capacity, so always make it a point to show as much transparency as possible as the project manager.
If appropriately applied, these 11 project management best practices minimize the likelihood that your projects will fail in 2022. Many of them require a project manager with excellent project management skills.
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