St Albans, United Kingdom (PressExposure) July 12, 2011 -- Project management training and development specialists, Project Agency, has published an eight step process to project management success.
Intended for anyone faced with managing their first business project, the eight steps are:
1. Define your project
Ron Rosenhead, Project Agency's chief executive, said: "We're often asked to work with project teams which need to deliver a business-specific project. One of the first things we do is ask, 'what are your objectives?' This has to be your starting point.
"Find out, from your manager, what is expected and turn this into realistic objectives. Discuss with key players what they want. Write these objectives down and get agreement from those involved to what is written."
2. Clarify project roles and have a clear project management structure
If you are to be the project manager, you need to know what authority you have to deliver the project. You also need to know what role your senior manager and other senior managers will be playing in the project.
"We've found that having clearly prescribed project management roles helps in delivering what is required," said Rosenhead. "It will help if you write down what each role holder should do."
3. Identify and reduce risks
Many projects are derailed because something 'unexpected' happens. An assessment of what is likely to go wrong will help identify the most likely events that could affect the project.
Rosenhead recommends identifying the level of risk using a simple numbering system - and identifying who will manage these risks. He added: "Make sure you review all of your risks on a regular basis because something that's not a risk now may become so in, say, a month's time."
4. Don't forget the people
"You'll need to ensure you take people along with you," said Rosenhead. "Project Agency research shows that those projects where stakeholders are identified and well managed deliver better project results than those which take little or no account of this important group.
"Stakeholders are people with an interest in the project or who will be affected by the project. Identify what their requirements are and what you need from them.
"You should also identify the perceived attitudes these groups and individuals will have to the project. Then, you can then identify actions to take to manage the individuals or the group.
"Like risk analysis, you should continue this process regularly, checking who the stakeholders are and whether anything has changed."
5. Develop a robust project plan
Ensure your project plan is credible - by identifying all the activities you need to carry out, putting cost and time estimates against them. Show the order in which the tasks will be done and produce a Gantt chart or milestone chart.
"Research shows we suffer from optimistic planning bias," said Rosenhead. "In other words, we think we can deliver an activity in a project in less time than it will actually take.
"Use percentages to help you - for example, ask yourself how confident you are of achieving the activity in the time given or against the identified budget. If you are less than 80% confident, recalculate until you get to the 80% figure.
"This process can be used at an individual task level, a stage level or for the whole project," he said.
6. Deliver what you say you will deliver
Develop a simple monitoring and control system early in the life of the project. Rosenhead advised: "Be clear what role your senior manager plays and ensure you don't get bogged down with completing long, wordy, project reports.
"Use simple highlight reports to show progress. Hold brief project meetings - which should be on your project plan - and challenge and support each other to ensure you're going to deliver when you should."
7. Dealing with project changes
Beware of project changes. Ensure you have a system in place for dealing with them.
"Identify the impact of the change before agreeing to it and ensure you understand who can agree to any major changes in, say, budget or objectives," said Rosenhead. "Any system you instigate must take account of your stakeholders and the project team."
8. Stop 'project dribble'
"One common problem with projects is that they fail to finish and, instead, keep 'dribbling on'," said Rosenhead. "So, you need to plan to hold a project closure meeting - putting it onto your Gantt chart to ensure it happens.
"Use a facilitator to ensure that all of the learning that came out of the project is shared among project team members and others in the organisation. Identify elements which need to be finished and agree who will deliver them and close the project," Rosenhead concluded.
These - and other - issues are covered in Project Agency's recently published e-learning materials, as well as in the company's training and development events. One of these - its 'Perfect Project' two-day course, recently enrolled its 14,000th delegate.