The author provides an analysis over critical aspects of project management and gives tips and tricks how to plan and execute projects in our company with success.
Everybody wants to take part in successful projects and nobody likes the ones that are foredoomed to fail. I am sure it is a well-known fact that in the beginning of a crucial project everyone wants to take part and share the success. However, as time goes by the momentum seems to be brake down and in the end almost only the project leader works with the initial passion. This topic has been discussed much, but I personally think it is important to analyse current projects and from time to time refresh knowledge around management strategy in order to bring projects to nice end results.
Question: What is the key to success?
Answer: Keep the balance between quality, time frame and cost!
The following illustration comes to show the importance of the right proportions between these three key areas:
Quality: In the project we develop an individual product, software or process to optimize efficiency, increase the profit or to meet internal and market standards. The most important question comes in the very beginning: what do we want to create or said in another way what we do not want to create! To excel in quality we have to strictly define requirements, business specifications, and technical design.
Time frame: Every project has a defined start, but it is equally important to also set the project end date from the very beginning. The end date is commonly referred as an absolute deadline and every project member has to have a clear understanding of that. Not to define the appropriate deadline automatically means less strategic development and less market success for the company. If we want to bring innovation things become even more complex as we need to surely break first on the market. So, time is the second key of having a successful project.
Cost: The management of cost is essential as resources like time, raw materials and money are nowadays a scarce. And yes, companies would be always restricted and project management is an area deserving critical attention. The total amount of man-days spent internally, the budget for subcontractors and the amount of support should be constantly observed as they are one of the most apparent performance indicators of any project.
A successful project means the creation of an individual product that fits the initially desired schedule and budget. To achieve this, you will need a strong team, in which every member feels responsible to supervise the quality-time-cost balance of the project. An important statement to emphasize is that the three factors are interdependent and a modification of either one of them during the project has an effect on the other two!
What does this all mean on the consulting and software development market? What should we pay attention to as a customer, if we want to be satisfied at the end of our project?
Here are some tips from my experience as a project manager that are easy to follow, but have a big impact over project performance and results:
- Take your time to gather and document in details the requirements.
- If requirements cannot be defined, then do not start the project. Instead of that better do a product-planning and have the requirements defined as a result.
- Plan realistically to optimize the resources and energy of the team members.
- Do not skip planning – without it you will not be able to calculate precisely your budget.
- Plan in a detailed way to be able to give a more accurate estimate of time and cost.
- Be realistic about time management and do not overload the team members.
- Pay attention to the risks and plan how to avoid them.
- Hire an external consultant to reduce the risks related to lack of experience and knowledge. Have in mind that this will work nicely only if you choose the right person and you make an effort to involve him/her at the right time with the needed information.
- Lastly, the most important factor of them all is to never forget that you work in a team, with people, who have to learn how to work efficiently together and to help each other.