Project management is quite an arduous task. It requires many responsibilities and skills, from determining priorities to delegating tasks to the right resources and mitigating risks.
Different organizations have different policies for handling projects. Still, learning and implementing basic project management practices below can positively impact your daily project management plan and help you achieve your project goals.
1. Define your project scope
The very first step in any project that comes up during the project initiation stage is defining your project scope. If the project scope is not clearly defined, project creep is likely to result from ongoing changes or expansion of project outcomes. Excessive scope creep kills a lot of projects by going over budget and missing deadlines due to the constantly moving delivery targets.
Start defining your scope by writing a statement in advance, well-defined scope, budget, and timeline. The statement should state the objectives, milestones, resource prerequisites, current issues, possible risks, limitations, and outcomes.
When designing the scope of your project, you should start big and narrow the focus of your project. Then, present the scope of your project with the CEO and other stakeholders and see what emerges.
2. Develop a work breakdown structure
The more complex a project, the more critical a work breakdown structure (WBS) is for workload management. Once established, you can incorporate it into your project management software, as discussed next.
The WBS starts with the final deliverables and works backward by subdividing them into smaller components regarding time, responsibility, and size to create a project roadmap. Here’s how you can execute this plan effectively:
Use the 100% rule
The WBS must cover 100% of the project-defined work and results defined by the project scope statement. It must not include any work outside the scope of the project.
Plan results, not actions
Defining action or how something will be done in the WBS makes it prescriptive, not descriptive. Give your team members the ability to do the work as they see fit if they achieve project milestones on schedule.
Breaking work into smaller, doable sets of tasks will help you develop a sprint-like approach to how your team carries out project work. This means that your team will have a defined set of tasks to work on but in smaller intervals. This will help them become more agenda-driven, not to mention more productive and efficient throughout the process.
3. Utilize project management software
Setting realistic expectations and achievable deadlines is all good, but you can't be sure that your project will run smoothly until you have a reliable tracking system in place. Thus, make sure your team doesn't get off track by setting up a tracking system to keep tabs on everything that happens, every contribution made to the project, every resource used, and more.
Successful project managers use the right software to manage projects, communicate with their teams and stakeholders, and generate progress reports. Here’s how to make the most out of it:
Choose the right one
With project management software such as ScaleOcean, you can make it easier to track time, have your teams collaborate on the same platform, and keep track of all the moving parts of a project – notes, discussions, tasks, and subtasks, not to mention, resources.
Create visual task schedules
Another benefit of the project management software is the ability to create visual schedules and WBS for project planning. Whether it's a drag-and-drop kanban style list or a Gantt chart, visualizing workflows is helpful when you have overlapping tasks.
With project management software, one can communicate better with clients through the transparency demonstrated by being on the same platform as your team. In fact, this point further assists in gathering and working on client feedback and generally correcting as you proceed with your project.
4. Set a reasonable timeline
Determining the timeline of your project is crucial. When will your project be finished? How much time will you allot for each project? You will be asked to answer these questions in this step. When you create your project plan, you can estimate the time for each task along with your project, but project deadlines are fixed, and usually, they don't change.
One way to do this is to look to the past, reviewing completed projects. Another way is to make sure to check your resources – see and count the number of people working for you, the time in which you have to submit projects, and the budget needed.
5. Mitigate risks
Risk management complements project management. When a company ascertains all potential risk factors and works diligently to improve them, success greets them.
You may need to re-prioritize tasks to manage risk or make changes to your process timeline to account for the issue. It should be noted that not all risks are harmful; some can be positive and have a beneficial impact on the project. Asking questions and creating a culture of accountability among your team can help mitigate risk.
Involve all stakeholders as soon as a risk is identified, even if you have a mitigation plan in place. Frequently, project managers and teams think things are under control, but then there are times when it gets out of control, putting the entire project at risk.
6. Stay in communication
For project plans to work efficiently, you need to make communication a constant; not only that, but you also need to make sure that it leads to productive results as well.
Nothing beats the magic of teamwork and camaraderie because communication sorts out problems with ease and expands the standard of professional work. The perfect communication strategy will redefine the prospects for successful project management for your company.
Here’s how to communicate effectively with your team and external stakeholders:
Everyone should know and use the same project management terms to ensure clear communication. With ScaleOcean’s project management software, you can archive project-related emails and meeting minutes for reference and sharing as needed.
Keep meetings to a minimum because your team members have front-line work to do. Try a 15-minute session where everyone only has 1-2 minutes to provide a status report.
Keep each email or online note/comment brief by making the goals and related requests direct and to the point.
7. Seek feedback and ideas
Sit down and plan with your team members about the process to include in the project appraisal. Look for ideas and listen to people who are part of an ongoing task or project.
Understanding each team member is a critical step that can increase the overall value of a particular task. When many minds work, new ideas emerge. That's why we always listen to what other people we’re involved with are trying to say.
In addition, we suggest that you take criticism of people who are experts in the industry but, at the same time, are not related to the project. You will hear an unbiased opinion from them.
8. Evaluate the deliverables
Make sure you evaluate the deliverables at each critical milestone before moving on to the next step. You should find the problem sooner rather than later to avoid taking a few steps back.
The efficient evaluation ensures good operational prerequisites, verifies deliverables by design, and validates proof of concept. There are several methods for evaluating situation-specific deliverables, such as automatic, compatibility, functional, integration, manual, regression, stress, or others. Regardless of the method you use, you can try these three steps:
Create an evaluation plan
Outline the entire evaluation process, including personnel, resources, logistics, risks, and tasks.
Define evaluation specifications
Identify evaluation objectives, methodology, and expected results.
Implement assessment scripts
Follow the instructions for each step of the evaluation method and process to log results.