When it comes to project management, sticking to a project’s timeline and budget is never an easy task. While there are countless factors that can alter a project while it’s being completed, project managers need to adjust to these changes to achieve project success. But, that’s easier said than done.
According to Gallup.com, many large projects, particularly in the information technology sectors, have a poor track record. The vast majority of these projects overruns their initial timelines and never gets completed. A recent study analyzed 10,640 projects from 200 companies in 30 countries and across several industries to find that only 2.5% of businesses successfully completed 100% of their projects. Another study found the average cost overrun of all projects was 27%, with one in six projects experiencing a cost overrun of 200% on average and a schedule overrun of 70%.
Considering these alarming statistics, how can your organization successfully complete a project on time and on budget?
- Understand your project’s purpose – Before you undertake a project, you need to know and understand why it is being completed. While this step sounds easy, it’s often overlooked. To best understand your project you need to know how it fits into your organization’s objectives, goals, and overall plan. This understanding will allow you to connect your project to your company’s broader goals and motivate your team to complete the initiative.
Clearly define your project scope – Once you completely understand its purpose and how it relates to your organization’s long-term strategy, you need to ensure your project scope is completely defined. Create a project plan that outlines the project’s goals, as well as defines the major elements of your project and how each element is related. Also, determine how you will track and measure the success of your project. You should be able to measure how well the project is adhering to its schedule, meeting budget, satisfying stakeholders, and obeying regulations as its being completed.
Assign your team members a role – The success of a project depends on all its parts. Each of your team members plays a vital role in your project, so you’ll want to give your team members a job that utilizes their skills, talents, and personality. Once you align your team members with the roles that best suit them, make sure they clearly understand their job and how to successfully complete it.
Adjust to change – You spend a lot of time creating a project plan and defining your project scope before kicking off a project. Yet, many changes will occur as your project progresses that will alter your initial plan. When changes arise, you’ll need to avoid getting stressed and adjust the project to adhere to those changes. Create a change management plan to define the change and how you will address it.
Manage risks – Like changes, risks can arise at any time during a project. The best way to avoid risks is to manage them before they get out of hand. Keep open communication with the project’s stakeholders and team members to ensure you are aware of any risks that may be arising so you can control them before they spiral out of control and disrupt the success of the project.
How will you lead a successful project?
Ben Snyder is the CEO of Systemation, (www.systemation.com), a project management, business analysis, and agile development training and consulting company that has been training professionals since 1959. Systemation is a results-driven training and consulting company that maximizes the project-related performance of individuals and organizations. Known for instilling highly practical, immediately usable processes and techniques, Systemation has proven to be an innovative agent of business transformation for many government entities and Fortune 2000 companies, including Verizon Wireless, Barclays Bank, Mattel, The Travelers Companies, Bridgestone, Amgen, Wellpoint and Whirlpool.