Shifting the focus from inputs and outputs to outcomes and value makes all the difference.
As Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, the world’s champion of project management and strategy implementation, published in Harvard Business Review “The Project Economy had arrived”. Projects are the driving force behind short-term performance and long-term value creation, and this is a global phenomenon.
Work is getting more and more organized around projects, executed by teams of professionals who are selected according to the skills needed to complete their tasks. This means that companies hire people for projects instead of trying to find candidates who fit broad job descriptions.
All of this is connected to changes in the way we work – first with globalization and new technologies, then with the overhaul brought about by the covid-19 pandemic. Big or small, all projects are temporary and comprised of a team with a set of goals, a budget, and a schedule.
According to PMI, project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people. The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market – these are all examples of projects.
It is important, then, to understand how to improve project management for a successful delivery. Here are some tips 🙂
- Identify: what is the purpose and who are the people
This is the foundation of the project, the basis to a happy end: having a clear picture of why we are doing the project (purpose), how much it will cost (investment), what advantages and impact it is expected to generate, who is accountable (sponsorship), and who will benefit and be affected (stakeholders). You’d be surprised at how many times this initial information is overlooked and compromises the success of the overall project.
- Choose: who is the best professional to manage the project
You need to define the resources: who will manage the project and which skills are needed to deliver it. The project manager is essential to make sure the team is involved, committed and meets the goals set above. The best leader uses a variety of skills and techniques to motivate team members, ensure good interaction between all parts, and timely surpass any problems that may arise.
- Determine: what are the milestones and how they will be evaluated
When talking about the effective creation of the project, it’s important to specify what exactly it will produce, build or deliver, how and when the work will be carried out, and how we will engage stakeholders and manage the risks. Also, don’t forget to set milestones at which progress will be checked and evaluated (how we will know the project is successful).
- Communicate: give regular status and understand how team members operate
To avoid pitfalls and ensure cohesiveness on an end-to-end project, give regular status so that everyone on the team is on the same page, shares common knowledge and realizes how work is evolving. This way no one is caught off guard by surprise changes. Manage closely, be empathic, lead by example and keep track of what’s going on to take action on time and efficiently.
- Test and collect feedback: how will the deliverables fare when put to the proof at each phase
Testing, asking for feedback, adjusting, testing… Deliverables should be verified at each of the milestones/sprints to make sure they are aligned with the expectations initially defined. Flexibility, agility and adaptability are key. Of course, this is only possible if team members are empowered with everything they need to proficiently perform their work.
Simply put, when meeting budget, deadline and quality requirements as well as the purpose that was behind it, the project was successfully delivered 😉 And remember, shifting the focus from inputs and outputs to outcomes and value makes all the difference.
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