So what makes a project successful? Well, many things. So let’s take a look at a couple of key elements and common themes. Projects are prone to failure if due care and attention to detail is not followed. A strong leader will be capable of the successful execution of a project and achieving the project goals. Strategic project monitoring and regular team meetings will help keep your project on track, highlighting any unforeseen risks to the project that may threaten to derail it.
Leadership styles differ from leader to leader, but there are some important things to consider when managing projects:
- You should be able to successfully communicate with and listen to your team.
- Make sure your team has the right skill set. Employ professionals who are experienced in the field because you won’t have time to train staff on the job.
- You should not micro-manage. You have a team of skilled managers and should motivate and empower them.
- A strong leader is analytical who can evaluate risks, find solutions and achieve results.
Making a Project Successful
A project should be clearly defined in the mission statement. The mission statement will offer clarity to the project team as well as the stakeholders. With budgets, scope and duration of the project all signed off by the stakeholders, the project can almost be executed. Before project execution, three areas should be discussed with the project team; strategic change, project clarity and your goals and outcomes.
1. Strategic Change – Changes to the current contract signed off by the stakeholders can mean the difference between project success and failure. Changes can affect budgets, duration and profit. It is worth putting a clause to cover changes into the contract, as stakeholders have a habit of change by expanding their expectations. Without a clause, any stakeholder change can affect your budget and project performance. After all, why should your company put in twice the energy for a company who is only willing to pay for it once?
Beware clients are good at attempting this, but with a clause stating that budget, duration and scope have to be renegotiated, you will be able to manage their changes. The impact of any change by the stakeholders can be reviewed and you can make the decision as to whether you can incorporate the changes in your project scope and the impact on it.
2. Project Clarity – There should be a clear understanding of how stakeholders will benefit from the time frame of the project. Communication with the stakeholders throughout the project cycle is important to promote project status, adherence to budgets, and ultimately project confidence; which means confidence in your company. All project staff should be ‘on the same page’. There should be no room for ambiguity. Make sure all project staff are crystal clear about the project process, duration and budget.
3. Expectations – These are the stakeholders’ expectations at the end of the project (is this what the stakeholder expected the project to look like at completion?) as well as your expectations from the project team. Often expectations are intangible because stakeholder expectations may have a differing picture of the project upon completion. Or maybe their expectations evolved as the project moved along. Either way, their project expectations won’t be adequately communicated during the negotiating phase.
Project team expectations will differ from yours because they are at a different level. Your expectations may aspire towards excellence whereas excellence is difficult to achieve. Your leadership is important to manage team expectations effectively. You should clearly define what you want them to achieve, otherwise you may get a mediocre performance. Promote participation in the planning stage with the entire project team. If they have helped to produce the project plan then they will fully understand it, feel accountable for it and want to own its success throughout the project.
4. Goals – The goals of a project are more tangible. Defined goals will lead to project success. If your team knows the goals, they will endeavor to meet them. Your own goal for a project may differ slightly from the rest of the project team as you are looking at the complete picture from project initiation to project completion. Your goals and expectations from everyone involved in the project have to succeed. Your own reputation is at stake as well as your company.
Strategic Project Monitoring
- Deployment of staff. Check that team members are the best fit for the role, that they have the knowledge, ability and skill to fill the role’s requirement. If your first choice is not available, don’t ignore an enthusiastic junior who can be brought up to speed.
- Remember some project influencers who have the skills and knowledge from previous projects will be deployed to work on new projects.
- Look for people with good communication skills and soft skills who can unite the team.
- Have regular team meetings where staff are encouraged to speak openly about any concerns.
- Make regular site visits; check that the foreman/manager on the ground hasn’t any unforeseen difficulties in the pipeline. Encourage regular communication from the ground level to your project team.
- Practice due diligence and keep careful records. Due diligence processes where you maintain close co-operation across the financial scope and stakeholders, will enable you to gain knowledge to empower decision-making.
- During the course of the project, roadblocks and challenges will present themselves. Research solutions and adjust outcomes and discuss these risks with your client. By presenting them with a set of researched solutions they will understand that your team is maintaining as much control over the situation as possible. It shows that they are actively pursuing measures that mitigate any additional risks and continue to passionately advance the project towards completion.
If you carefully negotiate with all the stakeholders you will have a clear understanding of what the project involves, the scope and budget. With an empowered team behind you, clearly defined goals and a strong leadership role, you will be able you strategize clearly and make informed decisions. You will also be better placed to remove obstacles, which will invariably come your way as you head towards making your project successful.