Best Project Management Practices- Short and Sweet

We have covered interesting set of topics about project management, best practices and top issues. While there may be many things that can be listed about best practices, I came across an interesting article that basically summarized project management in 10 key best practices.  I found the article to be on the point, easy to grasp without getting to too many details. Below are top 10 practices:

  1. ” Plan the work by utilizing a project definition document”- It is often that people just want to jump into projects without following proper project protocol including documentation. Project documentation is one of the keys of successful projects since it lists key components of the project including timelines, sign offs, plans, etc.
  2. ” Creating a planning horizon”- Planning horizon includes work plan, resources, costs which are necessary part of the project.
  3. ” Define project management procedures up front”- It is critical to define the procedures with all of the stakeholders and work stream owners. When things are shared up front and people are held liable, it creates structure for all involved parties.
  4. ” Manage the workplan and monitor the schedule and budget”-  It is important to keep the work plan updated with latest information including the budget.
  5. ” Look for warning signs”- It is important to be on top of the deliverables. Any sign of deadlines not being met or costs being above the norm needs to be immediately addressed.
  6. ” Ensure that the sponsor approves scope-change requests”- Scope changes are part of projects, but all changes need to be approved by those seeking to make them. It is necessary to keep the documentation as any scope changes made affect timelines, resources, costs and everyone needs to be aware of it.
  7. ” Guard against the scope creep”- Scope creep is one of the common issues in the projects. It is important to be very protective of any scope creep as that could be one of the causes of projects not being done in time or budget. Scope creep can be made of many small changes that amount to big impact on the project.
  8. ” Identify risks up front”- Critical to identify all risks upfront as possible. When you are aware of the risks, you are more equipped to plan dealing with those risks.
  9. ” Continue to assess potential risks throughout the project”- It is important to not just identify risks up front, but keep on top of any risks that may take place during the project.
  10. ” Resolve issues as quickly as possible”- Tracking and resolving issues on time is a critical part of Project Manager’s job. Issues will arise, but they need to be immediately addressed.

While reading the best practices, I found myself basically either faced with same issues and being able to deal with them or learning now how to best address them going forward. Do you have list of your best practices? How did you come up with your list? Was it shared with you or did you create the list due to your own experience?


Common Issues in Project Management and I can relate to them

We all have been part of projects that are well run, but also we participated in some where everything possible happened that can go wrong. I read an interesting article that listed several key issues that occur in project management specifically related to “designers and developers”. While it is related to designer field, it brought up some key things that I was able to relate to. According to the article, there are 7 common issues and they are:

  • “Your client gives you vague, ever-changing requirements”- Many times clients are not sure of what they would like until certain stages of the project therefore impacting the timelines and eventual outcome. It is important to try and finalize the requirements in order to be able to deliver successful project.
  • “Your client is slow with communication”- Some clients are not very responsive which impacts the direction of the project. In order to overcome this obstacle, it is important to make calls when response is limited.
  • “The project doesn’t start on time”- Sticking to the timeline is important and critical step is start of the project. However, based on the needs of the business, priorities can change and projects can be delayed. In order to overcome this, it is important to do as many things up front in the expectation of the project starting.
  • “You try to manage every project the same way”- Every project is not the same and can’t be put in the same template. It is important to be able to craft the templates based on the projects
  • “The client doesn’t like what you created”- Deliverable is not what the client wants. Important way to deal with something like this is to have communication throughout the project as a critical piece to get desired deliverable.
  • “Your point of contact doesn’t seem to care about your project”- Priority of the project may not fall on the critical list therefore causing contacts to have limited interest. In order to deal with such issue, it is important to spot this occurrence from the beginning in order to address it with proper team.
  • “Too much time is spent solving problems after projects are “live””- If there are major issues as project goes live, there are 2 things that probably took place… not enough time to test or too many tweaks were taking place by the client throughout the project. It is critical to add enough testing time and capture the requirements from the beginning.

In my experience, I had the opportunity to deal with all of the above issues, but there are couple that should be called out specifically. First issue is the need to have set requirements.  Although I am on the business side and can be considered a client, it is important to make sure requirements are set from the beginning. Changing requirements throughout the project not only affects the results, but can bring down team morale and even confuse the team. Second issue is that of communication. It is critical to make communication key part of the project. If the people involved on the project are kept in the loop, it can help with making necessary changes on time and ensuring key milestones are met. If client is kept in the loop throughout the project, it can help minimize the chance that they don’t like the result. Ensuring that requirements are set from the beginning and everyone is kept in the loop will help reach satisfying project results.