Five Proven Techniques to Ensure Project Management Execution
While a lot has been said about project planning, there is not a whole lot of literature on project management execution which is disappointing because without flawless execution, no project would achieve successful completion.
“The execution phase is typically the longest phase of the project in terms of duration,” says Jason Westland in his book The Project Management Life Cycle. This makes sense because it is in the execution phase that “deliverables are physically constructed and presented to the customer for acceptance”. Here we have discussed five techniques that ensure that your project’s execution is a success:
If you are unclear about your project requirements, stop now, because you already have a failure on your hands. It is essential that from the start all relevant stakeholders understand the requirements of the project clearly.
If the client himself is unclear as to what he hopes the project will achieve sit him down with the team and project managers to clearly define and articulate project requirements. This is known as the project charter or project scope.
The project scope is sacrosanct. That does not mean that you are not allowed to be flexible, just that you should accommodate requests for change only after reviewing the value the changes will bring.
You must select the right tools and team for efficient project management execution. A team that is high performing with the right mix of people, each using his or her strengths, is the key to project success.
Along with team selection, you must select the appropriate tools. For example, during the initial phases of data collection, you should know what combination of questionnaires, surveys, and focus group activities would yield the most relevant amount of data.
Similarly, you should be aware of what software would be the most beneficial for project execution. For example, a cloud based solution to manage projects and jobs in an integrated platform could enable you to get more customers, be more organized, and allow you to grow faster while saving money.
Along with a well-defined project scope, you need a well-defined project charter. A project charter is a project’s statement of objectives with its goals, roles and responsibilities, and main stakeholders. It also identifies the level of authority the project manager wields.
With the project scope and project charter in hand, you can work on the project schedule which identifies the important deliverables and milestones, as well as work-breakdown-structure (WBS). The WBS breaks down the project into smaller components and organizes the work into manageable sections.
There has to be a clear assignment of responsibility for each project team member, as well as clear tracking of tasks with appropriate deadlines, for effective project execution.
Each project carries risk and it is important to identify them at the outset and have a risk mitigation plan in place. Risks could cover a wide spectrum of issues, from budgets cuts and suddenly raised costs to inefficient flow of required information and incorrect estimation of resources needed. Other risks could include stakeholders changing requirements or incorrect understanding of stakeholder requirements.
To create a risk mitigation plan, create a simple log in which you identify every possible thing that could go wrong with the project, what you can do to prevent the risk from materializing in the first place, and what needs to be done if it ends up happening anyway. Update the log on a regular basis.
Clear and concise communication for all relevant stakeholders at every step of the way is absolutely crucial for greater project visibility and its survival. To ensure this, you need to put a communication matrix in place that identifies who needs to be privy to what project updates and how they will provide the same.
Throughout the project, there needs to be open communication lines – up and down the team. This flow of two-way communication is important because an effective reporting system helps keeps the top management abreast of ground realities and provides them with information to help make the right decisions. Flow of communication from up to down is vital because updates on high level achievements raise team morale and make them feel part of something bigger than themselves.