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Monday, 6 February 2023

7 steps to successful project management

Project management is an important skill to have in your business tool belt. Why? Because it will help things run more smoothly and more stress free. Business Short Course instructor Glashie Qudsia shares her top seven steps to successful project management.

Step 1: Self evaluation

During your entrepreneurial journey, you should take the time to think about where you are and where you are going from time to time. Why do you want to start a business? For extra money? For more freedom? For your passion? Is this your dream? Find out for yourself. For your single answer, prepare another question, for example:

■ What skills do you have?

■ Are you the responsible person?

■ Where does your passion come from?

■ Do you have the energy to work on weekends?

■ How much can you spend?

■ Are your instructions clear?

■ What lifestyle do you want to live?

Step 2: Set realistic goals

Goals planning and achievement gives you a sense of happiness and well-being if your goals are realistic. This is where the ‘Phase 1: Project initiation’ starts. Start with a solid foundation.

■ Identify your customers

■ Create a solid project plan

■ Be proactive

■ Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are my most straightforward long-term goals?
  2. What actions should I take to achieve my long-term goals?
  3. How to take action?

At this stage, you must define the project's needs and create a project charter and a scope document. The project charter and the scope is an important document that contains detailed information such as project constraints, goals, project manager appointments, budget, expected schedule, and more. While the project objective is established during this phase, the project charter does not contain any technical details during the planning phase.

Click here to download Project Charter Template.

Step 3: Set scope, budget and time

Project scope refers to the triple constraint, iron or magic triangle of project management. It is an integral part of the project because it ensures that the project you start with will be followed. This is where you determine Project Scope.

The Iron or Magic Triangle of Project Management

The iron or magic triangle of project management

1.Time constraint:

This indicates the time available to complete the project.

Time is of the essence to get your product/project out into the world. You need a system that can assign time estimates to each project. Quickly compare your time on tasks or projects with free Gantt chart software that includes project management tools.

2. Cost constraint:

This indicates the budget allocated to the project.

Cost Budget Create a cost baseline. Most companies fail due to a lack of funds. Therefore, you need to set aside money so that the money does not run out. Project management tools can accurately estimate your budget by calculating cost variances.

3. Scope constraint:

This indicates what must be done to deliver the project successfully.

The scope is essential in managing any project. A decision must be made on the scope of the product/project. It addresses specific requirements that cannot be ignored to complete the project on time and within budget.

This model is sometimes subject to a fourth constraint: quality. Project quality results from the project manager's ability to balance constraints, allowing the team to deliver expected results within established constraints.

Click here to download the Project Scope Template.

Step 4: Milestone planning

Milestones indicate developmental changes. This can help you communicate the progress of your project. A significant part of the project plan is the guidelines for the entire project. This is where 'Phase 2: Project planning’ commences.

The project planning phase requires special attention as it establishes the project roadmap. Unless you use a modern project management method, such as agile project management, the second phase of project management should account for approximately half of the total project duration.

During this phase, the main tasks are identifying technical requirements, developing a detailed project plan, developing a communication plan, and defining objectives/outputs.

The detailed project schedule for each output is another essential part of the planning phase. With this timeline, the project manager can develop a communication plan and schedule for communication with relevant stakeholders.

Risk reduction is another important aspect of project management as part of the planning phase. Project managers are responsible for extrapolating past data to identify potential project management risks and develop mitigation strategies. An important factor often overlooked by professionals is an effective change management program. As a project manager, you must be prepared to incorporate some changes into the project to avoid bottlenecks and delays.

In the absence of a change management action plan, scope variation occurs, causing significant problems for the project team later. Therefore, it is better to minimise the probability of unexpected changes. Select the proper milestones for your team. Discuss with your team how important each step is to stay focused on your goals.

■ Break down the project into a list of deliverables

■ Identify project risks

■ Establish progress reports

■ Highlight important dates

■ Maintain control over project deliverables

■ Clarify goals and requirements

■ Consider stakeholder support

■ Prepare for the long term

Click here to download Project Plan Template

Step 5: Build a project team (hire or outsource)

When researching why start-ups fail, the wrong team is one of the main reasons. There are no independent entrepreneurs. You cannot do it alone. A CBInsights study showed that 23% of start-ups fail because they do not have a strong team with the necessary skills. Here is how to hire a great team to start your business:

■ Find relevant experience

■ Define your team culture

■ Ensure everyone is on the same page

■ Introduce them to customer service

■ Get them to buy your vision

This is where ‘Phase 3: Project execution’ commences

The execution or implementation phase of the project is the phase where your team does the actual work. It is your job as a project manager to create an efficient workflow and closely monitor your team's progress. Another responsibility of the project manager in this phase is to maintain effective collaboration between project stakeholders on an ongoing basis. It assures that the project runs smoothly and everyone is on the same point.

You can get help from the best project collaboration tools on the market to increase the productivity and efficiency of your team.

Click here to download WBS Template and Gantt Chart Template.

Step 6: Regularly communicate with your team

More effective communication is equal to better project management in project management, as we all know. Daily team communication can monitor requirements. You can keep your team informed of each step of the project. Communicating is not just talking and listening but knowing all the project details. It is about serving everyone, understanding the project's challenges, interacting with everyone and articulating the vision. This is where 'Phase 4: Project monitoring and controlling’ applies. The monitoring and control phase of the project occurs concurrently with the project implementation, thus ensuring that the project objectives and outcomes are met.

As a project manager, you can ensure that no one deviates from the original plan by establishing critical success factors (CSFs) and key performance indicators (KPIs).

During the project management tracking phase, the manager is also responsible for quantitatively tracking costs to ensure the project stays within budget and is vital for future projects. Gantt Chart template is a great tool to monitor your project.

Step 7: Keep the lessons for the future

This is the project management process's final stage, 'Phase 5: Project closure’. The project closing phase indicates the end of the project after the final handover. There are times when outside talent is hired explicitly for the contracted project. Terminating these contracts and completing the necessary administrative formalities are also the project manager's responsibilities.

Most groups hold a retreat after the project to reflect on their successes and failures throughout the project. This is an effective method to ensure continuous improvement within the company to enhance the team's overall productivity.

The final task is to review the entire project and write a detailed report covering all aspects. All necessary data is stored in a secure place accessible to the project managers of this organisation.

Interested in business skills?

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Glashie Qudsia

A people person from the start, Glashie Qudsia turned her natural passion into a commitment to helping others reach their potential. For the past 16 years, Glashie has been working as an educator and mentor in the vocational training field — helping university graduates with Australian workplace and employability skills.

Read more by Glashie Qudsia

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