How do you keep IT projects firmly on track instead of out of control? The best way is to apply the fundamentals of project management, but with greater emphasis on some key elements.
Here are some essential tips that will help you save time, money and yourself from going grey ten years early.
The best project managers in tech place great emphasis on good communication. This is because they understand how detrimental it can be if they can’t clearly communicate with their developers.
Many tech companies struggle where there is a disconnect between managers and developers, with many developers being poorly suited to management and many managers being clueless about development issues. Making every effort to bridge this gap is worth the effort because it allows for clarity in the team of what needs to be done and where challenges reside. Wherever possible, tech companies should be focused on hiring project managers that understand and can build the respect of the developers.
Project managers should establish a clear line of command and accountability so the entire team knows who is responsible for what tasks. Documentation should be clear and set methods of communicating should be established that favour productivity and ease of use. One of the best ways to do this is by making use of project management apps rather than relying solely on email.
There is no escaping the need for tight cost management on any successful project. The best way to control this from the outset is to address scope creep. Scope creep is THE most common cause of project cost and timelines getting out of control. Spending additional time before the project starts clearly defining and documenting the scope helps set guidelines from the outset.
All team members and stakeholders should have access to the document containing the project scope and understand that any changes to the scope need to be raised with the project manager who will decide whether the changes can be accommodated, moved to a second phase of the project, or rejected as being outside the project goals.
Accurate budgeting from the outset should be undertaken and contingency built in to help avoid large over-runs later. Tools and technology should be utilised where possible for tasks such as measuring staff attendance and efficiency so progress and performance can be properly tracked. View the budget as an ongoing document – it should be regularly reviewed and updated.
Rule number one in project management is that the best way to control costs is to complete the project on time. To be able to achieve this it’s important to avoid over-promising and under-delivering. Plan for delays so they don’t catch you completely off guard.
The project manager, in particular, needs to be highly effective and productive. Streamline project management processes so time isn’t taken up with endless emails, agendaless meetings and wasted phone calls because if the project manager is overrun then they cannot provide time to help guide others through their challenges.
Project management is complex. In every project, things can go wrong so ensure contingency plans are in place for issues such as delayed resources or cost increases. Use past projects and experience to identify risks and tailor the contingency plan accordingly.
Having mandatory weekly meetings where each team member has the opportunity to talk for a few minutes about their task completions, upcoming plans and any roadblocks is a highly effective way of monitoring progress and ensuring everything stays on track.
By using the above communication, cost, and time management techniques it is possible to establish a clear framework that the project can operate within so that it can be completed successfully on time and on budget.
For more of our favourite project management tips, check out our article: The IT Professional’s Guide: Managing Stakeholder Expectations.