Project managers often think their project is on time and within budget but by the time they realise that something is wrong it is too late to implement corrective actions and get the project back on track.
In order to help you have a successful project here are 5 steps to run a project management health check:
1. Do You Have a Project Plan?
Do you have a detailed project task list? A task list forms the foundation of your project schedule and this is critical so all members know what they need to be working on and when. Each task should have a designated owner. Appointing a project manager for a task even if several people end up working on it ensures that it doesn’t slip through the cracks as somebody else’s problem.
Your project plan should also include dates; when a task is due to start, when it is due to finish and any milestones throughout the different phases of your project to provide you with some checkpoints. If you don’t have all this on your schedule update it now, using your online project planning software, so that you don’t run the risk of a poor or non-existent plan causing the project to fail.
2. Do You Collaborate With Team Members?
Projects are done by teams and if you aren’t working well with your team, then you need to start thinking about collaboration techniques so that you can improve the relationships on the team. Use software that allows you to share tasks and documents and have discussions with your team mates.
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Collaboration is a great way to improve productivity, decision-making and trust on the project team and it also means you don’t have to do all the work yourself!
3. Are You Tracking Expenses?
You may be hitting all your project milestones and delivering your project objectives but how much is it costing you? Your project could end up a failure for being over budget. You should be tracking project expenses to ensure this doesn’t happen.
It’s not difficult to track project expenses. Many software tools have the functionality to do this for you. As you should be approving all the invoices and keeping tabs on what is being spent all you need to do is record that information somewhere centrally and compare it against what you forecasted to spend. If your forecasted spend matches your actual spend then you are fine.
4. Do You Accept Every Change?
You shouldn’t accept every change that someone suggests? This is the fastest way to ensure that your project never finishes at all. While most of the changes that will be suggested by your stakeholders are completely valid and will be good solid recommendations for improvements, you simply cannot do them all and still manage to complete your project on time and on budget.
It is not your job to approve or reject changes, which is the role of the project sponsor. However, you should be making a recommendation about whether it is practical to integrate any change. You can do some analysis to work out whether it will take more time or resources to incorporate a particular change and if it doesn’t (or if the benefit outweighs the extra investment) then recommend to your sponsor that the change is approved.
5. Are You Managing Your Stakeholders?
Stakeholders are those people who have an interest in the project or the outcome. For example, your customers and internal colleagues who are working on benefiting from or assisting with your project.
Stakeholders can make or break a project because they have the power to say whether or not it is fit for purpose. It’s no good spending lots of time delivering something that you think is amazing only to find out that it doesn’t fit with your stakeholders needs. That wastes time and money. Therefore, you need to work with stakeholders constantly to make certain that you have met their needs.
Also, you should use project reports to communicate with stakeholders. They will have more confidence in you and the project if they receive regular communications about what is working well and what you are doing about the things that aren’t going so well.
Of course projects can fail for lots of different reasons but if you address these checkpoints you will be well on the way to making sure that your project is a success. Being a good project manager is all about seeing off problems and giving your project the best possible chance of success.
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