Anyone who has worked on a large-scale technology project knows how quickly things can derail if a foundational piece of programming doesn’t get completed on time. Meanwhile, the client keeps adding more and more “nice to haves” to a long list of non-essential tasks. The project is way behind schedule, and the client’s expectations are out of control. The best way to fix this disaster is to avoid it in the first place.

4 Easy Steps to Make Your Project a Success

Effective project management is central to the success of your business. No matter what kinds of goals you set – big or small – you won’t be able to reach them if your project management skills are lacking. Even if you’re confident in your abilities, it’s worth considering how you could improve them given how important a role they will play in your company’s future.

1. Don’t Begin Without a Definition

It’s important that you take the time to define what the project is. According to Alison Davis of Davis and Company, some good questions to ask are:

  • Why is this project important?
  • What are the project’s objectives?
  • How will success be defined?
  • What are key milestones?
  • What are the biggest obstacles that stand in the way?

Add any other questions to this list that are relevant to your project and will help others better understand its scope. The same list can be used again as helpful references for future projects.

2. Monitor Your Progress

Even though the above questions will help ensure project management efforts stay on target, it’s still important to monitor progress. It could mean putting people in charge of holding others accountable. Most likely you will need to use project management tools that provide managers real time visibility into task progress and bottlenecks.

Before just monitoring progress, managers need to decide what KPI’s need to be measured to ensure project success. Set clear performance benchmarks that raise red flags when they are not met.

3. Leverage Project Management Technology

Do not underestimate the human element of project management. It’s going to take teamwork, accountability, and probably a certain amount of creativity in order to succeed.

That said, project management software will make things much easier. Simply keeping everyone on the same page via Dropbox or another cloud-sharing platform will help a lot, but having clear visibility into all aspects of the project keeps teams on the same page throughout the process.

For best results, look for a project management system tool that will address all of a team’s needs through one platform. This will make it easier to oversee everyone through a single portal.

4. Defend Against Scope Creep

Although defining a project is important, that doesn’t mean it won’t get redefined after it’s started. This is what is referred to as scope creep. It means the client wants to add to the deliverables you originally agreed on.

Some ideas for avoiding scope creep include:

  • Turning it into an opportunity: At the beginning of a project, you might recognize a potential problem for your client. They might even bring it up themselves. This would be a great opportunity to build that need into the overall project and get paid for addressing it.
  • Anticipate it by adding to your margins: The client might not bring up their new need until the project is well underway. Anticipating these needs is important because you can build them into your margin. Instead of a 20% margin, you can choose 30%, so you’re able to meet your client’s demands without sacrificing profits.
  • Bring in help from third parties: Your client could bring up a demand you can’t actually help with. Maybe you build websites, but now they want an app, too. This is when you can bring in another company to help them with this. Best of all, instead of taking on more work, by bringing business to another company, you expand your network.

Project management problems often involve some kind of “small” change that had an unforeseen ripple effect and completely derailed the entire venture. Be vigilant about scope creep so this doesn’t happen.

Don’t Let Your Project Become a Disaster

Avoid project disasters: Get clear on your project definition. Monitor your progress. Leverage project management technology to keep things on track. And finally, stop that scope creep!

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