In Part 1, we discussed the first two factors that included the importance of setting realistic expectations for the project and building management commitment. Once you have that solid foundation in place, the remaining Key Factors relate to the management of the project team:
3. Manage Resources
Resources are commonly thought of as sources of supply or support. For most business system projects, more specific resources may include system developers, project managers, business analysts, stakeholders and the systems themselves. The efficient and effective use of resources can often make or break a project.
Perform Activity Resource Estimating
In this day and age of doing more with less, resources can be hard to obtain, expensive to acquire or both. Specifically, the allocation of limited human resources across multiple projects can have a major influence on a project schedule, cost and quality of deliverable. Activity resource estimating helps project managers estimate the resources needed for each activity/task so they can be deployed in the most effective manner. Project managers run the risk of cost overruns and schedule slippage if they don’t take this bottom up approach to activity/task resourcing.
4. Identify Roles and Responsibilities
A successful project requires that the project team participate, at some level, in the planning process, buy-in to the project plan and be responsible for completion of project tasks.
A defined formal structure for the project and for the project team provides each individual with a clear understanding of the authority given and responsibility necessary for the successful accomplishment of the project tasks. Project team members must be accountable for the performance of their assigned tasks based on the structure developed.
Project Team Positions
The vast majority of project teams include a mix of individuals which goes beyond just the project team members performing specific tasks. The required mix for any project team includes:
- Project Executive Sponsor
- Project Manager
- Subject Matter Experts
- Functional Specialist(s)
- Technical Specialist(s)
- Software Developer(s)
- End Users/Stakeholders
Clear definition of these roles and accompanying responsibilities is paramount for a successful project.
5. Maintain Good Communications Channels
Many people mistakenly assume that managing communications throughout a project is easy. Communication is critically important, but fraught with pitfalls and easy to get wrong. Every project, no matter what the size, needs some form of formal project communication to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Set project communication expectations up front. In developing a communication plan for the project, the project team should answer and agree to some Key Questions regarding project communication, for instance:
- How often and at what intervals should the team meet on a formal basis to discuss the projects status?
- What are the best approaches and times to communicate to the project team?
- What is the project team’s preferences regarding phone vs. email communication?
- In conjunction with developing the project roles and responsibilities, how will the communication structure align with these roles and responsibilities? Who should be included in certain types of communication? (budget, task completion, issues, etc.)
- What information should be detailed in the written status reports?
Establishing a project communication plan is critical for relaying expectations and feedback among stakeholders throughout the entire project life cycle. Agreeing to communication expectations early in the process will establish a good foundation for overall project success.
A project always requires hard work, but hard work alone does not assure success. Take the time before the project begins to include these 5 Key Factors in your implementation plan. By planning and managing these 5 Key Factors, your team can avoid most of the common project problems, including project rework, conflict and finger pointing, and project cost and schedule over-runs.