So what is a project? A project is basically a plan to achieve a desired goal in a structured and organised fashion. Projects can range from small and frequent deliverables to large scale company-wide deployments. How you manage the interaction between teams is crucial and mismanaging how you deliver new products or services can cost your business time and money. That’s where project management software can help. No matter how big or how small the project is, the basic principles of project management apply:
This is the most important factor in any project – why are you doing it? What are you trying to achieve? What problem will be solved? What benefit will be realised to your customer or your company?
Roles and responsibilities
Projects will inevitably require collaboration between different teams in order to achieve the overall goal. Every team that is engaged should have a clear directive of what is required from them. They need to understand what is ultimately expected and, vitally, the constraints within which they need to operate (budget and timescales).
Targets and milestones
From a project management point of view, it is vital to identify clear targets and to track those targets as milestones. Tracking a project effectively will help to identify and avoid risks that could derail the whole effort. It’s also important that teams working on the project understand and agree to specific target dates and are aware of the accountability. A clear understanding of individual and team responsibilities is vital for any project to succeed.
A project budget needs to account for material costs, resourcing costs and contingency. The material costs are often easier to determine since quotes can be presented as justification. Calculating resourcing costs is more difficult since time required per team is often a guestimate at the outset. The key is to sit down with each team involved to clearly explain what is expected from them – and for them to provide details of how much effort will be involved. Once agreed, teams should be held accountable to deliver within the targets they have agreed to. Delivering a project within budget is vital, especially when the Business Justification for the project is financial to begin with. Once you understand the costs, add an amount (often a percentage uplift) as contingency.
Very similar to setting a realistic budget, it is just as important to set a realistic duration for your project. Again, the best way to achieve this objective is to sit down with each team to fully understand the time they need to deliver their objectives. This is often done at the same stage as determining the budget since the two often go hand-in-hand. Pay special attention to events that may adversely affect your timings. For example, you need to set realistic goals around traditional holiday times, etc. In such cases, it’s very important to communicate deadlines to teams and, once agreed, teams should be held accountable to deliver within the targets they have agreed to. Once you understand the time required, add a set number of days as contingency.
Every project will be affected by unexpected circumstances. Not all of these can be planned for, but project managers should try to identify any obvious potential issues from the outset. For example, if you are over reliant on a particular individual, it may be an unacceptable risk if he/she were to leave or become suddenly ill. Another example relates to timing – if your project is to deliver turkeys in time for Christmas, it’s unacceptable for your timing to slip so that you deliver on the 26th! Examine each deliverable item and try to think of potential issues. Luckily, effective contingency planning will help!
How to choose the right project management tool for your business?
Often the best way to keep your projects on track is to utilise some kind of software solution. There are many different options on the market, but you need to focus on which product will ultimately help you to achieve your overall goals. Any good solution should offer all or most of the following:
- Mobile friendly
In today’s mobile world, it’s important that your staff can modify and update projects and tasks on any device and from any location. Cloud based solutions offer this advantage.
- Easy Access
Your staff should be able to access your system easily and securely. The best way to achieve this is to select a platform that interacts with your staff administration system or contact database. The best solution would be to have your staff administration, contact database and project management under one application.
Your project management solution should allow you to quickly and easily determine how your project is running at a glance. Your solution should offer a Gantt chart or similar along with budget and timescale graphs for quick assessment and reporting.
- Facilitate collaboration
Your project management solution should allow for quick and easy allocation, re-allocation and collaboration between teams. Teams should also be able to add comments to share vital information.
- Document Storage
Your project management solution should allow you to attach documents. This is a vital feature since projects comprise of many different administration elements. You should be able to attach your project presentations, mandates and proposals as well as quotes, invoices and receipts.
It’s imperative that your project management solution allows you to define project milestones that appear on your project tracking charts. Milestones help to keep your project on track.
- Submission and Approval
Often, a sponsor will initiate a project but would like to identify the feasibility and benefits before actually commissioning the project. Your system should allow your project manager to create a project including proposals, budgets and timelines which can be submitted for sponsor approval or rejection.
Ultimately, using a suitable project management solution can help you to manage and deliver any type of project, big or small, in a planned and organised fashion.
Consider cnx.cloud for your project management solution.