That said, the great project isn’t really hitting the grand slam. Or even driving home the winning run. The big win – pulling off that big fix or managing to install a new technology requested by the project client against all odds when you…or maybe nobody…has done it in the way it needs to be done on your current project. That’s the big win – that’s the one big thing. And that’s great – but that thing doesn’t make a great project.
So what does makes a great project? Consistency of delivery, in my opinion (and from my experience). How do you ensure that? Through ongoing best practices such as:
Consistent customer engagement. Keeping the project customer fully engaged and available from start to finish on the project means they are always there when you need them for decisions, input, approvals/signoffs, and maybe even a requirements interpretation. The project manager must consistently communicate with the project customer to help ensure this consistent customer engagement is happening.
Weekly team meetings. Your project team is doing the real work on the project every day. And you need to know what they are doing. You assign the tasks, but that’s not where it ends. Weekly team meetings are critical project touch points to keep everyone informed and engaged and to get up to the minute project status on the tasks you’ve assigned. Don’t skip having these meetings every week.
Weekly status reporting. Distributing a weekly status meeting is your chance as the project manager to inform all key stakeholders of the same information at the same time. And this is usually – and should always be – the driver for a weekly status call with the customer. Don’t just go through the motions on the status report either. Make it meaningful so your time spent on a weekly status call is really just to confirm that the status report is accurate. That keeps everything running efficiently and effectively.
Constant budget oversight. Weekly review of actuals vs. forecast followed by a reforecasting of the budget keeps the project budget from ever getting too far out of hand. It will always allow you significant time to reach out for help or raise a flag so proper corrective action can be taken. The last thing you want is to skip this step for a few weeks and find out that your project is a financial disaster that can’t be fixed.
Senior management involvement in the project. This may not be applicable on all projects…especially very small projects…but getting senior management involved in the project can send a very good message to the project customer that they are important. And I don’t mean a call from the customer to your CEO expressing a concern. That, of course, is very bad. No, just getting them to sit in on a status call and participate will help your project and the customer’s perception of you how you are handling the engagement more than you can imagine. Try it and see.
It’s not one thing that makes a project successful. There is no 11th hour fix that will turn a bad project into a good project. That 11th hour fix may save a project, but it doesn’t mean everyone will be happy or satisfied or that it has fully met the scope laid out at the beginning of the engagement or that it made it on time and on budget. Little things like the things listed above make those things happen. And a common thread through all of these is consistent communication from the project manager. That has to happen – that has to be the foundation for the project.
What about our readers? What do you consider to be those little things that make the project successful or even great? Let’s discuss…