The answer, I’m afraid, at least for me, is still not clear cut…but it is one I’m curious about and would welcome everyone’s thoughts and input.
Here’s my take… There are some fundamental things we SHOULD do on every project. Period. These are…
Gather initial project info. Get what you can from whoever initiated the project or closed the deal or whatever. An account manager, the project sponsor (or both), executive management, your PMO director…whoever might have meaningful information, requirements, estimates, mockups, etc. You need that critical information to start the real planning on the project and putting together a useful project schedule.
Get a team together. Now, if the project is small…like maybe a data transition and you have the knowledge and capability to do it all yourself, this may be a one-person team. Otherwise, you’ll need to gather resources based on the skill sets you need.
Hold a project kickoff. Sometimes this has to happen before you’ve assembled a team and sometimes after and sometimes it may just be you and the project sponsor. However, this meeting is critical to set proper expectations, finalize milestones, understand assumptions and plan for more planning and plan for the when and how the work will happen on the project.
Weekly status meetings and reporting. I don’t care how formal you make your status meeting – it can be a one-on-one call with the project sponsor that last for five minutes if that’s all it takes, but it must happen every week like clockwork. If communication falters, that’s when the project can start to come unglued and project customer satisfaction can begin to decline. Don’t skip the regular meetings and status reporting, even if there isn’t much to report. Of course, on larger projects this status meeting and reporting process will be more formal, but it still needs to happen…every week.
Communicate well and often. Effective and efficient communication is job one for the project manager no matter how big or small or detailed the project is. It’s not just about the status meetings and status reporting either – it’s about all project details, task management issue management, risk management and anything relevant to the project that needs to be efficiently disseminated to the project team members…and customer…in a timely fashion. And that must start with the project manager.
So I’ve convinced myself through this article that yes, all projects are basically the same at the core. You may toss out some steps along the way depending on the size of the project and the budget and the length of the timeline. But the things that are listed in this article are the building blocks to a successful project – some basic best practices. And they need to happen – even if they are brief on small projects or take weeks on large projects – they need to happen on every project to keep the team and customer engaged and the project moving forward.