What You Need To Know About Project Management

Undertaking a new project is stressful. There are a lot of unknowns. It generally involves learning skills and information about a completely foreign topic.

For this very reason, projects can be hard to plan for. It’s challenging to foresee what resources will be needed. How long will it take? How many people should be on the project? Which tasks should be prioritized? How much money will it cost? Many times you just have to guess.

All of the responsibility falls on the shoulder of Project Management, whether it’s creating the scope or divvying up the tasks. But all too often the project doesn’t go as planned.

1. Most Projects Don’t Go As Planned

The 2016 Pulse of the Profession global survey found that less than half of projects were completed on time last year. This poor completion rate has proven to be one of the major plagues of the business world. Companies create a plan for a new undertaking, they have a deadline, and they set a budget. But then for some reason, or multiple reasons, either the deadline is extended or the budget has to be expanded—possibly both.

Does your organization ever run into this problem? Do you find your team realizes there’s a piece of the plan that’s missing, making the initial deadline an impossibility? Do you end up over budget when the new venture is finally completed? It doesn’t have to be this way. There are methods that empower companies to plan better and stay on track. And during this time of introducing something new, of working on a project that is outside of usual business practices, it is essential to maintain customer happiness. IntouchInsight is a great way to do that.

2. Scope Creep

To fully understand scope creep it’s important to first have an understanding of what exactly a scope is. Now this may seem basic, but it’s not. Many people view a scope as simply the project defined. This is true, to some extent, but a scope is more involved. A scope includes the objectives, the necessary tasks, the parameters of the project, as well as what is outside of these parameters.

Seeing how wide a scope can be helps to clarify the misconception about scope creep. Scope creep is not when a project changes. Most plans change and evolve as they are being completed, but these changes still fall within the parameters set. It is only when the parameters are breached, when the direction of the project changes, that there is scope creep. And this is a problem.

The main reason scope creep occurs is because of lack of planning. When team members find out mid-way through their timeline that their intended course of action won’t produce the results they want, they have to change course. This causes the creep. They have to re-work the plan, expand the budget, extend the deadline, reduce the planned return on investment, or even cancel the project altogether.

But all of this could be avoided. It just takes better planning. With the right methodology, a team can limit the possibility of scope creep.

3. The Main Methodologies of Project Management

But how do you find the perfect methodology that will work for you? There are various approaches out there. The following is a brief overview of some of the most popular styles to help you figure out how to choose the right project management style for you:

1. Scrum: This iterative approach prioritizes tasks into “30-day sprints”. The Project Manager, or Scrum Master, assembles small teams to work on tasks, who then report their progress back. The Scrum Master oversees progress, results and prioritization of tasks.

2. Agile: Another iterative approach, which actually birthed the Scrum method. It’s perfect for projects that need a combination of speed and flexibility. Individuals on the team work on tasks independently and communicate less, making it optimal for ventures that don’t need as much control and organizations that have self-motivated team members.

3. Six Sigma: This method is all about improving processes and reducing waste. The idea is to use data to define the project, measure, analyze, and either improve and control or design and verify. It’s all about perfecting systems, methods and practices.

4. Waterfall: This method is probably the least flexible. It follows a specific sequence: analysis, design, testing, implementation, and maintenance. The benefit of this process is that it allows for the most control.

5. Critical Path Method: This style utilizes an activity list, timeline, dependencies and work-breakdown structure. It prioritizes tasks by identifying how long it will take to complete them and is best suited for projects that have interdependent activities.

6. Critical Chain Project Management: This method concentrates less on the activities of the project and more on the use of resources. It is most similar to the Critical Path Method.

So how do you choose? All of these methods have benefits and drawbacks, making it optimal to cherrypick the aspects from each methodology that will work best for you. Collaborate with your team, identify your resources, and start planning. Also consider outsourcing to get the exact labor and specialization you need. WorkMarket is one great resource for such services.

4. The 8 Keys To Project Management Success

The key to successful project completion is a sound project management methodology, one that keeps your project on time and within budgetary constraints. This type of great project management methodology contains eight core principles:

  1. Define policies, roles and standards
  2. Evaluate
  3. Hire, train, and assign resources
  4. Communal creation of cohesive objectives and goals
  5. Control of budget and scope
  6. Monitoring and tracking of the project status
  7. Measurement and analysis of objectives and goals
  8. Continual adjustment and improvement

Any of the previously mentioned project management methodologies, when combined with these core principals, along with disciplined action, will produce beneficial results–an on-time and in-budget project.

5. Getting Started

Now that you understand how to choose the right project management methodology for you and you’ve got the roadmap for success in your hands—or on your screen—what’s next? You don’t want to let all of this go to waste and have another project that doesn’t meet its deadline. That just means more money down the drain, both directly from your budget and from the human resources standpoint.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, you need to invest time, energy and money into planning, as well as ensuring that you have the right leadership on board who knows how to handle every aspect of a project. And a good way to make sure that the leadership is all on the same page is through a platform like Jitterbit.