So, you want to get your projects delivered more efficiently and effectively? Here is the first step toward achieving that goal. Understand the keys to success in delivering results.
Most professionals are managing projects covertly – and doing so by the seat of their pants! Between 60-80 per cent of a professional’s time is project based and a vast majority haven’t had any formal project management training. The ‘Big P’ projects have plenty of oversight and corrective action when needed. The greater challenge is the everyday ‘small p’ projects.
What is a project?
A project is defined as ‘a temporary endeavour with a start and finish, undertaken to create a unique product, service or result’. (Project Management Institute)
So, a project is temporary, with a defined beginning and end, defined scope and resources. It’s not a routine or ongoing operation. And involves the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to deliver a specific result – meeting time, cost and quality requirements.
To deliver a project means managing schedules, deadlines. Budgets, people, and deliverables.
Keys to Success = Focus + Manage + Action
Although there are several components to achieving project success, it comes down to three key concepts:
1. Focus that the project receives
2. Manage – special attention that a project receives from being well managed
3. Action – specific items and deadlines assigned to those involved.
The focus a project receives is critical component in the success of its delivery. The fact that it needs focus indicates it should be defined as a project, which is vital to getting support and securing resources required.
One of the reasons projects fail results from not defining an activity as a project and not having a focus of delivery. This can mean the difference between something needing to be done and something actually getting done.
When activities are outside the normal spectrum of responsibility, they likely will be overlooked or pushed to the back of the queue. The risk that they will not get done increases and the likelihood for success is minimised.
Many professionals fail at process changes or new initiatives because they don’t recognise them as projects and dedicate the necessary time or resources.
The special attention of managing a project is the driving force that ultimately culminates in the completion of every step to deliver results. Even if not designated as an ‘official’ project manager, it is critical that someone is responsible for a project’s success.
Expecting a project to succeed without some basic management, is like setting off on a trip without knowing how to get there. The lack of direction or instruction will cause you to become lost or take much longer to get there after many false turns.
A project cannot guide itself to success. Repetitive portions of a project can be automated, but someone needs to initiate that automation and then move the project to the next step.
The professional managing a project is vital in defining the project, making assignments, and expediting those assignments. They ensure that the purpose for the project is kept in focus and that the project’s goals are the priority of the efforts made by those contributing to its completion.
Action means identifying the individual tasks required, assigning them and setting deadlines.
Assigning specific action items to those responsible for their completion is an important step in planning a project. A mixed set of skills is often required to achieve project success, and a mixed availability of the ‘team’ adds complication to this process.
The ‘project manager’ (official or covert) must engage in some level of team building to ensure the right mix of skills is available to deliver within deadlines.
A deadline is arguably the most important component of an action item. One way to ensure that something doesn’t get done is to not put a deadline on it.
This is especially true when busy people are involved. Defining a deadline is as important as defining a task, because it gives the motivation to complete the task before becoming the cause of failure.
To ensure the successful delivery of a project the key is a combination of focus plus manage plus action.
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