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5 Tips for Successful Project Management

StrategyDriven Project Management Article | 5 Tips for Successful Project ManagementProject management in business can be challenging and so hiring someone who knows what they’re doing and having the right tools in place can make a big difference between your project being a success or a flop. Managing a budget, resources, and the team takes some serious organizational skills so if you want your business project to be a success, here are 5 tips to help you along the way.

Making a Solid Plan

Before you can manage a project, there needs to be a set plan in place that identifies the role of every team member and the goals for the project. It should be both clear and short. Having a solid plan for your project provides you with something to measure your success from or to change tactics if what you’re currently doing isn’t working against your plan. Planning ensures clarity for all team members and can help bring you back to the main goals of a project during the busiest times.

Hire a Project Manager

If you don’t already have a project manager in your team, now is the time to get one. A project manager is trained to know how to run projects in the most efficient way. A project manager knows how to choose a team, explore their strengths and weaknesses and use these to deliver a task to each team member. They can work alongside the team to reach the goals of the project and your business. There are countless benefits of hiring a project manager for your business.

Communicate

Within any project, communication is key to avoiding mistakes and to achieve clarity throughout the team, as well as with any clients. Effective communication must take place often between your business and clients, so they are always up-to-date. The project manager should keep in contact with all team members, regularly checking in to ensure they understand their role and are working well towards their deadline. One of the biggest failures within a project is poor communication.

Use a Project Management Software

Project management software is used by companies worldwide and is there to make your project that much easier. Rather than saving file after file and using several communication platforms to speak to team members, project management software allows for everything in one place. The Digital Project Manager has compiled an expert review on the top 10 project management software that is available for your business. Within this, you can check features, price, and usability of each software.

Evaluate

This is one that many businesses forget yet evaluating can make a big difference in how you run your project next time. We cannot improve if we do not evaluate. Use your project as a learning tool. Review what went well and what didn’t and how these mistakes could have been avoided or fixed quickly. Ask team members for their opinions too, as this allows for a total evaluation.

Successful project management is all about clarity and communicating well together. Hiring a project manager will ensure that all your projects are a success.

7 Tips for Organizing Your Business Projects

StrategyDriven Portfolio Management Article  7 Tips for Organizing Your Business ProjectsIf your life is a jumbled mess at work, you’re not alone. Many people feel like they’re running a circus when they walk into their office.

Too many business projects can negatively affect your performance unless you learn how to manage them properly. Organizing your business projects doesn’t have to be a bore.

Continue reading this article to learn how to organize your business and get things done on time.

What You Need to Learn About Organizing Your Business

You might be learning more about getting help in your business. Even if you get help, if you don’t know how to organize your projects properly, you won’t experience progress.

1. Let Your Team Know Your Expectations Early

You can’t take on everything by yourself. Since you can’t take on everything by yourself, your team needs to be on the same page as you.

Letting your team know your expectations early will help keep you on track as well as help keep them on track. If you don’t have anyone looking up to you and counting on you to get things done, it is easy to let things slide.

When your team is watching and everyone knows the expectations you have for them, they will be held accountable and so will you.

2. Create & Follow a Template

Why recreate the wheel? If you’ve done something that worked in the past—keep doing it. Creating a template for your projects can help you save hours on end when you’re working on simple projects.

3. Compare Project Progress to Project Plan

If you don’t have a detailed project plan, it is far too easy for you and your team to fall behind on your projects. One of the best things you can do is to set times you’ll review the project’s progress and compare it to the project plan.

When you compare the progress and the plan, you’ll be able to see where things are going awry so you can fix them as quickly as possible.

4. Set Hard Deadlines for Milestones

Your project plan needs to include hard deadlines. If your team thinks there is leeway in the deadlines, you’ll rarely see them hit their deadlines.

While you don’t have to be hard on your team, you should let them know that you know what they are capable of and that you believe they can hit these milestones. Setting hard deadlines for milestone will keep you out of panic mode at the end of your project and ensure you stay organized and on track.

5. Communicate Frequently

Failure to communicate with your team frequently will result in project failure. If people have a question about a challenge they’re up against, they often don’t want to bother you so they’ll wait until the team meeting.

If you don’t have frequent team meetings, they will be stuck on the problem for quite some time which will delay the project unnecessarily.

6. Create & Stick to a Filing System

When you’re managing multiple projects you may have stacks of papers on your desk. While it does look like you’re busy, it doesn’t mean that you’re productive.

If your papers get mixed up or if you lose paperwork, this can be a major problem. A well-designed filing system can keep you from losing paperwork or making it difficult to find.

You can organize your filing system alphabetically but also consider color coding and splitting up different projects into their own filing cabinets to make things even easier when you’re trying to access files for a given project.

7. Use Project Management Software

The web can get pretty sticky and that is where much of your information is. If you don’t use project management software, you’re making your life unnecessarily difficult.

When you use project management software, you’ll be able to share digital files with your team in a click of a button. You’ll also be able to communicate about files and folders so everyone is on the same track.

While you do need your offline hard copies of files and folders, having information available in the cloud will reduce the amount of tag you need to play with your team. Almost all project management software is searchable as well so if you want to find a file, just type in the name and the results will be there for you.

Bonus Tips

When you want to keep your business projects in line, it helps if you have the rest of your business in hand as well. If your books are going wild and you aren’t on track with your taxes, you’re putting more stress on yourself than necessary.

Meeting with an accountant to make sure your books are in order, purging your office of anything you don’t need and even cleaning up your inbox can make it easier for you to run your business and all of its projects.

The small things you aren’t taking care of can add up to major problems that slow your business down and keep you from getting necessary work done. If you can’t get things in order on your own, delegate it to team members that work well in those areas.

Learn More Tips to Up-Level Your Business

Now that you know about organizing your business, why not get even more information to help your business? We have many articles on various business topics that can help you grow your business.

Navigate through our site, find your favorite section, drop a bookmark and come back later for more great reads.

 

Project Management Warning Flag 1 – Unfunded Activities

Project Management Warning Flag 1 - Unfunded Activities | unfunded activities | StrategyDriven Project Management ArticleManaging a project to an on-time, on-budget completion has become increasingly difficult in the ‘do more with less’ reality of today’s business world. But what many project managers fail to realize is that their project is doomed from the start. Activities associated with a project’s roll-out and needed organizational change management often go unscoped and unfunded because they don’t directly contribute to the creation of the produce or service being developed. The cost of these activities is very real in terms of personnel and financial resources and the project’s ultimate success relies on their performance.


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Communicating Your Project Plan With Stakeholders

StrategyDriven Project Management Article |Project Management| Communicating Your Project Plan With StakeholdersAs a project manager, one of the most important things you need to do is communicate effectively. This is something you will learn about extensively during your project management courses. You are going to be working with different people all of the time, and you need to know how to communicate to each one successfully. Of course, one of the most important people you are going to be dealing with are your stakeholders. Read on to discover some of the different ways you can communicate your project plan to them.

A project report – Let’s start with the most common communication method that is used for business project plans, and this is a report. There are lots of benefits associated with going down this road, as you can blend a good mixture of narrative and hard statistics. You can also easily flag issues, as well as create a history for the project and share detail. However, one thing you do need to keep in mind is that this is a one-way communication channel, so they are not ideal if you need stakeholders to contribute.

Conference – You could even hold a conference. Make sure you detail it online like the Michael A. Peck MAPA Group have. This is advisable for cases whereby there are lots of stakeholders and important matters to be discussed.

Gantt charts – Gantt charts are ideal for showing the status of the project in real time. They can also be added to your website if you are building one for your project. One of the main pros associated with this option is the transparency. However, you will have to explain these charts to most stakeholders, as not everyone will understand what they are looking at.

Conference calls – This is a good way to quickly give updates and share information with busy stakeholders. It works well for briefings, but it is not always ideal for productive discussions. For this to work, you need to make sure there are some ground rules in place, otherwise people will be talking over the top of each other and there will be typing going on in the background.

Face-to-face – Face-to-face communication is not required all of the time, but it is necessary to schedule this in from time-to-time. This is especially the case at the beginning of the project, and again when you reach critical stages whereby feedback is required. It is also effective for dealing with senior leaders and difficult stakeholders. Such meetings can be daunting, though, which is why plenty of preparation is a must.

Presentations and slides – Last but not least, slides with the correct data can make a powerful impact, especially if you are communicating to a big group of stakeholders. Presentations ensure everyone has the same message. However, this is only the case if you put together a good presentation, otherwise they can be dull and boring.

As you can see, there are many different ways that the project plan can be communicated, and you do need to consider the approach you go for with care. After all, all options have their pros and their cons, so you need to determine what is right for the project in question, as well as the people you are dealing with.

How to Facilitate Retrospectives in Scrum-based Continuous Learning

StrategyDriven Project Management Article | Scrum-based Continuous LearningFor the connoisseur of Agile project management, Scrum is undoubtedly shown up on your “To Do” list. First formulated as an Agile strategy to assist software development teams in pursuit of sustainable project initiatives, the method has since found roots in a number of cross-industry projects.

Now, for those relatively new to Agile, Scrum can be thought of as an empirically-oriented strategy of project management, delivering the highest-valued outcomes with a focus on fluid adaptation. It’s footprint is small; Scrum teams strive to reduce waste by organizing work in short bursts, typically two weeks in length. The method loves focus, commitment and introspection to influence adaptation.

To best pursue Scrum, a team has to use retrospectives. Retrospectives are a vital instrument that triggers actions and serves as the ideal launchpad to changing team behavior. Any team identifying Scrum as a strategy would be wise to consider how powerful retrospectives can change the face of their product outcomes with a self-aware and dynamic approach to project management.

So… what exactly is a retrospective?

For your Scrum team, a retrospective is conducted at the conclusion of an iteration. An iterations is a short project schedule, typically ranging between one and four weeks in length, with two weeks being ideal. Keeping iterations as short as possible is key to Scrum’s success; it’s all about avoiding dragging out poor performance strategies, which means minimizing the time they’re in use.

At the conclusion of these iteration cycles, teams are tasked with reflecting on observations during this time period. Specifically, teams are faced with a combination of hard data and anecdotes and asked to consider how well everyone worked together and what problems influenced their team and individual performance.

How do you hold an Agile retrospective?

The environment for the retrospective needs to feel like a safe, open discussion forum; it simply won’t work if team members don’t feel that there’s space to share what amounts to criticism. When looking to introduce the retrospective into your Agile/Scrum team, consider the five step method for conducting a retrospective:

1. Preparing Your Audience
2. Examining Team Data
3. Generate Powerful Insights
4. Create Workable Strategies
5. Work The Closer

Let’s delve further into each of these retrospective steps.

Preparing Your Audience

The retrospective meeting doesn’t have to take off at high speeds. Let your team warm up before diving into the substance of the meeting.

Throw out a question for the team and ask for a think/pair/share scheme; it’s a classic discussion method used by school teachers. Let your coworkers come up with their own answer to the question, which might be something like, “What’s one moment from this past iteration that sticks out as a true ‘lightbulb’ moment?”

They’ll then share with a partner, discuss together and bring to the bigger group. It’s a great way to gauge the room, gather further thoughts and navigate the direction of the retrospective.

Examining Team Data

There are a myriad of ways to structure a retrospective on data and produce hyper-efficient results, and there really isn’t any single perfect approach. With that said, let’s think about some general ways that can serve as launch points for obtaining data.

A common method to think about is the sailboat method. Think of it like this: the wind that pushes the boat ahead represents items in the data that assist the team in performing well. Anchors are pulling the team down, keeping them from forging onward in their pursuit. Organizing data into these columns, wind and anchors, will help the team think visually about what metrics can be pinpointed as an absolute success and what needs improvement.

Retrospectives also don’t have to be too quantitative in terms of the data points, or even discussing about areas of improvement. Consider a method called “Success Criteria”. This strategy centers around clearing up what the intentions are as a unit and targeting outcomes and results for success. You plan for the success of a goal, but you also try to prep by thinking ahead about what total and complete failure could look like. You list out your intentions in precise terms and what the target is for a project, and by considering the worst-case scenario, you’re able to minimize being caught off guard.

Generate Powerful Insights

After you’ve assembled your data, it’s time for the main event: the discussion. Get ready to bundle up problems, ideas and opportunities in a way where actionable measures can be taken.

An Affinity Map is a key Scrum retrospective technique for insights. Take one post-it with an idea and put it in a group; grab a second and decide if it belongs in the same group. Once the groups are formed, attach names to the groups and decide which post-its are most important, taking note of how big the clusters are and the overall themes of the notes.

Create Workable Strategies

In this final step, you’ll think get to move forward with actionables. Use the method of “Start, Stop and Continue” originally brought forward by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen.

Draw three sections (Start, Stop, and Continue), and place clusters from the Affinity Map in these headers. Give each person a dot to vote on most crucial items, and pick the ones with the most votes to make an actionable decision on. Reflect on feasibility and consider the short and long-term.

Work The Closer

It’s the end of the line! Closings can be underestimated and skipped over, but don’t fall for that. There are a ton of ways to close the meeting out that are forward-looking and positive, from sharing final reflections to ending on a powerful quote gathered during the retrospective itself.

Use the closer as an opportunity to garner self-reflective feedback. It’s a bit meta, but that’s the power of Agile and Scrum. It cuts through to serve as a focal point by which we can address all matters of progress within a forward-thinking environment.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Project Management Article | Scrum-based Continuous LearningAs chief evangelist, Lean-Agile strategy at Planview and former co-founder of LeanKit, Jon Terry helps enterprises around the globe discover how to increase effectiveness, optimize processes, and deliver value faster with Lean-Agile principles. Jon actively seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of Kanban and visual project management and is a highly sought-after presenter within the Lean-Agile community. In addition, Jon has been a leader in Agile transformations for some of the largest organizations in North America, including hospital-giant HCA Healthcare and its subsidiary, HealthTrust Purchasing Group. Jon earned his Global Executive MBA from Georgetown University and ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

Connect with Jon Terry – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonterry