Project Management Practical Guide — Part 2
In the first part of this guide, we learned how to begin managing the project and how right tools and techniques help you better plan your project.
For the second part, we’ll be learning about what to consider while monitoring project progress for successful completion. We’ll also discuss a few tips on how to get closer to finishing a project on schedule without changing your budget.
Monitor and measure project progress
1. Schedule regular meetings to check on project progress
Be it weekly or bi-weekly, as a manager you should setup a progress tracking meeting with your team to evaluate the overall progress and understand any blockers. It is also equally important to set up one-on-one at regular intervals with each team member to understand his/her progress or issues, update them on the areas of improvement and acknowledge them for any good work they did.
2. Mitigate risk(s)
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin
With all the plans laid out properly, we often develop a mindset that what could possibly go wrong here? Well, you can never be sure about that.
Here are a few examples and probable risk mitigation plan.
- You missed to analyze external dependencies because of which you cannot deliver what was committed and you failed to meet the deadline. Plan tasks in collaboration with team and always add some buffer time while estimating tasks
- Your lead or designer or any team member quits the job. Who can immediately start taking a KT from the person? How soon can you hire a new person?
- Client rejects all the progress and asks for a significant change last minute. Come up with a basic version of idea to get the work done in limited time and propose to implement the complete requirements in next version
- Any team member goes on an unplanned vacation or falls sick. Who would be the backup resource to continue work?
Risks can be related to people, process or technology. The best and the only way to handle risks is to anticipate them in advance.
For every plan and action item in the project, as a manager you should be able to see the good, the bad and the worst outcome.
Make sure there is time allocated for undiscovered work and develop a contingency plan accordingly.
3. Adjust the plan if necessary
Once you get started with the actual work, you must be ready for all sorts of changes and modifications in your plans. Don’t badger, don’t berate. Be open and listen to what your stakeholders and team have to say and then decide what needs to be done to keep things on schedule and budget.
4. Ensure effective communication
Communication is the key to success. You must ensure proper and timely communication:
- Within the team for any change of plans, new work assignment or change in leadership. Keep the team in loop and share frequent status updates
- With all the stakeholders involved internally for any risks you see related to scope of work or cost or time or resources
- With the clients by giving regular demos, updating work progress and informing in advance about possible delays and blockers
5. Keep motivating the team
Appreciate your team’s hard work on every achievement they make. Promote an open environment for your team to consider their voices in decision making, give them their due credits and have empathy towards individual’s personal commitments and professional desires.
A happy team will always be more productive.
Just to help: Keep track of S, Q, C, T constraints
1. Learn to say NO
Sometimes you just need to inform people that you are short on time or the team is matching the set deadlines and any additional work will lead to delay.
2. Periodic reviews against set deliverable standards
Keep reviewing the tasks for milestones, quality and team member’s individual contribution.
3. Prioritize tasks
Prioritize your work. Don’t procrastinate on important tasks. It helps to quickly see the progress and helps you to not be overwhelmed with all the backlog.
4. Delegate work
Don’t hesitate to delegate your work if you are overloaded. Your job is to get things done so you are not expected to do all things on your own.
Close the project
You are done with the project, give kudos to your team first!
Once you finish the project an official closure process must happen. It is a process to get sign-off from the customer. This helps internally to release resources and manage organization finances for the project.
Few tips here:
- Always store your learning of the project so you can use it for any future references
- Keep a retrospective meeting with the team to understand what all went good, bad and what can be done to improve
Celebrate and Appreciate
It’s time for celebration! Appreciate your team members for their hard work, give the due credits to your star performers and party. You just finished your project.
Every project is unique. Different domains have different requirements. But the process to organize and manage the tasks and team remains the same. Unless we have some structured approach and well laid plans, it becomes hard to achieve those goals.
Happy project management!