How to Create an Effective Project Management Process

This is a guest post by Jason Westland of ProjectManager.com.

Any good project manager needs to know how to create an effective project management process. Regardless of line of business or industry, there are key factors that will contribute to an effective project management process.

Without effective use of project management techniques, a project can easily slip in regards to time, deadlines, costs and organization. A solid project management strategy will save time and money, whereas a poor strategy can bring the project to expensive chaos.

The following steps can show anyone how to create an effective project management process.

1. Make sure the project is driven by business benefits

It is important to define first the business benefits that you want to achieve from the project in hand. Make sure you clearly outline your objectives and that these are communicated to all involved. It’s also important that you filter out any unwanted proposals as soon as possible to avoid clouding the more important issues in hand.

2. Constantly evaluate the project benefits throughout the project’s lifecycle

As the project evolves it is important to continuously assess and re-evaluate the marketing, operational and technical viability of the project. This needs to continue throughout the course of the < A HREF="http://www.maxwideman.com/papers/life_cycle/life_cycle.pdf">projects lifecycle. If it’s found that a project is beginning to run away with itself and is no longer viable then there are issues that need to be addressed. Do this sooner rather than later and if need be, don’t be afraid to terminate the project.

3. Identify and involve stakeholders.

When a project starts it’s important to identify who the stakeholders are. A stakeholder is someone who is directly or indirectly affected by the project. Be sure to involve the stakeholders at all stages including the beginning. By doing this and spending the time to understand the internal and external requirements of the customer you will reduce the scope for error later on in the projects development. As always with project management, ensure there is an effective communication strategy is put in place in order that all those involved are keeping up to date with progress. This will also provide people with an opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions.

4. Use effective project management techniques

It’s vital that throughout good project management techniques and control mechanisms are put in place. This is a crucial area but is often one that many managers are poorly equipped to deal with or understand.

The core control techniques that are needed are:

• Planning
• Managing risk
• Managing scope change
• Managing schedules
• Managing costs
• Conducting reviews

An effective project manager will help provide guidance, training and support for all staff related to the project. This needs to include senior managers who act as sponsors.

5. Don’t cut corners

While everyone involved in a project is keen to get things moving, it’s important that you avoid the temptation to take short cuts or skip stages especially early on in the project. Decisions made here can have far reaching consequences so good management and planning early on can save time and money later.

6. Formally close a project and learn from your mistakes

Once a project has been successfully completed you need to formally close it. This process provides an opportunity for you to learn lessons from the experience and improve processes for the future. After a sufficient amount of time has passed conduct a post implementation review to establish whether the benefits that were initially set out were achieved, whether the solution that was delivered met the needs of the business for both the customer and their clients.

Jason Westland is the author of the book the project management lifecyle. He has been in the project management industry for the past 16 years and now runs a website which provides effective project management software.

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Comments

  1. Mark's Gravatar Comment by Mark on April 29th, 2010 at 9:09 am

    For anyone who’s managing projects a PMP certificate is priceless. It teaches project management techniques and really shows that project management is a science.

  2. Practical PMO's Gravatar Comment by Practical PMO on February 9th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Ownership and accountability are an absolute must. Getting into a routine of ensuring every project has a sponsor (who knows they are accountable for delivery against the business case) and a strong project / programme manager is a great start.

    Thanks for the post.

    Simon

  3. James's Gravatar Comment by James on April 23rd, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Good post – I particularly agree with the second point about maintaining sight of the business benefits. In my experience, all too often Projects lose sight of their original business case and fail to revisit and reassess their benefits plan, especially as circumstances change, which is all too often in the project world!

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