Any organization growing their operations will be faced with the complexities of organizing tasks for the different projects they are carrying out. To be efficient in executing these projects, proper management from planning to doing, all the way to budgeting must be fluid and well organized. Otherwise, there will be gaps that can potentially affect the efficiency of the project.
What is Project Management?
Project management plays an important role in large organizations. Over time, it has grown to be a well-studied and well-recognized management practice that’s seen a lot of developments over the century.
As companies and organizations grow, so do the volume of projects. Projects, especially for large-scale businesses, require structure from the planning stage all the way to the post-project stage. It is difficult to keep track of projects, especially in dynamic organizations, which is why project management plans are implemented to help organize a project and guarantee its success.
Different techniques are applied from the planning to execution stages. There are now a variety of resources you can find to help an individual with their project management skills, but it’s always important to learn and understand the principles of project management.
8 Principles of Project Management
Principles are your fundamentals for successful project management. Here, we discuss 8 principles to remember to help you execute a successful project.
Structure & Definition
Anything that stands sturdy relies on the support of a good structure. This is the same case when it comes to project management. During the early planning stage, having a structure and definition helps set the stage for later success.
Structuring and defining the project means identifying its needs and outlining them in a well-thought-out plan. The needs may include factors like the manpower and team, the budget, the materials needed, and so on. This will help keep the project under control and troubleshoot future challenges that may arise throughout the project’s duration. Without structure and definition, it is hard to have a steady direction for the project.
Keeping track of communication is a challenge that project management novices are all too familiar with, especially considering that projects involve multiple people.
For most of a project, communication plays a vital role in transferring information. Issues, escalations, hurdles, and progress reports are all important matters that need to be communicated with the team and stakeholders to properly address any obstacles that will hinder progress.
Creating a communication plan eliminates the risk of poor communication that ultimately leads to the failure of the project. A communication plan also helps keep stakeholders engaged throughout the workflow.
Clear Goals and Objectives
Another important foundation of successful project management is having a clear set of goals and objectives. Defining these early on helps guide your activities and ensures that every phase of the project advances the ultimate goal.
Being able to lay down the goal of the project and a number of objectives that take you one step closer to achieving it helps you develop a purpose for each task involved in your workflow. Further, these need to be communicated to team members so that everyone is on the same page and knows that their work contributes to a bigger picture.
Documented Roles, Responsibilities, and Accountability
Assigning and delegating roles and responsibilities will make project accountability a lot clearer. When you are involving a team in a project, it is important to document their individual roles and to define their responsibilities. That way, you know who the right stakeholders are for a specific type of project. In the same manner, they can carry out their tasks more effectively because they are clear on their responsibilities and roles in the workflow.
In times of crisis, accountability comes into the picture. When a crisis does occur, it’s important to know what or who is accountable so as to properly troubleshoot the problem. An often-used structure to properly appoint team members is the RACI chart (sometimes also RASCI).
S: Sign-off Authority (if used)
When plotting tasks, you can assign a member a specific letter in the RACI chart to properly allocate who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and involved. This makes the flow of information a lot more fluid and helps clearly lay down the responsibilities of team members.
Even honesty plays a big role in project management. When the figures aren’t true to what they are, they create a false sense of progress and can give rise to problems that will come back to haunt you.
Transparency, especially to your project sponsor, is important to help ground the project in reality. Most times, projects will encounter hurdles and obstacles. To seasoned project managers, these are all normal, and being transparent with your project sponsor and the team helps create sound contingency plans as well as solutions if problems do arise.
It may not be the most comfortable thing to report obstacles faced throughout the project, but being transparent definitely pays off in the endeavor’s long-term success.
Committed Stakeholders: PM and Project Sponsor
Two of the most crucial roles in a project are the project manager and the project sponsor. The project manager oversees the project from the planning stage all the way to the post-project. It is common for project managers to be all hands on deck throughout the duration of the project
An equally important role, on the other hand, that most likely won’t manage every day operations would be the project sponsor. The project sponsor focuses on making sure that there are enough resources for the completion of a project and also holds the big responsibility of promoting the project and communicating with board members to give them updates.
With both committed stakeholders playing a huge role in the conception and duration of the project, finding the right people for the job is crucial to a project’s success.
Prior to even giving that go signal for a project, it’s important to properly assess the risks involved so as to minimize its impact. Risks, if not properly managed, can easily deplete resources and create big problems.
Risk management helps the team identify potential issues or failures and create strategies to solve them should the need arise. While it is ideal that everything goes according to plan, that’s not always the case. Planning ahead and preparing risk management plans will help significantly when problems arise, making crisis management a lot easier.
Success: Measurement, Performance, Progress
Of course, success will always be the ultimate goal when a project is started. But measuring success can be difficult at times.
While measuring success may not always be variable, setting milestones helps in giving you an idea of how far you’ve gone. Different methods can be used for this, but perhaps the most popular one is a Gantt chart.
Gantt charts let you measure the progress and performance of a project. The chart states the expected time of completion for a task as well as the time used. This allows you to have a clear picture of how much progress has been made and ultimately, how successful the project is.
Even when a project is completed and achieves initial success, it is still important to track its progress post-project. These will be the measure for how successfully the project was implemented and if needed, will provide data for innovation and further improvements.
Implementing Project Management Principles
While all these principles might be a lot to digest, it comes naturally over time. Projects are often unpredictable, but they are controllable. Careful planning makes project development a lot more manageable and having these principles as a guide can increase the likeliness of your success.
Of course, all these need to be implemented to take effect. Now that we are aware of the principles, conducting implementation steps will be a breeze.
Projects are great signs that an organization or company is growing. But it’s easier said than done as they take a lot of planning and resources to properly execute.
Projects are, however, manageable with the right mindset and skills. Using the 8 project management principles as your guidelines whenever you are working on a project will definitely increase the likelihood of your success.