Key Steps for Effective Project Management
28 May 2021
Key Steps for Effective Project Management
What are the key steps for effective project management? The project manager ensures that the team achieves its overall goals, via a set of successful objectives. This is ideally done on time, within budget, and to an acceptable quality standard. The main challenge with project management is making sure that both goals and objectives are realized, despite any constraints or obstacles that might come along the way. One of the most important aspects of project management is identifying and managing the key steps on this journey.
Why Project Management?
A project is a temporary undertaking, with a defined start and end time, meaning that it needs to be managed within a specific time and within a specifically allocated budget. Our own definition of project management states that it’s:
the planning organising and controlling of resources, to successfully complete a specific project by meeting the original objectives set.
Each project is a unique undertaking, in other words it’s not an operation that takes place routinely or continually. Rather it’s a set of operations that are aligned in order to achieve a certain goal. This means that, in most cases, a project team might include input from different teams, other organizational departments or even external consultants or experts. Each are likely to bring different skill-sets or expertise, capitalising on the use of strengths to enhance the team’s synergy.
This explains why a project team needs to include (or be supported by) experts. But co-ordinating and leading these experts requires a focus on some key project management steps. Think about the following to help you manage projects. You’ll find them particularly useful if project management is not your main role as a manager, or not your day job!
Project Management Steps
There is no shortage of project management guidelines to help managers deliver on a project. However, synthesizing all these guidelines into key steps will help non-specialist managers to succeed. If you’re new to project management, or given project to manage along with everything else, think about these key steps.
1. Understanding the Scope and Requirements of the Project
Failing to understand the requirements of your projects is a recipe for project failure. It is essential that the project’s scope, requirements and goals are clear to all stakeholders involved in the project before work is commenced. One of the project manager’s most important roles is to ensure that these are clearly defined and articulated to all concerned. That’s why the essence of our own project management guidelines is a statement of the project’s:
- Aims – broad scope of the project
- Objectives – specific elements to be addressed
- Outcomes – what will happen if successful
2. Plan Risks, Schedules, and Resources
The next key step requires the project manager to plan the project, identifying milestones, work breakdown structures, and important deliverables. The plan should also provide a detailed schedule showing the deadlines for tasks and sub-tasks, and who is responsible for delivering them. It should also identify resources that are available for the success of the project and indicate when these will need to be available. Matching resource deployment with the schedule ensures wastage is reduced and that the right resources are applied to the right tasks.
3. Organizing and Using Project Management Tools
One of the most important things in project management is getting all teams, project requirements, and communication organized. This is done most effectively by using tools which may or may not be specifically for project management. For instance, most people use email as a form of routine communication in their organizations, which is also essential for projects. However, if a project manager is sending emails individually to all the stakeholders involved in the project, the project isn’t being managed very well.
It’s far better to make effective use of project management tools and technology to automate such tasks. With advancements in technology, there are numerous tools that are expertly designed with the aim of helping organizations manage all stages of their projects. Or for projects requiring specialist or technical input, there is no shortage of bespoke tools to make the project manager’s life easier. For example, a project to build a new API (Applications Programming Interface), could draw on a list of API management tools to ensure the entire process is managed, not just during development but also throughout the entire life-cycle of the API.
4. Delivery, Monitoring, Closure
Once the project manager has assembled the team and necessary resources, project team members can start working on different tasks as required, making sure they are meeting deadlines and milestone or way-point outcomes. The team members and other relevant stakeholders involved should be informed about progress, via clear communication channels and processes. The project manager needs ensure that this progress is monitored by tracking work being done, checking this against the original project schedule. Any actual or expected deviations from this schedule need to be explored, explained and addressed.
Once the project has achieved its goals, the implementation process is closed. However, before disbanding the team, use this time to evaluate how the project went. Identify what worked well and what didn’t. Actively seek input from all relevant stakeholders about both the project process, and the standard of the outcome. Test the service/product/process that has been created and get feedback from users or customers. Measure the project outcomes against the original objectives. What can be learned about both outcomes and the process to inform and improve the way you manage the next project? You can find more on this in our project management model:
These steps will help to ensure the success of a project. They should be used in conjunction with a project management checklist which is useful to ensure you’re properly prepared before the project’s launch.
Effective project management is very important for any organization that wants to be successful. It’s also becoming a role that many managers undertake, regardless of their technical knowledge on project processes. Think about these key steps for effective project management to help you projects succeed. They will help you to understand the project properly, resource and schedule it, then deliver outcomes which are on time, within budget, and to an acceptable standard.
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