The completion of projects so that they come in by a certain deadline and within the budget that has been set for them ultimately determines whether a business will prosper or fail. This is what success looks like as far as most companies are concerned, and it’s vital that a thorough and effective methodology is established whenever a project has to be started.
Savvy organisations know how to deliver successful projects every time – if they’re in an industry like engineering, where successful project management is vital, they have to. When everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected in terms of results and outcomes, a coherent plan can be put together and there will hopefully be no surprises at any point throughout the process.
The planning stage is by far the most important stage of any project – when enough time is spent discussing what is expected from the project and how that can realistically be achieved, its ultimate success becomes a lot more likely.
What makes a project successful? Is it the length of time it takes to complete? Is it ensuring that it comes in under or on budget? Different people have different opinions, so it is best to use the planning stage to decide on the criteria for a successful project. The key stakeholders should be involved and able to contribute their opinions and thoughts in order to come to a final answer.
The objectives should be easier to define and establish as far as the key stakeholders are concerned, because it is only once these have been completed that the project as a whole can be deemed finished. If a project does not complete all of its specified objectives, it has failed. The team’s requirements and the client’s expectations should be taken into account here.
The parameters are clear, but the progress towards the completion of each objective should also be measured and charted so that project managers can ensure the whole thing is staying within projected timeframes.
Another major aspect of successful project planning is the securing and allocation of resources needed to begin work on the project and complete the objectives that should now have been decided upon. Project resources usually mean staff availability and budget constraints, though it can be expanded to include certain equipment that might be needed.
It’s important to get the balance right first time here – for example, it can be tempting to overload on junior staff if you think you can’t spare experienced staff, but this can cause problems in the long-run, resulting in the experienced staff having to be used to troubleshoot further down the line.
Projects aren’t just about targets and resources – they’ll be completed by people, not machines, and it’s therefore important that they buy into what the project is trying to achieve and recognise how it benefits the company as a whole. Even though it should really be a given that an employee will put 100% into their work, this isn’t realistic all of the time, and it will become less so if they remain unengaged with the project and their role within it. Taking the time to help them understand the personal and professional benefits of the project will go a long way towards ensuring their engagement with it.
It should be clear that savvy organisations ultimately deliver successful projects at the planning stage, before anything has actually been started. When a company properly allocates its resources, such as engaged and happy staff, to complete predetermined objectives and meet predetermined criteria for success, this will ensure that the project achieves its aims for both themselves and the client.