Top 10 Ways To Improve Project Management

Top 10 Ways To Improve Project Management

There is no doubt in my opinion if a business can improve project management, it will also improve the performance of the businesses, increase revenue and reduce costs and ultimately increase profits. But what exactly can businesses do to improve project management performance in their business? Well to answer that question, I have created a short slide show of what I consider to be the most effective ways to improve project management in your business. This is the top 20% that gives the biggest return.

I have worked with countless business across Australia and Asia improving their project management systems through our project management consulting services and the list below is a great starting point for any business wishing to improve project management capability.

Improve Project Management With My Top 20% Of Project Management That Gives 80% Of The Results

My Top 10 Ways To Improve Project Management:

Improve Project Management By Documenting Project Requirements

There is not better way to improving project management than by improving your understanding of the projects objectives. By having a clear understanding of the project objectives and requirements and documenting what the project is trying to achieve is critical for success. This ensures that the Project Management and project team have clear boundaries of what is in scope and and what is out of scope. Once there is a list of requirements that have been captured documented, it is important to rank them and focus on the critically important requirements first.

Spend time communicating the requirements to the key stakeholders and spend time getting agreements and approval for the requirements and objectives of the project.

Improve Project Management Collaboration By Using Cloud Based Project Management Tools

Using cloud based project management tools can greatly increase the project communication and engagement with teams and stakeholders. These tools are also designed to improve project management, facilitate collaboration and many can provide built in frameworks and workflows, which can improve the robustness if you are lacking project management systems and processes.

Improve Project Management With Schedules And Task Lists

In order for a project to be completed, there are often thousands of steps that need to be completed, sometimes in a specific order. One of the best ways to improve project management is to tightly control these tasks by creating a project schedule or Gantt Chart. a Gantt Chart is simply a graphical horizontal bar chart representation of the project tasks set out along a timeline. It is not required for every project however, for many projects, simply creating a task list will improve things greatly.

In order for a task list or Gantt Chart to be effective, it needs to show sufficient details, I generally aim for a detail level of daily tasks. The Gantt Chart or task list does not need to be too scientific, but there does need to be enough detail for you to manage and control.

Improve Project Management With Effective Risks Management

Risks and the unknown elements make projects much higher risk than business as usual, therefore a key technique to improve project management is to tightly monitor and control project risks. Don’t be scared of risk management, it is one of the most critical components to a successful project, effective risk management helps to overcome the “oops” factor and Murphy’s Law. For many projects, risk management does not need to be scientific – sure you could carry out quantitative risk analysis and calculate the probabilities and provide highly detailed impact “what if” scenarios, but the truth is, for most projects a simple qualitative assessment of the risks you will give you enough to effectively manage the project risks.

Qualitative risk management is best done in a group environment, this aim is to identify as many risks as possible, right them down, then right down a strategy and plan how to avoid or reduce those risks.

Measure And track milestones

Schedules, especially ones that track daily or sub daily tasks will change regularly; some tasks will be completed early, others late, new tasks may be introduced and priorities could change. In order to maintain a strategic view of the project, try measuring and tracking performance against a list of defined milestones set at key points in the project, that ideally should not change too often.

Milestones should be designed around key deliverables and used as s guide post to ensure that the daily changes in the schedule does not impact on the project and gives early warning if the projects schedules required recalibration. Maintaining this higher level view of the project key deliverable dates will help to improve project management reporting and aid in on time completion of projects.

Improve Project Management Maturity By Capturing learnings

The lessons learnt process is one of the best ways for an organisation to learn and improve project management capability. To do it effectively you should ensure the following the steps below:

  • write down what went wrong
  • what risks occurred and how was the mitigation managed
  • what project tasks took longer than expected and try and understand why
  • document all the variances from the project plan
  • workshop what things could have been done better to improve the project
  • it can also be valuable to walk through what wen right, or better than planned and document the reasons why

Write it all down! Don’t fall into the trap of believing everyone will just remember it, because they won’t and you won’t. Once you have captured all the learnings, share the lessons learnt with the rest of your team and be sure to review them before starting your next similar project, this is a sure fire way to improve project management.

Improve Project Management With Effective Communication

As humans, we are not naturally great communicators in my opinion and it can be a key reason for projects to fail. In a project, I don’t believe there can ever be too much communication, but the trick is keeping your communication relevant, clear, concise with targeted and tailored messages for each stakeholder group. There are many cloud based project management tools that can help with project communication.

Qualified Project Management Professionals

It seems a simple solution: To improve project management performance, hire project managers, but the biggest problem businesses face is that almost anyone can call themselves a “project manager” but very few people actually understand the principles and best practices of project management to do it effectively, the result is that some reports suggest that over 70% of projects fail. That is a scary statistic!

In order to give your project every chance of success then you really should be looking for certified project management professionals. Certified Project Managers have been tested and endorsed by independent industry experts, they have demonstrated experience in applying best practice project management techniques and frameworks in the management of projects and carry the post nominals of CPPM (certified practicing project manager) or PMP (project management professional) or RegPM (registered project manager). The peak project management associations are:

  • Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM)
  • Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • International Project Management Association (IPMA)
  • Institute of Project Management (IPM)

Theoretical qualifications in project management include Certificate IV in Project Management – designed for project team members, Diploma of Project Management – designed for project managers, Advanced Diploma of Project Management – designed for senior project managers and project directors and recently Master of Project Management – designed for theoretical depth.

Following Project Management Frameworks Will Improve Project Management Performance

There are 3 mainstream project management frameworks that a project manager can use depending on their qualifications, training and industry experience those are:

  1. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) – PMBoK has the largest user base in the world
  2. Projects in controlled environments version2 (Prince2) – Prince2 is the second largest user base in the world and is common amongst government projects, thanks to it government heritage
  3. Agile project management is growing interest amongst software projects thanks to its highly iterative deliverable cycle – it’s  high flexibility is also highly dangerous to a junior project manager

There is also the first international standard in project management that was released in 2012 the ISO:21500 – it is in it’s first version and draws concepts from PMBoK and Prince2. It is however too limited to be used in isolation.

Understand The Reasons And Benefits

You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. This is why I am also surprised by the amount of projects that don’t clearly document the reasons why the project is being done and what the specific benefits the business needs to achieve in order to justify the return on investment.

Begin by understanding why the project is being done – is it to improve a process? reduce an operational cost? create a new product line? then capture this as the project driver (the reason the project to exists). Having a deep understanding of why the project is being done will help you deliver a success project, this understanding is key if you wish to improve project management results.

Business Benefits Realisation

Once there is an understanding as to why the project exists, the specific measurable benefits need to be documented (i.e. reduce operating costs by 10%, launch product x on a certain date). This information is critical to determine if the project was successful or not. A project can only be successful if it delivers the benefits that the business was trying to achieve.

Once knowing this information, it should be used to frame every project decision and for the basis of all the project plans moving forward. Nothing will improve project management more than delivering a project to a business or client that allows them to realise the strategic benefit.

Engage Subject Matter Experts

We don’t know what we don’t know. That is the danger of trying to use the internal resources of an organisation if they are not suitably qualified. Don’t be tempted to put your best engineer as the project manager, he may be a great technical engineer, but may not make a great project manager. The best way to ensure success is (this is something every good project manager should do) to identify gaps in skills and knowledge areas and engage suitably qualified subject matter experts.

The Project Manager, should be the subject matter expert in project management, not the subject matter expert in the technical project. Gaining this maturity in your organisation means that you will be ready for more advanced techniques to improve project management further.

 

Thats it! That is what I consider to be the top 10 ways to improve project management in your business, if you think there is something that I have missed and the needs to be included in the list, then please leave a comment. If you found this article useful, then please share it with your network and click on the share button below. If you would like me to work with you in your business I do offer various project management consulting packages.

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Who Wrote This Article? ...(It was: Chris O'Halloran)

I'm "Chris O". I've managed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects since the inception of my career. I love helping others figure out the intricacies of project management on any scale. Come find me on twitter or google+

Comments That Have Been Left So Far:

  1. Above tip helps one to become a successful project manager http://avli.com.au/courses/diploma-of-project-management

  2. Kenneth S said:

    I’m a starting project manager and this article helped get a general view of how things should be done. Thanks!

  3. Great article

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