A project can be compared to the long term travel for 1-2 years. If the team doesn’t anticipate roadblocks, the project will likely go beyond the planned timeline and costs. Not every manager can identify obstacles well in advance. That is why Alexander Drozd, AtlantConsult project manager, shares his own experience on how to complete the project on time and under a budget.
To prevent extra expenses and delays, at the stage of project planning pay attention to the factors that cause them. It refers to ad hoc tasks, sick leaves, vacations, ongoing work and lack of management. It is also a problem when team members understand project goals differently.
To sum it up, I gathered the key tips helping to get the project done on time and within budget:
Set 1-3 well-defined goals
Revise them regularly
Specify project requirements
Motivate project members
Establish a steering committee
Consider leaves in a project timeline
1. Set 1-3 well-defined goals
Most people assume the project’s purposes as a formality. So, they are rarely followed. However, a goal has the potential of a focal point that helps a team not to get scattered and achieve goals faster.
Setting your project objectives, make sure they are specific and measurable.
When they are indeterminate, everybody interprets them in his own way. That causes the execution of unnecessary work and keeps a team from meeting timeline and budget.
Here are viable examples of goals:
- To reduce a closing period (month) to 5 business days.
To reduce a stock reserve by 3% with comparable sales.
To reduce the average term of overdue receivables to 10 business days.
Another problem refers to the number of goals. Some companies assume the more targets a company addresses, the better. It is a misconception. The more goals, the more difficult it becomes to follow them throughout a project. Experience shows the optimal amount of objectives is 1-3.
2. Revise goals regularly
Any additional component lengthens the project timeline. But not always they worth it. Often, added tasks weakly correlate with initial goals. Sometimes they even remain unclaimed afterward.
To avoid such scenarios, go back to the project goals document. It will help you assess a new assignment and figure out whether it moves you closer to the intended result or not.
3. Specify project requirements
The clearer a business describes its requirements in a project plan, the more productive a project team becomes.
Project requirements affect several aspects of work:
Type of contractor
Checking the business requirements enables to understand whether the business consulting is needed or it is enough just to set up new software.
Project management methodology
When requirements are precise, the Waterfall approach can be used. If there are no exact requirements, then it is better to adopt Agile.
Generalized requirements inevitably lead to misunderstandings between contractor and client. As a result, the likelihood of mistakes rises. Usually, it leads to the regular revision of already made decisions and completed work. That obviously slows down the project.
All project team members should comprehend a project scope uniformly. In doing so, they turn their creativity in a right direction and limit ideas of how an adjacent process could be improved. As a result, the team stays on track.
4. Motivate project members
During projects, I often see that clients’ team members aren’t motivated to participate. One of the reasons is that nobody exempts them from a current work. If employees face a dilemma, where to invest their efforts - in the current work or in the project, more likely they will choose the ongoing work.
There is a misconception that a contractor can solely execute a project. Even if at the beginning a business provides a contractor with precise requirements, different questions appear during a project. When both sides are actively involved in the entire process, results will be attained faster.
Also, managers offer their team additional motivation to complete a project on time. I advise considering additional motivation not as extra expenditures, but as a factor determining the time of getting benefits.
Generally, every company expects to gain economic benefits after completing a project. So, it matters when a company will receive them: this year or the next.
5. Establish a steering committee
The situation in a company may change during a project. It often requires redefining the goals and the tasks of the project to the new conditions. A steering committee should regulate these aspects, as it typically includes decision makers from the company’s and the contractor’s sides.
I would point out the main functions of the steering committee:
The board introduces new resources into a project and manages their replacement. That implies employees, money, equipment, etc.
When contentious issues emerge, one team members try to make other participants change their mind. It creates tension between participants and increases extra time spent.
When the project team forwards such issues to a steering committee, participants prevent negative consequences.
6. Consider leaves in a project timeline
It is better to add in a project plan a cushion for the vacations of key employees. Otherwise, they would greatly shift the set timeline.
Regarding the current situation of the pandemic, include in your plan the additional 1-2 weeks per year for sick leaves.
Not all managers employ management theory in practice. However, these 6 tips are derived from the practice, that is why I recommend bearing them in mind.