At times Project Management can seem like an art more than a science. IT projects can be particularly challenging. So how do you choose a project and what are the essential criteria to ensure a successful project?
While there is no magical formula, here are seven tips to keep in mind for a successful IT project.
1. How to Choose Projects
You should choose projects that are important to the organization. Not just in the present, but in the future as well. They should fill an important need such as a new service or the expansion of a present service.
The project should be in alignment with the business needs. This is a huge factor. No matter how good the idea, if it does not align with the business it is doomed or worse the project will be revised to death. Align with the business needs from the start.
Once you have chosen a project you must ensure that all of the appropriate resources are available. These include the budget to fund the project, the people, equipment, space and anything else needed for the project.
Nothing can derail your project faster than a lack of resources. Upper management must be committed to providing the resources needed to get the job done. By the time an idea reaches the project status, failure is not an option. Be SURE you have all of the resources you need from the start.
3. Get Input From Everyone
Include all of the people who are affected by and have a stake in the project. Most importantly meet with those who will use the results of the project to get their expectations. You want to make sure those who present the project have realistic expectations and you will get a better sense of their needs.
Solicit the input of everyone you can think of that can help with the project. Do not forget about departments that may not be directly connected to the result of the project, but can put your project on hold due to their requirements. A good example of this is security management. You don’t want to be halfway home and have security or network management tell you that you cannot do it that way.
4. Setup Your Project Oversight Board
Now that you know who needs to be involved you can setup your project oversight board. This group of people will be the main source of information when you need it. They will also be the judge and jury on your project.
Setup this board from the beginning. These are the people who will need to make the hard choices and difficult decisions. They need to be engaged in the project from the start. Keep them informed with regular updates and feedback.
5. Project Initiation Document
You know where you are going, but you do not yet know how you are going to get there. You need a map to show you the way. Create a project initiation document with your project team. Allow the board to review it along with any key stakeholders.
Since this will be the groundwork for the project you should once again have input from all parties. Get signoff’s on the document so there is accountability. In particular if your project is dependent on something from another group.
6. Project Kickoff!
It’s time to start the ball rolling so get it off to a good start by holding a kickoff meeting. This should include the full team, not just the project manager. It will show the team how important they are to the success of the project.
Include all the key stakeholders and anyone else you can drag in. The more the merrier and the better support you will have for your project. This helps make sure everyone is aligned and enthusiastic about the project. Enthusiasm will be important in the grueling months ahead so grab all you can.
Beyond kickoff do not forget to keep your team pumped up. When things get tough, take a break and align everyone again.
7. Project Communications
Now that the project is ongoing communications is very important. Team members must communicate with each other and the project manager. Progress must be tracked so that everyone who has a stake can see where the project is.
Keeping the stakeholders involved with help make sure the project is still aligned with expectations. While this does leave you open to the “What if we do this?” questions, it helps ensure there will be no surprises.
Who said projects must be hard? With a little planning, communicating and a brush of your magic wand you will deliver the best project ever. Seriously, project management is a hard job. It takes hard work and commitment from yourself, your team and the stakeholders.
Making sure everyone with a stake and the team are aligned is critical. This will help avoid the expansion of the scope because somebody forgot about something. Regular project reviews are essential. Not only do you see where you are, but potential issues can be uncovered before they become problems.
From project initiation to project close communication skills are vital for managers and team members. Don’t be blind-sided by a requirement you did not know see coming. Communications is the most important key to success before, during and after to have a successful project.