Posted: January 24, 2011
The last seven project fundamentals
Keep tabs on what's happeningLaurence B. Valant
Editor's note: Here is another valuable excerpt from the new success book by national business consultant Laurence B. Valant and partner Gayle W. Hustad, "Lead and Manage! The definitive guide for getting the results you want." Read Part 1 and Part 2.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTAL #5
SELECT AN EFFECTIVE PROJECT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The variety of systems available for project management ranges from the most simple, such as a Gantt chart or an Excel spreadsheet, to highly sophisticated systems that include advanced variations of PERT and other computer-based project management, systems such as MS Project. It is important not to select a more complex system than is required. By the same token, the system must be able to handle the complexity required for a successful project completion and outcome.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTAL #6
CLEARLY SPECIFY THE PROJECT BEGINNING AND END DATES
Perhaps because they are so painfully obvious, two critical dates are often omitted by those who oversee the planning of company projects: the actual beginning or start date of the project, and the end or completion date of the project. These dates must be clearly specified, for they are part of the clear commitment made by the project manager and the project team.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTAL #7
CLEARLY ESTABLISH MILESTONES / DELIVERABLES FOR EACH PROJECT GOAL OR OBJECTIVE
Key project milestones are essential for successful project monitoring and tracking. Each milestone is a major event, or signifies a completion of several minor events which collectively mark the conclusion of a clearly defined portion of the project. These milestones must be clearly delineated and identified as critical dates in the project plan, and are used for tracking progress in the weekly reporting and review process. On time accomplishment of the milestones assures the project is on track and on schedule and that the planned outcomes and objectives of the project will themselves be delivered on time and on budget.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTAL # 8
ENSURE WEEKLY MONITORING AND REPORTING
If any one area will lead to disastrous project results, it would be the failure to monitor and report progress weekly and to hold the project manager and his team accountable for the results they generate. Weekly monitoring and reporting cannot be viewed as optional. All too often, the bother of weekly monitoring and reporting causes an otherwise sound project management system to degenerate into a sloppy acceptance of missed milestones and project due dates. The discipline of weekly project reporting is of the utmost importance.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTAL # 9
WEEKLY BUDGET TIED TO MAJOR MILESTONES
The project budget must be broken down, first on a weekly basis and then tied to specific milestones. This allows accurate tracking of progress and the cost for the delivery of each major milestone. The ability to track budget progress and milestone accomplishment on a weekly basis provides excellent project monitoring, control and adherence to budget.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTAL #10
VISIBILITY TO LEADERSHIP
Leaders must willingly monitor project progress closely and regularly to ensure that the weekly review process is used effectively and consistently. The unrelenting follow-up by leadership will assure success the rate for all projects undertaken. Regular review of every project under their purview is essential. Project visibility to company leadership must take the form of participation in the reviews on a periodic basis and in sufficient detail to ensure that every project manager knows their performance is subject to scrutiny from the highest levels.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT FUNDAMENTAL # 11
ENSURE WEEKLY CLIENT CONTACT
There are two equally-critical components of effective client management and both are the responsibility of the project manager: 1) Insuring on time presentation of the client deliverables as required for project success and 2) weekly client contact to ensure that client's satisfaction.
Perhaps the most common excuse offered for project delay is "the client didn't get their deliverables to us on time". To ensure the project stays on time and on budget, the project manager must anticipate and ensure client deliverables are on time. Failure to manage the client, or in some cases the vendor, will result in project delays. During the project planning stage, establish realistic and achievable client deliverables. Establish weekly contact with the client to ensure top of mind awareness. Elevate concerns to the highest authority necessary to ensure the project stays on time and on budget. Provide weekly reporting that reflects the client's deliverables.
There should be no surprises for clients. A weekly call to update the client, whether the client is internal or external, ensures they are informed and updated regarding all client deliverables. The weekly call also assures discovery of an unhappy client and allows for resolution of small problems before they become big problems. Weekly client calls and emails should be noted and filed for reference if needed.
Laurence B. Valant is President and CEO of Valant & Co., a Denver-based business performance improvement consultancy that has worked with almost 300 firms to increase their value by billions of dollars. He is co-author of the hot-selling new book, “Make Plan! With Effective Execution” and now, “Lead and Manage!” Valant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-589-3840. If you want more information or would like to order a copy of “Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance,” please visit www.valantco.com.