In the words of one of baseball’s brightest stars Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else”.
Score a win for your IT project and realize more revenue by implementing these key project management tips. Deliver projects on time, and within budget. Just put on your manager’s cap and keep your team on track by following these simple guidelines:
No curve balls for you!
Heed the early warning signs
You don’t want to be the last to know, or to be surprised by unanticipated thunder from out of left field. With the prevalence of digital communications, the Internet, and new project management tools, you can identify trouble spots early in the game.
What are some common indicators that trouble is brewing?
- Luke-warm reception from stakeholders.
- Communication snafus, confusion about roles and expectations.
- Unclear scheduling, lack of clarity about deliverables.
Get a bird’s eye view
Get into the details of the game early on
If you use Innotas PPM and APM tool you can zoom in on and neutralize potential danger zones before they develop into full-blown problems. Innotas pinpoints patterns and trends that may not be obvious at first glance, based on comprehensive reports across all project milestones, and resources:
- Track variances in cost, effort, and schedule performance.
- Monitor detailed project statuses and resource conflicts.
- View sophisticated visuals and dashboards that help ensure quality control.
Don’t get your signs crossed: communication is key
Encourage users to document what they want, and keep everyone on the same page
- Get business stakeholders closely aligned into decision-making.
- Notify users of schedule changes early on.
- Check in with both your team and your stakeholders frequently.
- Elicit feedback directly into the project for issues and concerns from team members in a friendly, informal environment to encourage a free exchange of ideas and feedback.
- Make project review meetings enjoyable with beverages, snacks, and stimulating visuals and charts that reflect the progress of projects.
- Reinforce the need to speak up about challenges or rough areas so your team can work to clear any hurdles.
- Provide real-time status reporting for all key stakeholders.
Put the right bats in the bat rack
Be proactive — don’t take chances
Use effective tools including project and portfolio gantt charts, resource heat maps, and what-if scenarios. Specify, visualize, modify, construct, and document development of all projects and enhancements with Innotas PPM.
- Another handy tool is a dashboard that provides everyone onboard with 24/7 online access to scheduling and deliverables.
- Employ key metrics including cost and schedule ratios.
- Task software with ratios compares budgeted time and money to actual time and money spent, to date.
- Tracking expenditures week to week identifies cost and labor expenses that you can tweak back into line, and adjust expectations as needed based on clear metrics.
Small ball is better
It’s not just home runs that get the job done
Bunting to advance runners, encouraging base stealing, these are some small steps managers take to bring in a run. And project managers can break projects into small chunks and quickly disseminate the details of each stage for user feedback to anticipate necessary adjustments in a project’s scope or features. Setting weekly goals can be preferable to monthly or quarterly goals because you’ll see a forecast that alerts you to trouble signs early on.
- Deliver progress reports frequently to sustain active involvement over a long period.
- Define deliverables in concrete terms such as a specific number of lines of code due by a certain date.
- Boost team morale by giving praise for reaching milestones.
- Avoid the red flag of scheduling overtime. A healthy project shouldn’t require overtime, and it saps energy over time.
- Keep everyone on point by not diverting resources to other projects, even for short periods of time or a few hours here and there.
Rounding the bases
Whether you’re starting a project or you’re mid-way through, it’s never too late to implement the tips above
In review, it’s crucial to secure buy-in from key players, take notice of warning signs early on, get an umbrella view, reinforce communication throughout the project lifecycle, and use the right tools for the job. Finally, remember that it’s natural for projects to ebb and flow to a certain extent. Common wisdom indicates that it’s a good idea to watch and wait for a few brief (weekly) reviews before taking action to kick a problem higher up the chain of command. Like lots of things in nature, processes may self-correct if you follow the steps above and act with firm, benevolent oversight.
Need more tips, tools and advice? Download our Project Management Toolkit!