Creating project models with best practices is a good starting point, whatever the sector and the project, although it may seem similar to others, is unique.
As technology grows and changes, projects become larger and more complex, and it’s easy to understand why.
- Best pratice n°1: Life cycle and set goals
- Best pratice n°2: Stable requirements and scope
- Best pratice n°3: Defined organization, systems and roles
- Best pratice n°4: Quality assurance
- Best pratice n°5: Planned commitments
- Best pratice n°6: Variance monitoring and analysis
- Best pratice n°7: Corrective actions
- Best pratice n°8: Escalation and problem management
- Best pratice n°9: Authorization and monitoring of changes
Many project teams have grown to include members who work remotely from all over the world and modern project managers recognize that shorter project cycles are key to remain on the market.
Using these best practices will allow pro-active decision-making and help manage a project to succeed.
Best practice n°1: Life cycle and set goals
The first best practice is about life cycle. Organizations should map and define key phases, outcomes, targets and criteria for each group involved in the project.
The life cycle of a project consists of four phases: concept, planning, implementation and deployment, and this type of management is implemented in all types of industry.
Best practice n°2: Stable requirements and scope
A successful project management implies that the requirements, objectives and scope of the project are substantiated and defined at the beginning of the project’s life cycle.
Answering the following questions ensures that all stakeholders share a common understanding of the requirements and scope:
- What is to be done?
- Which product or service will be produced?
- What are the objectives and benefits?
- When the result will be achieved, what will be the measure of its success?
- What are the final results?
- What physical manifestation of the result will occur?
- What are the performance standards?
- How are the validity, usefulness, correctness and completeness of the results determined?
- What are the conditions that affect performance, time and costs?
- What are the limits of the project in terms of priorities and resources?
- What are the risks to be aware of?
Best practice n°3: Defined organization, systems and roles
In all organizations, projects must have defined roles for the project manager, project managers, project team members, and corporate executives.
Responsibilities should be identified and understood by everyone. A system of communication and involvement of the team and stakeholders is essential for success.
Best practice n°4: Quality assurance
The quality of projects requires the identification of standards and criteria to be established at each stage of the project life cycle for both the product and the process.
Each project should aim to improve this best practice, especially when a process has shown shortcomings in quality.
Best practice n°5: Planned commitments
Plans must be based on the process capacity of the organization and not just on a mere desire.
Plans should be rigorously planned as they address all elements of the project management process.
It is never too early to start planning and the project planning must continue even when there is not enough information to execute the formalized plan.
The planning aims to reduce uncertainty and insecurity and increase the chances of success of the project.
If there is not enough information to produce a plan, the planning should focus on how to collect enough data to be able to plan the next phase.
The following are the components of a project plan:
- The scope and mission, which define the limits of the project and establish the objectives.
- Evaluation of the sequences and duration of the activities in addition to the requirements of the resources.
- The budget, i.e. the development of an overall cost estimate based on the individual elements of work.
- The personnel needs specified on the basis of the activities foreseen in the project.
- Evaluation and control during all phases of the project.
- Risks and problems that must be systematically identified, assessed and managed. Proper risk management implies the control of possible future negative events and a proactive action rather than a reactive one.
- Quality, which indicates what are the established performance requirements to be met.
Best practice n°6: Variance monitoring and analysis
Projects should be managed using a process where deviations from plans are reported and resolved. Any other way is inefficient.
An effective project management process requires regular reporting and meetings of the project team to identify when things are off-target.
Best practice n°7: Corrective actions
When deviations from the plan are detected, the standard assumption is that the team or functional groups will work to get the project back on track.
Without a well-defined procedure, the corrective action can have many results, sometimes inconsistent with the company’s objectives.
Often it is necessary to make some compromises, such as increasing costs or reducing scope to save time, for example.
Best practice n°8: Escalation and problem management
Often in project environments, good news spreads and bad news remains silent until it is too late.
An effective escalation procedure requires that problems are dealt with at their lowest level.
If the problem cannot be solved and ended, it must be raised to the next higher organizational level and so on until the problem is settled.
Best practice n°9: Authorization and monitoring of changes
Late changes in projects are one of the main sources of interruption leading to program deviations, cost overruns, defects and rework.
A formal system of monitoring and change management needs to be established.
A key challenge for project managers is to ensure that control is established over both ways in which work is authorized and how changes are approved.
When it comes to controlling configuration changes, the project manager is at the center of communications and must be ready to make timely decisions.
Since changes will occur, it is important to establish a change log.
This will allow the project manager to properly evaluate the proposed changes based on the most recent information.
These nine factors for creating project management models represent the best practices necessary for successful project implementation.
Experience has shown that most virtuous organizations involved in project management use these elements consistently.