Consistently delivering projects successfully—results that are on time and on budget, and meeting (or exceeding) all stakeholder expectations—isn’t easy. It requires an ongoing commitment at the highest levels of the organization to secure access to the resources to make it all happen, but that isn’t the whole story. Even with adequate funding at your disposal, other elements play important roles in moving every project to a successful completion.
If you want to be sure your project team is ready to achieve project success, consider these areas where you should be prepared well in advance.
The skills. Pulling together the human capital is a primary step for any project. However, you need more than just people. You need people with the right blend of capabilities, knowledge, credentials, and availability. Some of these elements are difficult or expensive to procure over and over, particularly as industry standards change, best practices evolve, and skills age. To ensure you have the right people in position to help launch, plan, and execute your project, you should begin by determining which skills make sense to keep in-house. These may be experts with niche certifications required by regulatory rules, or recruiters whose investment in your company’s culture make them highly effective at finding candidates who fit well with the rest of the project team.
Outside vendors might also occupy a slot on the list of skills you should have in place to increase your project readiness. These could range from an experienced project management consultancy to legal counsel—any function that’s key to moving a project through its lifecycle competently and efficiently.
The processes. Jumping from one set of processes to another occupies time, and usually when you don’t have it: during a project’s early planning stages. Teams that need to recreate the wheel each time, such as rebuilding communication channels or developing invoice workflows, waste time when they can least afford it. They also run the risk of overlooking important process steps, implementing processes that conflict with one another, or adopting strategies that don’t meet applicable compliance mandates. Each of these mistakes increases the chances that your project will become mired in regulatory headaches or other challenges, potentially putting success out of reach.
The systems. Which documentation management platform will project stakeholders use? How will vendors submit data, ideas and suggestions for collaborative review and approval? There’s a growing reliance on technology solutions to manage information, interactions, and other components of even the smallest and most straightforward projects. When the effort is complex, the infrastructure behind it needs to be truly robust—something that’s nearly impossible to build in the relatively brief period of time between the project’s concept phase and the start of planning. You may not have a need for some of these systems in between projects, but they should be in place and ready to scale when the next initiative comes along.
The methodology. A company may execute projects regularly, but that doesn’t mean they have an established project management methodology ready to go for the next initiative. Many groups simply wing it when it comes to the way they plan and execute projects, leaving them to spin up a strategy every time a new project enters the picture. Even where some sort of methodology is in place, it’s likely that some stakeholders have either received no training in using its tools and techniques, or their last exposure to the methodology was so long ago that they don’t remember much of it. A methodology shared across functional areas, with targeted instruction and routine refreshers, ensures everyone can hit the ground running.