Finding a neutral party in a project can be extraordinarily difficult. Every project stakeholder has their own list of wants, needs, and worries. The team is focused on getting everything done on time, end users want to know they haven’t been forgotten, department managers are concerned about meeting productivity goals and avoiding work disruptions, and the leadership group is keen to leverage the project’s end results to move their own strategic plans forward. Complicating matters is that these many voices don’t just represent their own competing priorities—any time stakeholders feel they have something to lose or gain, they may not put the project’s (and the organization’s) best interests first.
project management documentation tips
Face it, there’s always the possibility that your project will encounter a problem. A key vendor may be late in delivering a key piece of equipment, or your craft labor supplier may get tied up on another job, setting your activity timeline back unexpectedly. Achieving success in spite of the challenges isn’t so much about what sort of difficulties your team encounters—it’s about how you deal with those problems. Your response will either enable you to overcome the situation and continue driving the project to a timely completion, or it will cause you to fall behind, cut back on quality, or increase expenditures as you scramble to stay on track.
Your team may occasionally execute projects that will have unwelcome effects on an organization’s workforce. Most impacts are intended to be positive, such as workflow and machinery updates that improve safety for staff. But in other cases, employees may learn their jobs are scheduled for relocation or that their positions are being eliminated entirely.
A strong project management methodology needs to encompass more than developing a timeline and scheduling individual tasks. The effort must also include a risk management function with an eye toward where and how potential issues might impact the project.
Most project teams have a standard repertoire of projects they execute on a regular basis. With a few variations here and there, your routine may consistent mostly of developing new software or retooling manufacturing processes. But companies occasionally encounter firsts—bringing their debut product to market, for example, or adding a function they haven’t supported before.
When multiple sub-teams and cross-functional groups are working on the same project, there is a risk of disparate project plans popping up. These are typically fractured and incomplete, and they create all sorts of trouble for PMs and the organization’s leadership. One key to project success is avoiding this proliferation of different plans and schedules, particularly when executing large, complex, or high-visibility initiatives that are strategically important to the company.
With numerous stakeholders to support and ambitious corporate goals to achieve, project teams sometimes fall into the trap of over-committing themselves as they try to make everyone happy. Some agree to aggressive schedules in hopes they can shave time off along the way. Others begin projects with a too-lean budget expecting they will somehow keep expenditures below normal levels. In each case, the team usually ends up looking bad in the end, as the project’s target completion date encounters delays and requests for additional funds pile up.
In the early phases of project planning, there are many things the Project Team doesn’t know. But as the process gets underway, the team needs to make it their mission to ensure they get the information they need to understand where risks exist, to determine the most efficient and effective scope and timeline, and to make the best decisions as they move forward. If the data being used by the Project Team is incomplete or inaccurate, the project could go over budget or even fail to achieve its goals.
Every project is comprised of a number of individual tasks. Some tasks can and should be executed simultaneously, and at other times one task must be completed before the next activity can begin. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that can go wrong with these task chains, and the potential for problems grows along with the scope and complexity of the project. For example, the Project Team might not realize that one delayed task doesn’t just impact one other activity, it actually affects the execution plan for many other tasks that are scheduled to happen later in the project.
Information is one of the core pillars underpinning every successful project. With the evolution of technology and more compute power available than ever before, there’s little reason centers of excellence should continue to rely on data that may be days or even weeks old when it comes to identifying potential issues, forecasting activity schedules, making strategic decisions, and pouncing on opportunities in the marketplace.