In a work-from-home world, the need for training can sometimes take a back seat to other matters that seem more pressing. But project managers (PMs) and their teams must continually maintain awareness about longer-term issues, and ongoing education is one of those critical elements that can make or break your organization’s overall project management strategy….
project management training
Issues that are of immediate importance consume much of a PM’s time. This is especially true when the schedule is busy with active projects and additional initiatives are waiting in the wings to launch. Near-term problems such as schedule delays and funding concerns are just a few of the items vying for attention. As a…
It isn’t uncommon to encounter challenges during a project. Teams may lose a key member, putting additional work on everyone else, or a critical material might suddenly become unavailable. These problems are relatively routine and most PMs have the experience and resources to deal with the issues without derailing their project’s progress.
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.
Several factors can create challenges for manufacturing project teams. For example, among the many concerns for PMs today are unexpected supply chain issues related to ramping up after a prolonged downturn. It can be tremendously difficult to juggle increased manufacturing needs—often with time pressures as primary drivers—against potentially decreased bandwidth across suppliers and producers.
Managing The Impacts of Testing and QC on Manufacturing Projects| PMAlliance Project Management Blog
Testing and QC programs are a useful and necessary part of the manufacturing sector, but PMs need to be ready to address the significant impacts these activities can have on projects that are already in progress. Once the results of a testing or QC program are released, the effects on the project can range from delays in downstream activities to changes in the project’s scope. Successfully executing tasks in spite of these impacts—sticking to the target completion date and approved budget—can be tricky. But while juggling mid-project changes is often challenging, there are strategies organizations can use to ensure that testing and QC efforts don’t put the project’s success in jeopardy.
Conduct a thorough analysis of the variables during the initial planning phase. Activities such as testing and QC introduce a lot of unknowns into the mix, and the team can benefit tremendously from the input of a broader group of experts than might normally be involved in planning the project and defining its scope and timeframe.
Gaining cooperation across disparate sub-groups is sometimes a difficult task for project managers. Even when everyone agrees they’re on the same page and working toward the same goals, it’s not uncommon to discover that communication channels between the groups are weak and collaboration is lacking. Some departments may have a tough time fully engaging with the effort. Others might try to push their opinions and preferences to the forefront. Participation in meetings and brainstorming sessions is often hit or miss.
In addition to the challenges project managers commonly face, initiatives that revolve around technology—upgrades, expansions, system replacements, etc.—bring their own unique obstacles. These can be especially difficult to navigate when you’re trying to execute a technology-related project in a non-technology organization. If a project that’s heavy on technology is on the horizon for your team, consider where roadblocks are likely to exist and the strategies that can help you overcome them.
Complex projects often have more than one critical path, and in order for the project to reach a successful completion, each of these paths must be carefully managed. Even if the primary path is achieved, a lack of progress on any of the follow-on paths could doom the project to failure in the long run.
Teams that execute these challenging projects need to be mindful of what it takes to manage multiple layers of requirements and actions. A strong awareness of all the paths that make up a project is critical if the Project Team wants to ensure that nothing falls behind schedule or drops off the radar.
If your center of excellence is facing a can’t-fail project with multiple paths, it’s important to understand the risks that exists and where opportunities for success can be found.
The risks behind multiple critical paths
One risk often encountered when executing projects with more than one critical path is the potential for tasks outside the primary path to be neglected. It’s easy for the project team and executives to be so focused on the primary critical path that other important issues outside of that narrow scope go unnoticed. Without a course correction, this fixation can cause the additional paths to become critical as well. Milestones might be missed or, as schedule adjustments are made to reflect the project’s progress against the target completion date, activities outside the primary critical path may not be properly re-sequenced.
If activities in one path begin to slip, it will eventually trigger problems for the team and could cause considerable grief to the project. The organization may need to spend more time or money to get progress back on track than was originally estimated. Not only could the project’s completion date be in jeopardy as a result, but the Project Team may also go over budget trying to set things right.
The other common risk arises when any of the secondary or tertiary paths overtakes the primary critical path in importance. Occurring most often as a result of failing to adequately attend to follow-on paths, one of these lower-priority paths could suddenly become the most important path when the team realizes they’re dangerously behind schedule or not prepared to execute activities as needed. The primary critical path is then at risk of also falling behind.
Tips to successfully manage multiple critical paths
Driving these complex efforts to a successful completion requires a cohesive methodology that delivers the necessary insight, while also providing the tools to act quickly and effectively.
Robust project controls are a vital component when managing multiple critical paths. The right project management methodology will enable the team to identify problem areas early. With insight into the project’s progress and a knowledge of potential challenges lurking on the horizon, the Project Team will be able to maintain sufficient awareness of not only the primary critical path, but also all everything that follows behind it.
Communication is another key to sustaining the right level of connection across all of the important paths that are part of the project. Information sharing should be a focus as the Project Team works to balance the needs of the critical path alongside those of the secondary and tertiary paths. Data must flow from the project team up to the executives to ensure everyone is aware of progress and issues. It will also need to be channeled from the leadership group down to the center of excellence. This may be in the form of strategic direction that influences project decisions or activity scheduling, or input to help resolve problems so the project can move forward.
The ongoing uncertainty about Brexit—what its impacts will be in the marketplace and when those effects will be felt—has many companies considering where they may need to cut costs or reallocate their resources. As organizations try to navigate this changing landscape, solid project management expertise will continue to be a vital asset.