Every project stems from an organization’s need to accomplish something—to increase production capacity, for example, or to reduce costs across a process or within a department. No matter the type of need that launched it, each effort is expected to return some kind of value back to the company.
The on-deck project. It’s there, waiting in the wings, ready to go as soon as your team wraps up its current efforts. You and your stakeholders are probably excited to get going on it. It may be a garden-variety project, or it could be a one-time, strategically important initiative that will catapult the company forward. Either way, if its start date hinges on completing other tasks, it’s in a precarious position, because if something—anything—goes wrong with your present schedule, that on-deck project will almost surely be bumped.
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.
Conducting ongoing checks of a project’s health is something teams should do on a regular basis, but surprisingly few actually do. If your organization is one of those that doesn’t already carry out routine monitoring, it’s an important skill that’s worth the effort to develop. A well-informed assessment gives project managers the level of awareness they need to proactively spot potential problems, deploy solutions, and monitor the results to ensure their fix was effective in bringing the project’s progress back on track.
Scope creep is a problem that plagues projects across the spectrum. Small or large, simple or complex, a project’s success can be threatened by stakeholders eager to add just one more activity to the list. If the team doesn’t know how to keep those parameters in check—or if they don’t have the tools to know when the approved scope is in jeopardy—they’ll have difficulty resisting requests to take on more than the project’s budget and target timeline can support. Failure often follows, as the Project Team’s resources are expended early and the schedule falls apart.
Fortunately, there are some strategies organizations can implement to help maintain order and eliminate ballooning project boundaries. These approaches will also aid in avoiding the related schedule delays and cost overruns, not to mention the strain on team members’ workloads.
The need to develop new processes should be an expected part of any facility startup project. Depending on the type of site that’s being launched, the organization may not have established protocols that address any number of functions—inventory management or materials receiving, for example. Or it’s possible that formal processes do exist within the company, but that they aren’t comprehensive enough to encompass all the activities that will occur in the new facility.
Ongoing education is a critical part of maintaining a Project Team’s base of skills and expertise. Using internal team members to train others in the group is often an attractive option—it doesn’t entail the typical hard costs associated with outside training and classes can be conducted with little advance planning. This takes good advantage of downtime while keeping everyone up to date on best practices. However, though the cost savings and flexibility may be tempting, there are some challenges that teams need to be mindful of if they want to get the most benefit out of their internal training opportunities.
Project managers essentially have two areas of focus when it comes to manpower support:
Knowing that they have enough of the right resources to execute the amount of work planned, ensuring they aren’t caught short-handed at a critical time.
Understanding when those resources are needed—and when they’re best used—so they don’t have expensive labor resources onsite without anything to do.
If the team isn’t adequately staffed with the right level of labor resources to complete the amount of work being scheduled, the activity durations will ultimately take longer. This often leads to some of the project’s scope being sacrificed toward the end of the project as the team runs out of time leading up to the target completion date.
It’s a premise that goes against everything many PMP®s hold near and dear. Conditioned to see each project as a unique set of challenges in need of highly-targeted solutions, it can be difficult for those in the Project Team to shift their thinking and instead view projects in more standardized terms. But it’s a fundamental…
Being a mentor is an enormously rewarding way to support and expand the project management profession. Nervous about jumping into the mentor role? Don’t be—use these tips to make the experience fluid and fun. Also check out: (GOING BEYOND MENTORING), (MENTORING MISTAKES SMART Project TeamS MAKE), (find-the-right-business-mentor) and (6 reasons-mentoring still matters)