Between hectic schedules, stakeholder requests, and the competing priorities that surface when juggling multiple initiatives, it can be difficult to keep track of everything that goes on within the project team. PMs need to maintain awareness of progress, budget status, and potential schedule deviations, ensuring tasks don’t fall through the cracks and that everyone knows what needs to be done.
But what about those other facets of project planning and execution that must also be managed? Higher-level concerns, such as strategic value and effective scope management, aren’t easily captured on a schedule or a spreadsheet, making them easy to forget.
With the support of an experienced project management consultant behind them—coupled with a solid methodology and time-tested technology tools—PMs can be on the lookout for these three must-do things that project teams sometimes forget as they dive into their daily routines and their schedules get busy.
Linking the Project’s Benefits to the Organization’s Strategic Mission
Projects begin as an idea about how to achieve the company’s goals. Deliverables may be focused on
implementing new technologies, developing more efficient workflows, minimizing waste, or any number of operational improvements. As the planning phase gains steam and the team weighs what the project will and won’t accomplish—often bounded by time and budget constraints—stakeholders sometimes shift the target away from the company’s strategic direction. They might want to pursue a professional agenda that’s tangential to the corporate mission, or they may try to boost their reputation by packing every possible goal inside the project’s scope.
PMs must push back on this tendency whenever it crosses their radar. Every project is expected to
deliver value to the organization and a strong alignment with the strategic mission is vital to making that happen. The team should also keep the firm’s vision and direction in mind so they can execute their tasks with an eye toward quality and purpose.
Focusing on the Project’s Benefits During the Execution Phase
Even when an initiative is in sync with the broader strategic mission, the team may lose once they
become entrenched in carrying out their individual tasks. One example where problems could show up is the mid-project risk assessment. Without attention given to the benefits the project is intended to deliver, it’s possible the team could incorrectly calculate potential risks or overlook downstream issues.
Ongoing awareness of the project’s critical path is an important component in maintaining visibility into the effort’s expected benefits. By closely monitoring progress against the critical path, PMs can ensure the right benefits are delivered and stakeholders’ expectations are met.
Preventing Your Punch List from Becoming a Dumping Ground
The pace of project management can be nearly overwhelming if the team hasn’t kept a good handle on the current status or isn’t well versed in dynamically updating the schedule to accommodate progress reports coming in from the field. One of the easiest solutions teams sometimes fall back on is to shift new requests, the resolutions to low-priority problems, and other things that don’t fit well anywhere else onto the punch list. However, the project’s punch list isn’t supposed to be a catch-all for those things that aren’t convenient—either to do or to work through—during the execution phase.
A partnership with an experienced facilitator will enable your team to sort out tricky or sensitive issues with stakeholders mid-project. This will help eliminate loose ends that must be tackled before the initiative can be considered complete. A vigorous defense of the project’s parameters is also important in keeping scope creep from turning your punch list into a whole new set of tasks.
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