How to Leverage Project Management to Improve the Bottom-Line of Your Organization
The IT industry has gone through some major paradigm shifts in the last decade. Globalization-at-scale has pushed the capacities of data management. Because of this surging capacity demand, having an effective project management strategy is vital for an organization.
Every IT organization undertakes several temporary endeavors known as projects to deliver a unique product or service to the clients.
While these projects can differ in scope and size, the basic principles remain the same—a wide range of interrelated tasks need to be completed while utilizing the resources optimally.
How do you describe project management?
Project management is a process that works in several steps. Let’s take a look at the steps that project managers follow in order to achieve an organization’s goals:
Since we are focusing on the IT industry, here are a few project oversight activities that are conducted in IT organizations:
- Hardware Development
- Software Development
- Cloud Computing
- Business Management
- Network Upgrades
- Data Management
These are some of the project management related activities conducted across different IT companies around the world.
But why do a large number of IT projects fail?
If experts are to be believed, poor project management skills are the primary reason for most of the IT projects getting canceled before they are completed.
Wrong estimation, lack of clarity and ambiguous objectives are a bad combination that can have a negative impact on your project management efforts.
Project management is important!
Do you underestimate the impact of efficient project management on your projects? Think again! Project management is not a walk in the park, instead, it is a complex process.
You need to have a team of skilled people who have the abilities that complement the work and can help in the fulfillment of a project’s objectives.
A good project manager knows that each project will have a project life cycle and that a series of steps need to be followed for the successful completion from start to finish.
Project management is definitely a tough skill to master but it is worth investing your time.
Want to know what benefits you can get from project management?
Let’s take a look:
- Project Planning: Maps out a clear plan for the project from inception to completion
- Process Scheduling: Creates a schedule that eliminates delays and overruns in a project
- Improves Teamwork: Promotes teamwork, builds synergy and inspires all teams to collaborate
- Resource Utilization: Tracks the expenses and resources and utilizes them efficiently
- Manage Integrations: Allows projects to be integrated with business processes and systems
- Cost Mitigation: Reduces the risk of over-running the prescribed budget and controls spending
- Quality Assurance: Helps in identifying, managing, and controlling the quality of the projects delivered
- Learning Opportunities: Analyses successes and failures and allows you to apply the knowledge in future projects
Now that you have an idea about how project management can help your organization achieve your goals, we can go a step ahead and see what all it can do to help you manage a software project.
Every organization wants to have a structured mechanism to manage its projects and people on a regular basis while keeping the costs low.
Project management is no longer restricted to sheets of paper or a couple of excel sheets. Project managers should be well versed with technologies the organization works with and perform a wide range of essential functions.
Here is a list of tasks that they must perform effectively to manage a software development project:
- Create A Project Management Plan: It will allow them to keep a track of previous records and create a plan free from the errors in the past projects.
- Track the Progress: They need to be on top of the time required to complete the project, terms that need to be followed and costs incurred throughout the process.
- Manage Time: They need to keep all the contributors on-board and inform them about the timeline within which the tasks need to be completed.
- Allocate Budget: Project managers should be aware of all the costs in real time and should have weekly progress reports or how resources are allocated.
- Communicate & Collaborate: Project managers are the points of contact in a project for both clients and team members and should always communicate any changes or additions in the projects to all parties involved.
- Documentation: Another important part of their job is to have all the information well-documented and stored securely for future reference.
- Better Decision Making:With all the data and reports that project managers create, it becomes easier for the management to take decisions for ongoing as well as future projects.
- Mitigate Risks: Project managers identify the potential risks, quantify them and create a contingency plan to combat the risks, should they surface.
In a broad sense, project managers make sure that all the concerned parties in the project come out victorious.
In order to conduct the aforementioned activities, project managers must possess a specific set of skills and attributes. A good project manager should have the ability to:
- Apply a management approach based on the project requirement
- Establish a strong working relationship with the different members of the project
- Lead, motivate and manage the teams involved
- Develop a concrete plan and continue to work on it throughout different stages
- Apply risk management processes
- Develop subject-specific knowledge in order to cope up with the changing circumstances
- Plan and manage both financial and human resources to achieve project milestones
- Build and maintain a functional communication channel for all roles involved in the process
- Ensure that quality delivery is a priority
- Well-trained in project management techniques and processes
With skilled project managers on-board, you will be able to implement and follow industry-best practices, take proactive decisions and manage any project efficiently.
Want to know more about project management best practices?
Let’s take a look at some prominent ones and understand what they can do for you:
1. Start with the ’why’: Emphasize on the purpose of the project when defining it to the teams involved. A purpose-driven team is more satisfied, delivers better products and keeps the clients happy.
2. Create a well-defined project lifecycle: To complete a project in a timely manner, you need to have a clear project lifecycle, precise milestones, and a set completion criterion. These factors will guide the teams all the way, right from the planning stage to the completion stage.
3. Create an outline to analyze the project scope: A well-defined project scope is an effective way to have clear success criteria. Each team should know what is expected of them and should have a defined timeline. Slow progress can lead to a team going off-course and thus, defining a timeline will help keep the project on track at all times.
4. Create a response team for potential risks: Things often go wrong and the potential risks should be accounted for in a well-defined risk management plan. The team should have the necessary training and experience to deal with worst-case scenarios and should always have a backup plan if things go wrong.
5. Establish a quality assurance process: It is a good idea to have a quality assurance team behind your developers. It should be present from the initial stages of the project and problems should be corrected as and when they show up.
6. Maintain transparency in your project: Make your project’s data more open. If an individual working on the project is able to associate their work with the entirety of the project instead of just specific milestones, they will have a greater sense of responsibility and feel empowered. This is also a good way to enhance teamwork.
7. Address Variances: Despite careful planning, a project will require some adjustments in the timeline. Project managers must know the reason behind it and take the necessary actions to avoid the same in the future.
8. Find corrective action procedures: Once the variances have been identified, the team should find corrective measures and find out the trade-offs that need to be made. Also, they need to assess the roadblocks that all the teams can come up against and have potential remedies in place.
9. Create a proper escalation process: There has to be a proper process to escalate the issues during the project. With a structured escalation process, there won’t be a gap in communication and the issues will be resolved before they become bigger. Project managers must put up an escalation plan and share it with all the members involved before they face a problem.
10. Understand change management: Changes are a normal part of any project. Being proactive about change management helps everyone to stay on the same page and ensures that the project remains on a path to success.
11. Practice empathy: Empathizing with clients, members of the project and end users is an effective way to deal with any potential issues. Project managers that understand their client’s perspective can derive the best results. Empathy helps you get a clear idea about how the project affects the customers, clients, and all the stakeholders.
12. Use Scrum framework: Scrum is an agile framework that can be used to manage knowledge framework. It is primarily focused on software development and works well for a team of 3-9 members. Their work is divided into several actions that are completed within stipulated timelines known as sprints. You can read more about the Scrum framework here.
To Wrap Up
Project management can be a daunting task but at the same time, it can be leveraged to improve the bottom-line of an organization. A structured plan and streamlined processes can resolve any issues seamlessly.
Having clearly defined objectives and milestones will ensure that a project doesn’t fail and reaches a fruitful completion.
With the aforementioned best practices, a project management team can improve their processes and boost the efficiency of their teams.
Don’t hesitate to hire some qualified project managers who can follow these best practices. Project management is expected to attain a significant boost in the near future and it is the right time to invest in an in-house project management team.
Manage complex information, develop an effective project management system and complete the projects successfully without any chaotic interruptions.