Depending on the organization and the project, some project managers have a lot of input in how they plan and execute the project. There are often key decision points and planning inputs that can make a big difference in the end result of a long project engagement And the information that we – as project managers – gather and the decisions and choices we make, definitely can serve to increase – or decrease – the overall likelihood of our project and team’s success in the end.
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What are some of these choices and decision points? I’m sure the list can go on and on, and I welcome input from our readers, but for me it’s mainly these four key areas:
Thoroughly reviewing the statement of work and identifying the right skill set for each key project team member resource is extremely important for the overall success of the project. Requesting too many resources or too high of a skill set will result in higher resource costs on the project. Requesting lower skill levels that are inadequate for the tasks can result in poor project team performance. Neither is good for the project as one is a budget concern and the other is a quality concern.
2. Involving the customer in the right tasks
Full customer engagement can often be a challenge. Most project tasks will be assigned to delivery team members. But the wise project manager assigns several ongoing tasks to the project sponsor and his team to keep them engaged on the project and keep them accountable. Making them do actual project work means less micro management by the customer. Keeping the project client busy with project tasks keeps them in close communication with you, helps ensure that they regularly attended the weekly status meetings, and also can mean they are more available to you throughout the project engagement for those times when you need to reach out for a key piece of information or input on a decision that can’t wait.
3. Scaling the deliverables
Small projects don’t necessarily need every plan and document created. And even if you choose to create versions of every project planning deliverable ever conceived or if your customer requests them, they won’t need to be 75 pages for a 3-month project. Use the project budget wisely and look for places where deliverables can be scaled while still providing the necessary quality to the customer.
4. Proper risk management
Every project – big and small – needs risk management. Upfront risk planning and identification and ongoing risk monitoring, mitigation and avoidance should be practiced…no matter what. The project manager and team who choose to ignore this critical practice are setting their project up for failure.
We can’t guarantee project success…but we can routinely make good choices for our project. And they are really the same fundamental choices on every project no matter the size, budget, duration or complexity. Good choices and good decisions on how we manage our projects are all just part of basic project management best practices.