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How to Improve your Project Management Best Practices

Even the best laid out plan does not guarantee success. However, you can improve your project management best practices to help you more often than not achieve your goals. Organizations are always changing and evolving to be competitive and to meet the needs of their market.

To support change, sometimes the best practices you have in place require revisions to be aligned with the business. Here are some suggestions on improving your project management best practices list:

Clear Requirements and Well-Defined Scope

Project managers repeatedly hear the importance of having a clear set of requirements and a well-defined scope. It is foundational, and now and then, you will be challenged on the completeness of the requirements and scope.

To circumvent this issue, in the initiation phase, do you have the following as part of your management practices:

  • A clear and well-defined scope

  • A consistent intake process for requirements

  • Engagement from sponsors and stakeholders

  • A formalized approach to scope and requirements management

  • A schedule with milestones for deliverables

  • A change management process in place, ensuring there is a clear understanding with sponsors and stakeholders of the additional cost and the impact it has on the delivery.

Defined Roles and Responsibilities

Defined roles and responsibilities need to be formalized before the kickoff. It sets the expectations from the onset. The Responsibility Matrix or RACI Chart (Responsibility, Accountable, Consulted, or Informed) identifies all the internal and external roles. It serves as the foundation of the Communications Plan and forms part of the Project Charter.

Detailed Project Plan

A comprehensive plan is an essential element for a successful project. It keeps the team focused and captures all the components, including:

  • Scope

  • Requirements

  • Risk

  • Communications

  • Schedule

  • Finances

  • Resources

  • Quality

  • Stakeholders

  • Change Management

  • Schedule

Effective project management requires a tool to support your plan and simplify your processes.

Selecting the right project management software will increase your efficiency and productivity, as well as provide a means to share relevant information to sponsors and stakeholders. Do you have readily available templates? The right tool will help you plan, execute, monitor, and control the activities in your project.

Identify Risk and Mitigation Plan

At the start of your project, some time is invested in identifying your risks and developing a mitigation plan. As the project progresses, you also need to establish a process to monitor your risks. The organization is constantly evolving, so what may have been identified as low risk may be impacted and become a medium or high risk.

Depending on the type of risk, the organization may not have a policy or procedure in place to manage it. You will need to work with impacted shareholders and sponsors to create a mitigation plan.

Risk management will be an ongoing effort throughout your project. Additional risks can be identified. Ensure you have a plan in place to communicate changes to the identified or upcoming risks.

Software project management offers some unique challenges with its ever-changing technology. For example, you could be faced with hardware changes, software upgrades, smartphone apps, and the integration of all these technologies. You may need to manage incompatible technologies, end of life technology or technology limitations. Anyone of these can be detrimental to a project.

Effective project management requires the involvement of stakeholders every step of the way to assess the risk and develop strategies to minimize the impact on the business. Your mitigation plan needs to include:

  • Early and frequent evaluations

  • Involvement of stakeholders

  • Strategy approvals from stakeholders

Communications

Communication is a crucial component. You’re responsible for the flow of information and keeping stakeholders on the same page of project activities.

Poor communications can result in not obtaining stakeholder support or buy-in or misunderstandings in expectations impacting your deliverables and cause delays.

There are some key elements to have in place, such as:

  • A RACI chart – this identifies the stakeholders and how they should be informed.

  • Central location for information – this can be a collaborative tool

  • Regular status reports – these can be distributed by email or available within a collaborative tool

Monitor and Implement Project Controls

The team may already have a set of tools in place to monitor and control the project.

  • Project plan – it is a basic form of control and framework for delivering on each task.

  • Standard tools and templates – establishing a standard set of tools and templates facilitates communications and makes analysis a little easier.

  • Documentation – Formal documentation processes are another method to enforce control, such as capturing meeting minutes. Itemizing what was agreed to in the discussion can help prevent misunderstandings and miscommunication.

  • Software projects test the solution against test cases that reflect the user experience or expected behaviour of the application.

Capturing Lessons Learned/Retrospective

There are various methodologies you can adopt for your project. Lessons learned are gathered at the end of a project, or if your team works in a Scrum environment, you will perform a retrospective at the end of each sprint.

Regardless of the methodology you follow, the feedback you gather needs to be incorporated back into your processes. The feedback either confirms what is working well or requires adjustments for the next project or sprint.

Project management software supports capturing this information and storing it in a central location to share with the team.

Summing It Up

Consistently review your project management practices to see if you are lacking in your processes and take action to improve them. Continuous improvements ensure you have the project management best practices in place to achieve global excellence.

Solid project management best practices provide a foundation for the team to work effectively and efficiently towards success. Tools like Kanbanchi can help support your team’s needs and provides a visual of their collaborative efforts. You can then build on that foundation to continuously improve your best practices.

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