The Secret Sauce to Delivering a Successful Project
by Greg Hernandez, Head of Operations
There are a ton of articles easily found evangelizing the keys to successful project management, they have good and fair points and I will touch on some of them below. However, if I were to boil it down to one crucial element that I believe is the secret sauce to delivering a successful project, it has to be a strong work ethic.
Project Management done well isn’t for slackers, it takes detailed organization, constant tuning, follow-ups, and adaptation. I’d love to implement some magical system, process, or methodology and then sit back and watch all the pieces flow together seamlessly, but I live in reality.
If work ethic is in place and you want a shortlist of what it takes, here’s what I can tell you:
I have a tendency to under-communicate in both my professional and personal lives. In my mind, I’m providing straightforward and logical plans, responses, and suggestions, but I’m well aware that isn’t what everyone is looking for and what is needed on a project. This is my biggest challenge, but I try to circumvent that by communicating as transparently as I can and regularly checking in with the team to make sure we are all on the same page.
Even though many schools of PM preach the classic Scope, Schedule, Budget triangle, there is much more involved to make things really tick. The Project Management Institute has always done a solid job at categorizing the stages of a project, I’m just going to order and call them something a bit different.
Preparation — getting the foundation in place before building the house
- Ask a ton of detailed questions
- Align on the goals
- Define the budget range before spending excessive time planning anything out
- Review and agree to the contractual details
- Set realistic expectations
Initiation — aligning on vision and defining the approach
- Plan out the details and agree on the plan with the stakeholders
- Create a high-level kick-off brief to get teams up to speed on the objectives, timeline and clearly define individual roles
Implementation — doing the actual work and tracking it
- Revisit the schedule regularly to make sure the team is aware of the expected current work and next steps
- Trust your team. Do not micromanage.
- Implement and utilize a PM tool to scrupulously manage everything related to the project
- You need a way to make it clear what are the tasks, assignments, deliverables, milestones and keep everyone accountable
- Handling this in individual documents can work, but having a system that can display the details in multiple views (i.e. Task List, Kanban Board, Gantt Chart, Calendar, etc.) is a huge efficiency gain
Post-Project Synopsis — transparently reviewing the challenges and ideating on future improvements
- A post-project (also known as a post-mortem) review is a great way to collect team feedback on how the project was run, discuss overall project success, and determine how to improve upon efforts in the future
- Make it an open and honest forum so that everyone participates and provides constructive feedback, take notes and reference it before starting the next project
At the end of the day, challenges are part of the game and we all make mistakes, which is why adaptability is key. Just remember to reflect as a team and figure out how you can improve next time.
If you are interested in learning more about how we manage projects at Gallardo Labs or what PM tools we use and love, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear from you.
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