Project Management Best Practices
Try googling ‘project management best practices,’ and you’ll be presented with thousands of results. Sifting through all those results is an exhausting prospect, right? And yet, data from the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession 2020 survey discovered that 11.4 percent of investment is wasted due to poor project management.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your skills and knowledge updated. And in the spirit of working together (beautifully), we want to make it easy for you. We’ve taken the best bits from all those search results and compiled them into the top seven project management best practices.
Incorporating these tips in your next project, will take your project management skills to the next level. So, let’s get started.
1. Develop a project brief
When it comes to project management, clarity is the key to success. Kick-start your project with a clear project brief that includes definitions of the following elements:
Scope and objectives
Use the project brief to get all stakeholders on board, including clients and the project team. A well-defined brief provides a sense of direction from the outset and ensures the team stays on track. Spending time on this critical first step now could save you major headaches further down the line.
2. Build a project plan
Once you have your project brief, you can flesh it out into a fully-fledged project plan. The project plan details all the steps needed to deliver the project on time and budget. Breaking the plan down into phases makes it easier to manage and maintain visibility. Make sure your project plan covers the following:
Roles and responsibilities of team members
Milestones such as key dates, deliverables, budgeting, tasks and personnel
Identify dependencies between tasks that need to happen in order.
When developing your project plan, be mindful of the workload of team members. Your project can lose valuable momentum if bottlenecks develop.
Don't forget to track or log time for your projects before you start. Here's an article about automatic time tracking to help you get started
3. Communicate clearly and consistently
Regular communication is the foundation of successful project management. Make sure internal communications take place through one platform. Instant messaging, especially when integrated into your project management software, is the preferred choice for many. Immediate and direct, team chat is an excellent platform for resolving issues or queries and supports faster decision-making.
Whatever platform you use, establish and maintain clear communication channels so all stakeholders, including clients, are kept informed and updated.
And when it comes to camaraderie and a shared sense of purpose, there’s no substitute for face-to-face communications — even if those faces might be a little pixelated for the foreseeable future. Set up regular project meetings (in person or via video calls) to review progress, boost transparency, and enhance accountability.
4. Manage variances and take corrective action
As the project progresses, issues will inevitably arise, requiring adjustments to timelines, budgets, or task management. It’s vital to tackle these variances head-on. Allowing them to slide could release a domino effect that impacts on the project’s success.
Track variances within the team. That way the team develops an understanding of why things are not going to plan, so you can stop them from happening again. Then, take whatever corrective action is necessary. For example, if the project is tracking to be over budget, you may need to review the scope. And if the project is taking longer than anticipated, you might need to bring in more resources or reconsider your delivery timeline.
Failing to take early, decisive action to deal with variances is often the reason why projects fail.
5. Manage risk
Every project involves managing risk. Risks are events that could harm your project. When you’re planning your project at the outset, take the time to identify all the things that could go wrong and then consider the potential damage, so you can understand which risks are the most important to avoid. If possible, you’ll want to try to avoid all risks, of course — or at least lessen their impact.
Be vigilant to risks throughout the project’s lifecycle as they can crop up at any time.
6. Keep a check on scope creep
One of the risks to consider is scope creep. Your project may have had clear boundaries at the start, but those boundaries can become quite fluid once you get into the execution phase. Before you know it, the project scope has expanded. And the danger is that your budget, timeline, or deliverables could be affected.
Make sure clients and stakeholders understand the implications of making changes. And if the scope must change, then update the plan and let everyone know.
7. Hold a sign-off meeting
In the excitement of getting the project over the line, this final step is often overlooked. However, it’s important to debrief after each project to reflect on successes and setbacks. Once the project’s completed, share any project management lessons learned or insights on how to improve with colleagues, so you can all learn from the experience.
Deliver project best practice every time
Successful project management can be challenging. However, these project management best practices will ensure the best chances of success.
And if you want to guarantee success, sign up for a free 30-day trial of Teamwork. Our all-in-one project management software allows you to easily manage your projects from start to finish.