When Project Managers plan implementations, they often do not adequately anticipate failure despite the risks associated with any project. Rather, they plan for the best case scenarios driven by the budget, deliverables, sponsor expectations and deadlines. And despite their best efforts at project management, failure rates remain high.
Project implementations can fail for a number of reasons — ranging from unrealistic expectations, poor methodology, poor requirements, inadequate resources, poor project management, untrained teams, unrealistic budgets, to poor communication and more. With such a long list of factors that can lead to failure, the chances of project implementation success seems low. Those chances can be improved by adopting these 5 best practices. These will help establish a clear understanding of expectations among all the stakeholders—be they business, sponsor, project team, to vendor partners and end users.
- Business and organizational issues need to be identified and analyzed with clarity and without emotion. This process needs to be continued throughout the implementation process. There should be no barriers either between the business & development team or with third-party vendors. All stakeholder interests should be aligned with the common goal of project success.
- Don’t set overly aggressive or optimistic schedules. Project Managers often set overly optimistic deployment dates despite the realities and limitations of the actual project. For example, even when the design phase seeps into the development phase, the timeline doesn’t. Project progress must be monitored throughout the implementation. Discussions regarding key project dates should start early in the project’s life cycle to avoid downstream impacts.
- If continuous monitoring & control is not done, what appears “green” may turn out to be “red”. Real time monitoring and analysis of the project implementation’s progress can help identify the risk triggers early on and indicate endangered work packages. Indicators should not only display the past phase performance but should also indicate readiness for upcoming project tasks and activities. A project’s indicators and metrics should not only be markers of the past but also indicators of the future.
- Critical to maintaining control of the project, a Project Manager needs to set and manage the expectations of the project. Overly optimistic deployment dates, less than required resources, and more than possible deliverables should be a strict no-no. Similarly, there should be no scope for any “gold-plating”. Project Managers should set realistic expectations up-front and keep expectations current in the minds of all the stakeholders so that they don’t lose sight of the final product while going through the project life cycle.
- Audits and assessments conducted by an external auditor add value to the project implementation and protect it against failure. Such audits provide objective oversight and the solutions needed to overcome inherent roadblocks. It also helps alleviate your doubts & misgivings. These audits should be conducted by an implementation expert who has managed similar projects successfully and can easily identify indicators that can point to any errors and help develop possible solutions.
Employing these best practices will empower a Project Manager to go beyond regular project management barriers and provides them the processes they need to ensure project success. It helps them identify and resolve the strategic, tactical and intangible issues, and manage the human resources before issues become insurmountable. And best of all, it provides clarity and assurance that the project is on the right track.
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