Project management is all about great communication, organisation and understanding just what it takes to keep multiple stakeholders happy. At one time or another we’ve all fallen victim to the brunt of projects that don’t run smoothly, the missed deadlines and their escalating costs. At Maratopia we’ve established a framework for project management that successfully side-lines these common problems. Here are our top 5 principles for perfect project management:
1.) Build the foundations right – never skimp on project specification
One of the most common issues with digital project management is failing to initiate the scope of a project. By spending time with the customer to agree upon requirements, expectations can be set, creating the perfect foundation for project specification. Far too many agencies are tempted to start work as quickly as they can, but a poor initiation stage often leads to problems and even the failure of a web development. The solution: Don’t start the project until it has a proper project specification which both the agency and the client are happy with. The reality is that a poor specification document extends projects by causing additional work, errors and oversights – the real danger when it comes to ‘more haste, less speed’.
2.) It’s good to talk
Communication is something that is frequently paid lip service to, but it is just as frequently ignored. As Edward Deming said – ‘it’s not enough to work hard – you must first know what to do, and THEN work hard.’ Without committing to communicating fully with the customer to uncover their real expectations, the project will suffer from missteps. The solution: Maintaining open, regular and accurate channels of communication with all levels of project staff and stakeholders is vital to ensuring the smooth flow of information and the sufficient warning of risks and changes to the project. That means prioritising discussion on the same level as ‘work’.
3.) Manage expectations and measure success
When a project is carried out successfully, it can be tempting to add in more requirements, leading to ‘scope creep’. Excellent project management means accommodating new requests where appropriate, but not over-promising or drifting from the rigour required to deliver on time and with high quality. The solution: It’s a project manager’s role to manage expectations to a sensible level. One way to do this is to break down projects into smaller chunks or phases with frequent milestones. Doing so will assist in managing expectations by making regular deliveries, with customers having the ability to see what they’re getting. This approach ensures the project delivers on customer expectation by giving them early visibility of what you’re building – a must in the digital world.
4.) Process is important. So is strategic flexibility
While you may think of your project plan as a bible, informing you on what needs to be done, by which team member and when, this can result in the project being rigid and slows progress down unnecessarily. The solution: It’s important to be pragmatic and listen to new information and suggestions that arise during the project build. It’s beneficial for everyone involved to step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far and how you can improve your future work based on what’s already changed along the way.
5.) Customer is king
Project teams can get caught up in their own world of internal deliverables, deadlines and processes. In consequence, the customer can end up losing out on the opportunity to provide added input during critical phases of the project. The solution: Discuss and provide regular updates to all project participants, make sure they are always informed on the status of the project. Invite (and encourage) stakeholders, customers, end-users and others to periodic status briefings, and provide an update to those that did not attend. So there you have it, the top 5 project management principles to adopt for pragmatic and effective digital project management!