As we celebrate another Thanksgiving, I thought I would talk about the things I’m thankful for when I turn in a successful project.
Every project starts with a project sponsor wanting something. The sponsor is (supposed to be) the driver of the project and the champion for it to/for the business. They are paying the bills and making the decisions around the scope of the project. Having an active and engaged sponsor is vital to your project’s success. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen sponsors get saddled with an initiative and then pass it off to the project manager, never to be heard from again. Without an active sponsor on your project, you as the project manager have nowhere to turn to when your project needs decisions made that can affect your project (scope, schedule, budget). Having a strong, engaged sponsor is a key element to driving your project over the finish line successfully.
There is nothing worse than managing a project with an unclear scope statement. The scope of the project is critical to defining where your finish line is. Without a clear understanding of the scope of the project it can lead to disagreements over what is to be delivered, how the project will be delivered and what is an agreeable definition of ‘done’. Clear scope goes hand in hand with engaged sponsorship but it also requires a keen eye and proper change management processes. Anything that does not fall into the agreed scope of the project needs to be routed through the defined change management processes.
As with any successful project, communications is the cornerstone. From the outset of the project there needs to be a defined list of stakeholders, their roles and responsibilities as well as what types of communications will go to what stakeholders. Often times there will be a communications matrix developed (I’ll write about putting one of these together in a future post) that will outline the types of formal communications the project will have, who will receive them and at what frequency (ex. Weekly status reports to senior management). In addition to the formal communications plan there also needs to be transparent and ongoing communication between all project team members. Everyone should know what is going on with the project beyond their own specific niche. It’s the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that these communications are happening.
A High-Performing Team
Lastly, a successful project manager is thankful for their high-performing team. Building a high-performing team isn’t a difficult task however you need the right ingredients: a good attitude, a dash (or more) of experience, the right support structures and effective leadership. High-performing teams are often occur organically and can achieve great things in full stride. As a project manager you can do this by putting the right conditions in place for your team to grow and come together to become that ‘A-team’ that will bring your project home successfully.
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