Back to Basics
It’s been two years of disruptions to the normal flow of operations and project management in the business sector.
So, welcome to the new normal! Organizations should be ready for anything and everything, but that doesn’t mean ignoring the basics of project management.
Rather, leadership can rely on best practices to help manage and navigate changes as they occur.
Looking back over the pandemic years, Boost Midwest found that organizations that shifted, pivoted, adapted and jumped on the opportunities that opened during the coronavirus pandemic survived, and even thrived.
It’s always important to keep new project management trends in sight, ensuring that your organization is following industry-confirmed best practices is critical.
“How they are used, formally or informally, or if they exist at all, have been found to be clear indicators of an organization’s ability to manage projects successfully,” notes the Project Management Institute (PMI), the professional association for project managers.
The fundamentals of project management remain true even if processes and methodologies change.
When we partner with companies during an Operations Audit — AIM methodology: Analyze, Innovate, and Manage — we stick to these 9 best practices.
1. Defined Life Cycle and Milestones.
There are four basic phases to a project’s life cycle:
Project managers should map and define the phases, deliverables, milestones and criteria for each team involved at the start of the project.
2. Stable Requirements and Scope.
Document the project’s requirements, objectives and scope, and then stabilize them early in the project life cycle. Keep in mind what exactly needs to be achieved, the goals and benefits, standards of performance, existing and potential constraints that could impact performance, risks, limits on cost and time, and how success will be measured.
3. Defined Organization, Systems, and Roles.
Define the roles of the project manager, functional managers and team members. Then, identify what each is accountable for. Here, communication and involving all teams are key and begins with the project and functional managers. If your organization does not include the functional manager role, then the project manager assumes those responsibilities, either handling them solo or designating them to the appropriate team leaders.
The two roles are defined as:
The project manager plans, organizes, staffs, evaluates, directs, controls, monitors and leads the project from start to finish.
The functional manager is all about the “how” and the “who” by providing policy, procedural guidance, team members with the needed skills, and a standard of technical excellence. This role also highlights for the PM where time and resources are being wasted during the project life cycle.
4. Quality Assurance.
“Quality means making and meeting agreed-to commitments with a constant eye for improvement,” according to PMI. So, the first step is to identify the standards and criteria for each phase of the project life cycle for both the product and the process.
5. Planned Commitments.
Solid project plans usually include best practices as required elements for the project, based on the organization’s current capabilities, not on a wish list of resources. Recommended for planned commitments for a project are:
Scope and mission.
Evaluation and control.
Risk and problems.
6. Tracking and Variance Allowance.
Many project managers use the exception process, monitoring for variances and issues that place the project at risk. Deviations from the project plan should be reported and resolved. A five-minute stand up meeting at the start of the day or week can help identify schedule slippage, cost overruns, new risks, existing problems, and other issues that need to be addressed.
7. Corrective Action Decisions.
Projects that have in place a clear procedure for corrective action are able to more quickly put a project back on track. Tradeoffs often are necessary, like increasing the project timeline or increasing costs to keep to the initial completion date. This falls on the project manager to manage tradeoffs for the best project outcome.
8. Escalation and Issue Management.
Creating an escalation procedure keeps the worst issues facing a project from being buried at the bottom. No one wants to bring bad news to the front of the table when s/he can focus on successful project elements. This formal process requires issues and problems to be first addressed by the lowest appropriate level. If the issue remains unresolved, then it rises to the next highest organizational level, and so on until the issue is closed.
9. Work Authorization and Change Control.
Project managers should ensure control over how work is authorized and change is approved. For configuration changes, the project manager acts as the communication center, ensuring that change requests are evaluated and timely decisions are made on how to handle the request. And, since changes will occur in nearly every project, a change notice log is essential to track and evaluate proposed changes based on the most recent project information.
Given the current state of business here and across the world, Boost Midwest recommends organizations build teams that are fast and responsive. And, if still using the traditional project management approach, this may be the right time to move into Agile project management. For a free consultation, contact Boost Midwest’s project management team of experts at boostmidwest.com.
Ready to learn more about how Boost Midwest can help you optimize your project management and operations? Schedule your free consultation call with us today using our Quick Schedule Link here.