The Harvard Business Review published an IBM study in 2004 which concluded that only 40% of all the projects surveyed were able to meet the forecasted budget and schedules. The study also revealed how one in every six IT projects experiences cost overruns by up to 200%. This is the main reason behind an increase in demand for experienced project managers.
Cost is not the only issue that can have a negative impact on projects. It has been estimated that around 34% of the companies fail to complete/deliver a project within the given schedule due to reasons such as limited resources, insufficient supplies, revisions by the client and risks due to lack of research.
Guaranteeing that the projects get completed seamlessly is the job of project manager. The following techniques, while simple, are sure to help you complete your projects within the given time and budget.
Prepare a Project Case and Define a Lifecycle
According to Geneca, ‘75% of all IT projects are doomed to fail from the beginning’. Breaking a project into separate milestones and setting short deadlines for each step can help in predicting many calculable risks and challenges. However, only one-third of all project management businesses actually prepare a detailed breakdown of the project, or a business case.
A business case is an official document that includes details about the project’s scope and challenges. This document is prepared before starting a project to ensure that the risks, costs and deadlines given in the initial contract are not compromised. Successful project management organisations have their own research and development departments, where researchers evaluate new projects thoroughly and prepare cases/reports.
This helps organisations to identify future risks and benefits of a project. Based on this document, managers create a project management life cycle which includes:
- Prioritisation of the most important tasks
- Individual timelines and deadlines for when the project must be complete
- Effective techniques and resources to complete the project
- Thorough starter plan for initiating the project
Additionally, the project management life cycle is based on four components including:
A detailed break-down of these activities is also included such as the start-up costs, resources, analysis and tools required for the project. Many project managers do not include post-project auditing in the checkout process, however it is necessary to ensure a positive project turnover and ROI.
KPMG New Zealand published a Project Management Survey in 2010, revealing that 60% of all project management businesses fail to measure a project’s ROI after completing it. This is a key element that simply can’t be overlooked. You need to be analysing how much money has been made, or possibly lost, from the project. If the ROI is high, then you know that what you are doing is working and you need to build on that. Alternatively, if it’s low, you know that something needs to be fixed immediately or your business is going to continue to lose money.
Budget and Time Management
An important team member may resign. Suppliers may go on strike. It may take longer to develop a specific program for completing the project than previously estimated. In project management, there is always a certain degree of risk due to unforeseeable circumstances. Regardless of the reasons, delays in project almost always cause time and cost overruns. This in turn has a negativeimpact on clients and ultimately, your brand image.
The way to avoid budget and time overruns in a project is to keep track of the tasks to be completed through lists. However, this can be very time consuming as you need to update all lists including those containing a breakdown of the roles, responsibilities, spending, profit, timeline, tasks, available tools and resources.
Lists can be particularly useful for devising new plans for completing the project on time and on budget. Recent technology such as project planning software is specially designed to update all such lists automatically as well as generate regular reports on costs and deadlines, mark tasks as completed/pending at the end of the day and prepare planning boards which can greatly assist you in all small and large aspects of planning and executing a project. Project planning software ensures that nothing gets missed when working on tasks and all employees and resource managers can get a clear insight into what’s going on.
This way, your work load is reduced and you can focus on other project activities to maximise ROI. Although the software will be an investment at first, it will quickly prove its worth and help you to complete tasks in better time and to a better standard, keeping your customers invested in your services.
Coordinate and Update the Roles and Responsibilities
Effective communication is the key to team coordination. You need to clearly define the various responsibilities and roles of your team members so as to ensure seamless coordination.
- Individual Level – Assign tasks and responsibilities individually, along with the deadlines.
- System Level – This is important to avoid repetitions. Assign the tasks in a systematic way, ensuring coordination amongst team members.
Besides coordinating the roles and responsibilities, it is also necessary to keep your team members informed about the risks involved in a project. If no risk assessment has been conducted and you don’t have a plan in place to deal with any issues that arise, then they’re going to get the better of you and the project will be greatly impacted as a result. A good practice is to conduct a meeting with employees before work begins on the project. Go over the project in detail and have everyone think of all of the risks involved and how they can be avoided/overcome. If time is short, send out a quick group email highlighting the risks and ask for feedback.
This can also be done by dividing tasks into categories, such as complete, incomplete and in-process, and update the roles accordingly. Setting task reminders at System Level can also be useful in ensuringthat no deadlines are missed. Updating the tasks and roles can make it easier for you to complete project within schedule.
A clear and well-defined plan for a project is crucial for ensuring seamless completion. Regular research and updates are also necessary for managing your projects effectively.
If you want to ensure all projects get completed seamlessly, follow the above advice closely and plan and prepare in advance as much as you can.