What are the best practices in Project Management? What is effective Project Management? These questions asked by many peoples to me. Let me try to go in deep to share you what I learned and implemented successfully in last 18+ years working with many corporations in Business Technology. Let’s learn together 21 Project Management Best Practices and Success Tips.
Effective Project Management process always is the key enabler for the Business to succeed. Many peoples asked to me what are the key elements of successful project management? The aim must be to provide simple processes to Project Managers to produce predictable results and create value-added outcomes. Now the question is what are project management methodologies? Multiple methodologies of Project Management introduced like Agile, Traditional, Waterfall, Adaptive, Critical Path, PERT, Rational Unified Process, Critical chain and so on. But let’s talk about Best Practices not Methodologies.
- What is a Project and who is Project Manager?
- What is the Definition of Project Management?
- How Projects are connected to Programs & Portfolios?
- 1. Project Stages
- 2. Project Sponsorship & Leadership
- 3. Definition and Understanding of Business Objectives & Benefits
- 4. Project Planning
- 5. Manageable Project Size
- 6. Defining the Project Budget
- 7. Effectively Managing the Project Risk
- 8. Getting the Right Project Manager for Right Project
- 9. Importance of Getting Customer Representation
- 10. Clear Project Roles and Responsibilities
- 11. Allocation of Dedicated and Right Resources
- 12. Project Progress Monitoring and Reporting
- 13. Communicating Project progress regularly
- 14. Project Leadership and Consultations
- 15. Focused and Realistic User Requirements
- 16. Understanding and Defining Project Approach
- 17. Conducting Structured Testing and Acceptance (UAT)
- 18. Creating an Implementation Plan
- 19. Conducting a Post Implementation Review
- 20. Benefits Realization
- 21. Lesson Learned after Project Completion
- 22. BONUS – Celebrating the Project Success
What is a Project and who is Project Manager?
Let’s start with project. A Project is a coordinated set of tasks, which together create a defined new product, process, or service, within a constrained time and resource budget. A project manager is that circus performer who can keep juggling relationships with the many people involved in the project, whilst keeping many tasks spinning like plates. As a good project manager must be able to get things done, organize people and processes to succeed at influencing, motivating, and inspiring their teams.
What is the Definition of Project Management?
Project Management is the dynamic process that utilizes the appropriate resources of the organization in a controlled manager, to achieve some clearly defined objectives identified as a strategic needs to produce a new Project, Process or Service and always conducted within a defined set of constraints.
“A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.”The Project Management Institute (PMI)
How Projects are connected to Programs & Portfolios?
What are the differences between projects, programs, and portfolios? These are the differences to have a clear understanding of the value each of them bring to the organization.
PMI defines a program as “a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside of the scope of the discrete projects in the program.”
A program brings together several projects and often some operational work to achieve a larger goal for the organization. Programs are larger than projects with no specified end dates like to launch a new product line, create, and provide services to customers or to change business operations.
PMI defines a program as ” a collection of projects or programs and other work that are grouped together to facilitates effective management of that work to meet strategic objectives. The projects or programs of the portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or directly-related.”
Key difference between a program and a portfolio is that in a program all the work is in some way related, either by a common goal or by inter-dependencies. A portfolio on the hand, is larger and can include unrelated projects or programs like mitigating the organization risk, monitoring, and controlling the assignment of resources such as people, time, and money.
To deliver a successful project, you will find out in this article 21 best ways and valuable advice for making successful Project.
Projects go wrong for the same reasons all the time, no new sins. We can look at a project in its first two months and know if it will be a success or not. Many organizations are failing to heed painful lessons learned from past projects. The biggest sin in project management is not learning the lessons of past projects. When we learn to do this, we will cut the number of project failures. What follows is a practical guide to managing projects that will help steer you to a successful result.
1. Project Stages
What are the 5 phases of a project? Projects are started with small team of peoples in the first few weeks to define the document. During the Project Definition, Initiation and Planning stages, some questions should be answered. Projects are divided into stages or phases to help us manage them. PMI standard stages or phases are five but here projects are divided into six stages because we will discuss here about Project Definition also:
- Definition of the project
- Initialization of the project
- Planning of the project
- Execution of the project
- Monitoring & Controlling of the project
- Closure of the project
Each stages of the project have distinct set of activities. Between these stage boundaries, also known as stage gates, gates, or gateways. These are the review points to decide the go or no-go decisions following how the projects are performing and the value at the end we will get from our further investment. Projects from Idea to closure have equal importance and contributes for all stages and to the overall success of the project.
Before to start any project, Project Manager must make sure to align goals, objectives, scope, risks, issues, budget, timeline, and approach defined and communicated to all the stakeholders to get their agreement if any difference of opinions must be resolved before start the project work. Always focus on the project outcomes not to the activities to co-create the value for the project stakeholders.
This is the most important stage for any project. because this will set the terms of reference within which project will be run. If this will not be focused, project will have high probability of failure. In this stage, Business case is declared, scope will be decided, and expectation of stakeholders will be set.
Time spent on the planning, refining the business case, communicating the expected benefit will help to improve the probability of project success. Poor planning of initiation stage leads to major problems and project failure not delivering the true value of the project. Strong Business Case with stakeholder alignment to co-create value and benefit realization is the key for this stage and project success.
The key to a successful project is in the planning to establish the scope of the project, refine the objectives, and define the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve. You need to create a Project Plan is your first task to undertake any project. Many times, project planning ignored to getting started the work. Here many people failed to realize the value of project plan to save the time, money and avoid any coming problems and issues.
This process stage performed to complete the work defined in Project Management Plan to satisfy the project requirements. In this stage, we deliver the product or service or want to achieve the defined outcomes. Project Manager need to follow the complete attention here because most of the work related to project realized and to be completed.
5. Monitoring & Control
In this stage, you need to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project. Identify the areas where plan changes required and initiate the corresponding changes. Project Manager keep control in this important stage by regularly reporting the issues, risks, progress and constantly checking the business case and expected benefits that to be delivered and realized the value of the project.
This is the stage where we performed official closure of the project, phase, or contract. Many times, project managers neglected without understanding the importance to close the project properly. Because of this many projects don’t have clear end point without any formal sign-off by stakeholders. To end the project, it’s especially important customer or stakeholder agreement so that no work carried out.
Here project manager needs to review and record good and bad points, lessons learned to repeat the succus in future and avoid failures. If project will not be closed, will continue to consume the resources.
2. Project Sponsorship & Leadership
Before starting any project, you need to understand and make sure the importance of Project Sponsor and leadership team.
Follow Good Practices: Always define the Project sponsor in the Project Definition Document from the Highest possible level of the organization and a Steering Committee must be setup from the operational beginning of the project. All key decisions about the project, steering committee is responsible and should be composed of senior managers from the Business. Without project sponsor, project will be on higher risk always. He will give invaluable help to succus of the project to Project Manager.
What are the deliverables defining the project definition document, project manager is accountable to lead the projects to achieve these deliverables?
I learned these ways to give proper project leadership:
- Create the right atmosphere of trust
- Build the right teams
- Spell-Everything-out for your teams upfront
- Always monitor and giving feedbacks to teams
- Keep communication always open
- Always start to keep the end (outcomes) in mind
After the project manager, sponsor is the most influential person in the project, even derived the most influence on the projects results.
Avoid commons mistakes: Don’t wasting the time and money on projects where not enough sponsorship, commitments, or leadership to succeed the project. Don’t estimate and hopping, you will find peoples commitments and time later. If you are not involving the sponsor to set the direction and keeping the project on track, can be biggest mistake.
3. Definition and Understanding of Business Objectives & Benefits
Follow Good Practices: To understand the definition of Business Objectives & Benefits, it should be documented early with formal sign-off by the Steering Committee. This document defines the objectives, goals, deliverables, benefits, exclusions, assumptions, business sponsors, responsibilities, estimated costs, timescale and serves the following purposes:
- What will be the clearly defined objectives and scope of the project?
- Providing common view and clear understanding to Management and Team Members.
- Provide good starting points for more detail’s documents such as Project Plan, Project Budget, and functional requirements specifications.
Best payoff for any project succus comes from having good project definitions early.
Avoid commons mistakes: Start focusing on the solution to achieve something with understanding the clear business requirements and objectives that you need to be achieved and identified business sponsors needed to help achieve these objectives. Not reviewing benefits statements during the project to make sure they are still valid and achievable.
4. Project Planning
Project Planning is especially important for any project to succeed. You need to develop detailed project plan to process further.
Follow Good Practices: Project Plan always should be signed by Steering Committee to realize the following benefits.
- Translates the high-level business objectives into a detailed roadmap with concrete deliverables.
- To manage and provide the detailed Resource requirements.
- Provide realistic assessment of Project time plan
- Allows to estimate project costs to be validated further if required.
- Identifies the early issues like tasks taking longer time, slippage in target dates, and productivity of team members.
Always involve team members not only management. Develop a plan in iterations over several weeks with consulting team members to get their experiences into the plan. Take the lessons from last projects.
Avoid commons mistakes: Working without Project Plan or having a wrong project plan. Wrong project plan is worse without having project plan. Not just show the sexy looking project plan to Steering Committee a warm and comfortable feeling.
Don’t lose sight of what the project is trying to achieve. Traditional project management techniques can encourage over planning with excessive focus on micro level tasks at the cost of overall objectives. Disbelieving evidence from the past projects with insisting the current project be done faster with fever peoples. Committing too, or baselining project plans too early. Don’t be too religious like 5 days projects doesn’t need a detailed project plan.
A good project plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week. Warning sign is when successive project milestones are missed, this is a sure sign of a project that is failing.
5. Manageable Project Size
Follow Good Practices: Project size is extremely important for succus of the project. Larger projects should be cut in manageable sizes or into sub-projects. Project planning methodologies already providing a useful tool to divide larger projects into manageable sub-projects following short term deliveries.
Each project plan should itself be sub divided into several key milestones. This helps to project delivery and makes sure progress is measured regularly. For example, a recent large project involved two separate project plans for various stages of the project, development, and implementation. Each plan consisted of around 200+ separate tasks and around 25 key milestones.
Avoid commons mistakes: Going for a ‘big bang’ implementation. Not being prepared to take the extra cost of splitting the project into separate stages. Underestimating the overall complexity and the interactions between all the separate components.
6. Defining the Project Budget
Follow Good Practices: Before starting the project, Project Cost / Budget Management is particularly important for any project. Define all the cost in the form of Project Budget, should be signed off by the steering committee or any other authority who can make sure the availability of budget for the project. Project budget should include all the required components with Internal and External costs like Consultancy, licenses, third party services, consumables and so on.
Let’s see some basic rules that can help to sure accurate and realistic budget is produced:
- Assume that people can only be productive for 80% of their time.
- When People working on multiple projects take longer to complete tasks because of time lost switching between them.
- Generally People are optimistic, and often underestimate how long tasks will take.
- Make use of other people’s experiences and your own when creating your project budget.
- Get an expert view and judgement.
- Include management time in any project estimate.
- Always important to build in contingency for meetings, problem solving, and other unexpected events.
- In a Work Breakdown Structure, use each cost task to arrive at a total, rather than trying to cost the whole project.
- Take Agreement on a tolerance with your customer for extra work that is not yet defined in the project scope.
- Communicate any assumptions, exclusions, or constraints you have to your customer.
- Always provide regular budget statements to your customer, copying your team, so they are always aware of the current position.
Avoid commons mistakes: Peoples have Lack of budget ownership. Providing funds on an ad-hoc basis. Major costs not clearly identified early on; this can result in the project being cancelled later because of lack of funds. Not having control or monitoring of actual spend against planned spend.
7. Effectively Managing the Project Risk
Projects Risk Management conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, response implementation, and monitoring risk on a project. The project risk management objectives are to increase the probability and/or impact of positive risks and to decrease the probability and/or impact of negative risks, to optimize the chances of project success.
Follow Good Practices: The task of the project manager is to identify the most severe risks and plan to minimize them. Throughout the project, you
should continue to focus on the major risks facing the project, which will change over time. This helps to keep the focus on the areas that need to be addressed. You have to consider using a risk mapping approach to manage the project risk:
• Identify the project objectives. • Prioritize the objectives. • Identify the key risks to missing those objectives. • Take preventive action. • Track and update risks monthly using a Risk Log Register.
There are four risk management techniques you may use to manage the risks to your project:
1. Avoidance: Use alternative approach that doesn’t have any risk, but this is always not possible. There are programs that deliberately involve elevated risk in the expectation of high gains. This shall be the most effective risk management technique, if it can be applied to avoid the risk.
2. Control: Controlling the risk involves developing a risk reduction plan and then tracking to that plan. A key aspect is the planning to be done experienced people. The plan itself may involve parallel development programs.
3. Assumptions: Simply accepting the risk and continuing. There can be a tendency within organizations to gradually let the assumption of risk take on the aura of controlled risk.
4. Risk Transfer: Means transfer the risk to other party to accept the risk. Generally used contract or hedging. Liability among construction or other contractors is often transferred this way.
Never have expectation to be perfect in initial stage for Risk Management Plan. It’s a project Lifecyle process to get experience what risk are being faced to allow different decisions to be made towards the project succus following the Risk Management Techniques.
Avoid commons mistakes: Reluctance to focus on risk. The Steering Committee never wanting to be presented with ‘threatening statements about failure of project and only wanting to hear good and constructive news. Waiting too long and taking a reactive approach while it should be proactive.
Pro Tip: To run away from risks is to miss the whole point. To make sure the project success, you need to take the right calculated risks and you need to be aware that, that is what you are doing.
8. Getting the Right Project Manager for Right Project
The project manager plays a critical role in the leadership of a project team to achieve the project’s objectives. Project Manager role is clearly visible throughout the project lifecycle. Project Managers are involved in project from Initiation through closing. Even may be involved in definition evaluation and analysis activities prior to project initiation. He follow-on activities related to realizing business benefits from the project.
Follow Good Practices: So, it’s especially important to assign the experienced project manager for any project to lead the project successfully. For large projects, this should be dedicated and full-time role. Always full-time dedicated resources will make sure that a continuous focus is kept on moving the project forward.
In theory, the business should lead all business projects. But in practice, many business functions do not have or developed the required project management skills, experience, or disciplined approach. A good working compromise, to appoint two people to work together in a partnership, a Project Manager, and a User or Business Representative. The comprehensive nature of these two roles should not be underestimated.
The Top Five Project Management Traits, you need to master the ‘how’ of project management as:
1. A Collaborative Management styles. 2. Adaptability. 3. Figure-it-out resourcefulness. 4. Highly developed communication skills. 5. Flexibility.
- Inspires a shared vision.
- Good communicator.
- Ability to delegate tasks.
- Cool under pressure.
- Team building skills.
- Problem solving skills.
Avoid commons mistakes: No project manager appointed. • Project manager appointed with no previous experience. • Mistaking enthusiasm or seniority for experience. • User project manager appointed to lead a large project, as well as his or her existing responsibilities. • More than one project manager appointed. • The project manager is not fully responsible and accountable for the project.
If you are a Project Manager, want to learn more about Project Management, or you want to be PMP certified? You need to have this PMI PMBOK Guide?
9. Importance of Getting Customer Representation
Follow Good Practices: Effective and experienced customer representation is required for any project to achieve the objectives. Therefore, User Representative should be appointed in partnership with Project Manager. The user representative will lead the User group and be responsible for all the business information to the project.
Important to keep the process user driven, and ultimate ownership of the project must rest with the business. You must make sure you have enough user resource to drive the project forward. If this is not available, you should stop the project. Follow a ‘no surprise’ approach with the user group. This requires regular communication and ‘telling the reality.
Avoid commons mistakes: Insufficient user resources made available. User Representative made available part-time. Underestimating the amount of user information needed during ALL stages of the project. Business information ending with a User Requirements Specification.
If users are not willing to be part of the project team, it’s a warning sign for any project.
10. Clear Project Roles and Responsibilities
Follow Good Practices: To define the clear Roles and Responsibilities is the key to success for any project. Project Manager should be making sure to have clear roles and responsibilities for the project. But this organization structure should be simple as much as possible.
For any larger project, following structure should work:
Executive Sponsor: Highest ranking manager on the project. Vocal champion for the project at executive level. Secures budget for the project. The final decision maker for the project.
Business Sponsor: Champion of the project who receives regular updates. Approves the project’s goals and objectives. Attends regular project review meetings. An important decision-maker for the project. Usually chairs the Steering Committee.
Steering Committee (also known as the Project Board): Composed of senior managers from the business. Responsible for oversight, control and key project decisions. Meets every 4 to 6 weeks. Helps resolve issues, approve scope changes and offers guidance and direction.
Project Team: Responsible for planning and executing the project. Led by the Project Manager, who reports to the Steering Committee. Always you must include a User Vendor Representatives with technical expertise.
User Group: Led by the User Representative. Must include subject matter experts (SMEs) from the business. Responsible for user acceptance testing the product or service.
Vendors: Contracted to supply products and services to the project. The roles and responsibilities for managing the project must be fully documented and adapted to suit the size and complexity of the project and the skills of the organization.
Avoid Common Mistakes: No clear ownership for the project. Lack of leadership and commitment from the Steering Committee. Roles and Responsibilities are not clearly defined. Disconnection between the Project Team and Steering Committee, such as, discussions not open and honest.
When Business Sponsor fails to attend scheduled project review meetings. This is a warning sign for the project.
11. Allocation of Dedicated and Right Resources
According to PMI PMBOK Guide, Project Resource Management includes the processes to identify, acquire, and manage the resources needed for the successful completion of the project. These processes will help to ensure that the right resources will be available to the project manager and project team at the right time, and place.
Follow Good Practices: To the success of the project, early availability of Customer and Supplier managers is a major contribution, with elevated levels of experience both in the business as well project delivery. Big projects required especially substantive and appropriate resources. Dedicated resources provided times to think it through. Two or more peoples have unique experience, professional network, and health debates.
Getting good people appointed as dedicated resource for the projects early is a tough challenge and some compromise is often necessary. Project Manager’s always have challenges to get the right resources, forming a cohesive team, keeping the team motivated, meeting with individual aspirations and getting the work done following the scope, cost, time and customer satisfaction delivering the value for the projects.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Many times, business not assigning dedicated and right resources for the projects. Appointed resources are overcommitted and not able to devote time to the project.
If resource requirements exceed resource available, it’s the warning sign for any project.
Note: Once the Definition, Initiation and Planning stages are complete the project, moves to the Monitoring & Control Stage for next practices.
12. Project Progress Monitoring and Reporting
It’s especially important to understand now, are you monitoring the progress of the project regularly to find out the gaps, challenges, and ongoing issues?
Follow Good Practices: The project plan should be monitored and updated regularly or every week. This is especially important since tasks are often underestimated or many new tasks may be identified as project will move forward.
If you are creating plan at the beginning of the project, put them in safe place and forget, why bother them in-the-first place? “In poorly run projects, problems can go undetected until the project fails. It’s like the drip…drip…drip of a leaky underground pipe. Money is being lost, but you don’t see it until there is an explosion.” – Joy Gumz
Avoid Common Mistakes: Project plans not updating after creation of first time. Using non-binary milestones. Reporting tasks as partially completed. Low-level tasks are not complete until they are actually completed they should be measured as to 0% or 100% complete. Ignoring warning signs and pressing on in
If number of open issues and increasing highly, contingency plans are in use faster compare to rate of progress of the project, this is a warning sign of the projects.
13. Communicating Project progress regularly
It’s necessary to ensure that the information needs of the project and its stakeholders are met through effective information exchange. Project Communications Management consists of two parts. Strategy to ensure communication is effective for stakeholders and carrying out the activities necessary to implement the communication strategy.
Follow Good Practices: Progress reporting is an important part of project management. Regular reports, anything from weekly to monthly, should be
issued to the Executive Sponsor or Business Sponsor, Budget Holder, Steering Committee, Project Team, User Group and circulated to all other interested parties. The report should be as-brief-as-possible and summaries key points. Standardize format should be created for reporting the project progress.
Regular progress reporting will create a valuable written record of the projects’ life. This can be used later to look back and decide how to improve the running of future projects. Metrics can also be developed to measure project progress in other ways, such as Earned Value, or Activity Float Statistics.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Poor communication channels. Lack of honest communication. Not asking for help when it is needed. Unwillingness to communicate unwelcome news is the warning sign of the projects.
14. Project Leadership and Consultations
Follow Good Practices: Are you getting the required consultation and leadership support for the project that may be not available in project teams? During all the stages of the project, many parties offering consultation.
The project should be controlled by a dedicated and small ‘core’ project team, which is focused on achieving a concrete result. this will make sure that when complex decisions must be made, they are made clearly, quickly, and forcefully.
Especially important for regional, cross regional and global projects to engage in lots-of consultation, to achieve significant business results in a realistic timeframe.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Deciding and then starting a debate. A real agreement not getting, and then revisiting the issue. Failing to stay goal focused.
“The Romans did not build a great empire by having meetings, they did it by killing all those who opposed them.”
15. Focused and Realistic User Requirements
Follow Good Practices: The total number of Focused and Real user requirements for any project can be ambitious, making it difficult or even impossible to deliver a solution that meets all the requirements, in a way, that is robust, cost-effective, maintainable and can be rolled out quickly to a large user base.
To match the user requirements specification against the solutions and available technology that can be implemented in a timely, practical, and robust way. This can result in an agreement that some of the user requirements, say 20%, will not be delivered.
This type of compromise will make sure that the remaining 80% can be quickly delivered. This compromise is important for global projects, and with a large user base. On such projects, the ease of implementation and speed is an important consideration in the overall solution.
To get a user requirement, effective Requirements analysis should be in place to increase the success of the project. These twelve rules can be followed:
- Never assume that you already know what customer wants, ask to them.
- Always involve users from the starting.
- Scope definition and agreement for the project.
- Users stories or requirements should be realistic, should be ensured.
- if you have any doubt, get clarity immediately.
- Always create a clear and concise user requirement documents sharing with your customers.
- Always confirm the requirements with customers by playing them back.
- Understood requirements fully before providing and talking about technology or solutions
- Always align requirements with stakeholder before starting the project.
- Try to create prototype with customer acceptance to refine the customer requirements.
- Try to use Unified Modeling Language (UML) with modelling software’s if possible.
- Regularly review and cross-check the software design with the actual requirements.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Never base the solution on latest technology and later discovering that can’t be easily rolled out to the real world. Not prioritizing the user requirements on Moscow principle like “Must Have”, “Should Have”, Could Have”, “Would Have”. Not having the real enough consultation with real users and practitioners. Trying to resolve the solution before knows them clearly. Instead of asking for the clarification, assuming and lacking clear understanding.
16. Understanding and Defining Project Approach
Follow Good Practices: Before starting any project, you need to understand what your project approach will be, should follow your development based on a prototyping iterative approach. When you are prototyping, you can refine and breath user requirement gathering process. Sometimes it’s found difficult to engage in dry documents where a screen-based prototype can create debate to life.
Prototype solutions or products always based on user and customer feedback to developers on a trial-based product or solution. When you release new prototype, you have opportunity to improve it further compare to previous one. Evolutionary prototype often accepted a final product. Prototyping approach first find out by developers in software development when are was not make sure about all user requirements until start the work on the project.
Agile methodology come in practice for Project Management in software development when a series of prototypes to create a early perception of prompt delivery to the users so that they feel involvement with commitment to the development process.
Always try to involve large population of users in prototyping review as early as possible to ensure that a large percentage of users will have seen the systems or product using demonstration and training sessions before go-live dates. It will provide high-level of confidence before go-live that systems or product meeting the user requirements and needs that can be highlighted earl on to resolve any problem that come and need immediate attention.
To skip prototyping process and directly build the solution or system may result very costly later.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Basing the user requirements on large documents only. Not using agile-iterative prototyping approach. Not involving real users in the prototyping process.
Recommendation: If you want to learn more about Project Management and wants to be PMP certified, this is the recommended best book to read for PMP Exam Preparation.
17. Conducting Structured Testing and Acceptance (UAT)
Follow Good Practices: Before deployment and go-live for any product or solution, you should have deliverables early testing. Delivering IT Projects in last 18 years, one of the fundamental lessons drawn is if you leave the testing in development cycle, the more it cost to you.
A structure testing and acceptance plan should be developed with test cases and then executed by peoples without development involvement. Besides testing the deliverables, you should also test overall infrastructure where deliverables will run. All major architecture components should be tested before building the final product or deliverables.
Test development life cycle should have these elements: 1. Test Plan 2. Specification of Testing 3. Code tests 4. Test Validations 5. Run the Tests. Test Documentation is a must have tool for managing and maintaining the testing process. Document that created by testing should have these answers upfront: 1. What need to be test? 2. How to test it? 3. What will be the results?
“When end users get involved in the final stages of testing, light bulbs go on, and they often have an ‘aha’ moment. Unfortunately, that is often too late.” – Frank R. Parth
Avoid Common Mistakes: No test plans prepared means not testing. Testing conducted by development team on ad-hoc basis. Before testing, waiting for the deployment of deliverables. Waiting for the contingency to test.
If testing stages or documentation you cut to make up lost time, this is a warning sign for the project.
18. Creating an Implementation Plan
Follow Good Practices: Have you created a comprehensive Implementation Plan for your Project? When you have a large project with wide user base, implementation stage can be more complex and very time-consuming compare to development stage. Generally, Implementation stage can give you many benefits treated as a sub-project. Let’s focus on following ideas especially for larger projects, new business process for multiple sites that are worth considering:
- Implementation Plan will have a strong personal stake to make it right if carried out by the people who will live and will work with the new system or solution.
- Conduct a survey companywide for every site meeting with senior management, gain their support, and fully understand the local practices will help to make sure that new process is fitted seamlessly with existing processes to avoid early discovered and nasty surprises.
- Chairperson should have a presentation for each site to show rest of the company showing dedicated support from the top of the organization.
- You need to have enough comprehensive training sessions for all the users, gatekeepers, project team members who are involved in the process.
- If you have multiple sites implementation, use the ideas to highlight to the company where the condition such as user buy-in, expertise and motivation are good. Successful implementation in the showcase to the company will prove the system and process to act as a center of expertise for the remaining sites.
- For multiple company and sites implementation, you need to have several workshops for the implementation teams allowing them to learn from each other. little competition will also help between the company and teams. This approach will help to make sure that problems are resolved faster, and other team members removes false problems. You can consider several awards for the implementation success. Some certificates test can be organized and awarded to the winners signing by the President or Chairperson that can be presented to the local implementation teams.
- Extraordinary measures can be considered like Gold, Grey and Blacklist because peoples do not like to be signed out as poor performers. Following this approach, you need to have simple measures that should not be challenged and should be fair objective to reject all bribes possibilities.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Failure to involve end users or other important stakeholders. Inadequate training. sessions
19. Conducting a Post Implementation Review
Follow Good Practices: For any project to conduct a post implementation review is extremely important. It’s always best practice to go back and review the progress made in delivering the project deliverables to achieve overall benefits. The post implementation review allowed final improvement to be made best results from the project.
As a project manager, its especially important to get all the learnings and knowledge from the project and making available to all to get the benefits to rest of the organization. Currently organizations are beginning to recognize the growing importance of Knowledge Management System.
Being the project manager, you are in a unique position helping to your customer and gain the benefits, detailed in the business case. It can be an extra stage after closed the project or run as part of the project itself. May be not followed directly from the project side, and start after a short period-of-time, but try to be before the post implementation review, which typically can take place three to six months after project completion.
In my experience, many projects delivered and declared as success without delivered the planned outcome or value from the project. At the end of the project, always hold a brief formal session as “Lesson Learned Review” with team’s post implementation of the project.
Avoid Common Mistakes: After completion of the project, forget what already has been done and discarding all useful information and experience that gained from the challenging projects. To be relaxed after finish that we simply move on without reviewing the project results. Un-Allocation of the teams without getting the lesson learned.
20. Benefits Realization
Follow Good Practices: Deliverables and benefits of the project will survive? On most of the projects, teams unallocated soon after delivery of the projects. This can result in the solution withering away and dying over a certain period especially when it has fallen story ground. this can be true for the projects that are involved a change in practices or business processes.
After delivered the successful project, teams should be retained for the stage called “Benefits Realization” to make sure that all the benefits and real value are available for the long time. A project should be completed when the benefits and value created to the business and that has been realized not just project has been delivered. This process will make sure that implementation problem has been resolved.
Now change the way what people think, work and manage is not so easy task, but without considering it your project shall be in danger of joining a long list of successful project deliveries that never realized their real expected benefit or result to co-create the real value.
Avoid Common Mistakes: Believing the way that project is over when the delivery and implementation will be complete. Drop out the project without any efforts and expecting benefits automatically. Without change, expecting the benefits.
21. Lesson Learned after Project Completion
Follow Good Practices: Have you realized and looked the lessons learned from the project that you completed? Every project has biggest opportunities and potentials to help you run future projects more effectively and efficiently. Always assess the project whether it was a great succus or failure or in between. Always concentrate what are the big, important lessons from the project that will have a significant impact on your future projects.
History itself has a strange way of repeating. If we don’t take time to learn the lessons of the past incidents, and-also act on them, we will continue to commit the same mistakes repeatedly. if you think it won’t happen to you, it will sure!
Avoid Common Mistakes: Thinking too being busy to evaluate projects when they have finished them. Before reviewing the project to get the lessons, move to next project. Ignoring to realize the lessons from past projects. Not making lessons learned available to the organization and help others.
It’s a warning sign when you are making same mistakes time-and-again.
22. BONUS – Celebrating the Project Success
Before moving to next project, you find out the time to celebrate the project success. It’s provided the opportunity to say thank you to your teams to continue with motivation. Always publicize your success to inside and outside the organization. This approach will help you to raise you and your team profile and credentials for the future projects.
After completion of a project and the steps along the way can be Rewarding for the project Team members. If you celebrating successes outwards, can be a source of motivation for you and teams. You should celebrate the success communicate to a project team members when project milestones are reached. Small rewards for team members who gone beyond their duties, should be considered to communicate a job well done.
These rewards can come in different forms like certificates of appreciation to recognition in the organizations staff newsletter or on its website. If you need to have true motivation that comes from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction and recognition.