Best Practice | By Andrew Winthorp | Read time minutes
Bringing projects in on time and on budget is always a challenge. With the competing demands for labour and capital, projects have many internal and external forces that can contribute to a derailment. It takes a strong sense of direction, efficiency and leadership to keep the project on track. The following guidelines are some helpful tips that every project manager can use at one time or another:
- Always take the extra time upfront to make sure that the business case has been adequately defined. Often, commercial demands desire to deliver a quick project outcome. Whilst expediting, the project should be firmly part of the agenda, taking the extra time upfront can pay long-term dividends. When projects are rushed the functional purpose of the project is often compromised and important details get overlooked. As the project manager it is important that you steer the client towards doing the necessary due diligence to ensure you have a watertight business case. In the event that the project is deficient in some way, you may be liable to take the blame if important details are overlooked. Costly damage control measures can send the project off course, result in budget blowouts and cause client resentment. Project managers need to have the foresight to take charge upfront and demand that projects are subject to proper due diligence prior to commencement.
- Always build some contingency into the schedule and the budget. Doing so will give you greater scope to move in the event that contingent actions or adjustments become necessary. If you get pushed for time, you can allocate extra resources as part of your contingency budget. Although profitability may be slightly compromised, a positive project outcome is much more desirable than having to put out fires or explain to management why adequate checks and balances were not put in place.
- Make use of software reporting capabilities to run regular reports for performance improvement. You will be surprised how much feedback reports can provide if you take the time to set them up. Process improvements and superior resource allocation all contribute to an increase in productivity and a reduction in costs. Ultimately this affects the bottom line. A good project manager strives for continual improvement.
- Take time to build a good relationship with staff and team members. Successful project managers need to know how to get the best from their staff. A good leader builds respect and this respect transfers to project success. Often, when extra effort is required, if you have taken the time to build respect, team members will respond when the challenge arises.
These four tips have stood the test of time. You should keep them in mind, think about them and apply them to your circumstance. You might be surprised, if you contemplate these suggestions how you discover new insights that lead to greater project success!