4 best practices for project management

| By:
Linda Brotherton

The numbers are enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned project manager. Poor project management is wasting billions of dollars every year. When large-scale projects overrun their budgets, companies risk operations disruptions, wasted money, and negative publicity.

In recent posts, we’ve given practical steps for experiencing the best from your projects without letting them get the best of you. ConnectWise PSA has helped technology service providers run their projects for more than 30 years. Check out the best practices we live by to ensure our partners’ success:

1. Guard against scope creep

Example: Company Y had been completing projects, but was experiencing an excessive number of project blowouts in terms of cost and time. Researching the problem showed project scopes were expanding without control or authorization. Company Y instituted new processes for sign-off by both company and customer representatives on all scope changes that affected project time, quality, and cost. Project satisfaction and profitability immediately improved.

Takeaway: What might begin as a seemingly harmless request for a slight change can mushroom into additions and new direction far off the initial range of the SOW. To avoid this path to project blowout, have a well-defined process in place for you and your customer to sign-off on all project changes that affect time, quality, and cost. Your bottom line will thank you for it.

2. Define your success

Example: In the pre-sales process of evaluating a number of large project opportunities, Company Y held several meetings to identify the key elements necessary for each project to be a success. They documented requirements and costs in a detailed way that would limit scope creep. This defining process set appropriate expectations for delivery.

Takeaway: It’s very difficult to satisfy a client without understanding how that customer defines satisfaction. Prior to any project, all involved parties should identify the key elements that will make that project a success, along with the details and costs required. Setting agreed-upon expectations from the start takes the guessing out of delivering on a promise.

3. Catch risks up front

Example: At the beginning of every project, Company Y set up and tracked all of their project review meetings in a RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Decisions) system. This helped clarify any potential project risks to the customer and, in turn, the company. By having the meetings during the kickoff stage, most risks were identified and addressed early.

Takeaway: This falls under the ‘you can never be too careful’ category. There are some risks in every project. The goal is to recognize and minimize them from the start.

4. Sponsor every project

Example: Company Y learned that for a project to be successful throughout its lifecycle, it must be sponsored. They assigned a company manager to sponsor every project and required a customer sponsor at the decision-maker level. Any changes during a project had to be approved by both parties, resulting in better accountability.

Takeaway: Somebody needs to ‘own it.’ Successful projects require a sponsor on both your end and the customer’s. The project manager should connect regularly with both sponsors, overseeing effective communication and accountability.

Armed with these project management best practices, ConnectWise PSA can give you the expertise and experience to help make your next project a success.