How Can I Create a Repeatable (and Successful) Project Management Process?
Are you tired of managing a project in a different way every time? Does shooting from the hip result in late and low-quality projects? Are your teams so scattered and directionless that completing a project is more a matter of luck? Maybe you need a repeatable project management process.
“But wait!” you say. “All projects are unique, so we should adapt our process accordingly!” This is true, but all the more reason for you to establish a consistent process. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Find the Gaps
The problem with doing things differently each time is that, sooner or later, you’re going to overlook a step. As you create your new (and more effective) project management process, you need to be able to go back to your previous projects find the gaps. Are there lots of bugs in your product? Add more testing and QA time. Do you always get an incomplete list of requirements? Create a set of discovery questions for every kickoff meeting.
Get Everyone On Board
Bad habits wouldn’t be around if someone didn’t prefer them. Maybe the project manager is lazy. Maybe the stakeholders are too busy. Or someone on the team wants the entire process to revolve around him. And the crazy thing about it is that people will fight to keep the old, ineffective process, just because they’re used to it.
If you’re the one implementing change, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. It’s difficult and frustrating, but it has to be done if the organization is going to improve.
Account for the Variables
As I mentioned above, you should never use “all projects are different” as an excuse. Of course they are—you’re a PMO, not a factory. A repeatable project management process should be a framework where you can plug in different variables and still get consistently successful results.
Always adjust your expectations based on the variables. You can’t expect to a 50-page intranet portal to take the same amount of time as a 10 page website, just because they’re using the same project management method. It’s unrealistic and unfair to the team.
The biggest trap of having a process (and the reason there’s resistance to having one) is that it’s easy to put too much attention on the process itself, rather than the project’s actual goal. In this case, the process actually becomes an obstacle to success.
Every time you add a step to your process, think about how it will affect project workflow. Will it streamline things, or cause a roadblock? Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? Does the project need more testing time instead of a faster release schedule? Which would result in a more useful product for the consumer?
If you can implement a repeatable project management process—one that is created specifically for your organization—you’ll be able to drastically improve team efficiency and improve project quality. It also makes it easier to track and evaluate project metrics, so that you can more see where and how your team needs to improve to succeed. And who doesn’t want to succeed?
Image credit, Flickr, SuperJet International
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.