Here we go, 2020 is here and you are ready to kick off those new projects. Before you dive right in, now’s a good time to do a quick check to make sure you are setup for success. Below are three ways to ensure you start your new projects off on the right foot:
1 – Clearly define and communicate the project goal: Many projects fail because the goal of the project is too ambiguous. If there isn’t a specific goal outlined in a project charter, you end up with a team that goes in different directions. This causes scope creep and chaos, and I’ve seen it time and time again. It is the responsibility of the project manager to work with the sponsor to define and communicate the project goal. The communication about the project goal needs to happen often for the project team and stakeholders. This will create alignment and keep everyone marching in the right direction. In my post about managing business analytics projects, I described a good framework that can be used to define the project goal.
2 – Set boundaries for non-project team members: When it comes to high visibility projects, often too many people get involved. The project manager, with help of the sponsor, needs to communicate who is on the project team. Some people may have their feelings hurt when they learn they are not part of the project, but this must be done. Only core project team members should be in team meetings. Anyone who is not a core team member distracts from the team chemistry and productivity. Often in software delivery projects, small cross functional teams are the highest performing. If your core team has more than eight people, you may need to check whether you have people on the team who don’t need to be.
3 – Plan for change: Whether you are running a Waterfall or Agile project, plan for change. Today’s project teams must be able to adapt to uncertain or changing requirements. This requires recurring retrospectives to see what needs to be improved or changed. The caveat is that if the team has a low level of Agile maturity, it is important they follow a change management process. If they don’t, change can cause big problems. For mature Agile teams, late changes to requirements can be a competitive advantage.
As we kick off the new year, take a step back and make sure your projects are setup for success. If you know that any of the three areas I mentioned have been neglected, address them now while it’s early. What you don’t want is to be 6-12 months into a project and realize the project goal was unclear.