Guest post by Joel Parkinson
In general, a project is defined as an activity or endeavor that has a definite start and end date, and is done to achieve certain goals or objectives. The common stages of a project include Initiation, Planning, Execution, Control and Completion. A project is also run by a project manager, who is responsible for the day-to-day execution of tasks, and is often appointed by the project owner or sponsor. A good project manager must also possess the ability to communicate clearly, solve problems, handle interpersonal conflicts, and plan, as well as secure commitments. Below are more useful tips on how to manage a project effectively.
Define Project Scale and Scope
Once a project proposal hits the desk of the project manager, most of the terms and information inside it can still be too broad or undefined. The first thing that the project manager must do is make a list of questions that should be asked for clarification. The more closely project managers define the project at the onset, there will be less likelihood of slippage, and other costly errors.
Identify Project Tasks
Once the project plan or proposal passes the viability and feasibility tests, the next phase would be to identify and designate all the individual tasks associated with the project. Good project management requires the efficient managing of various activities, to bring a successful conclusion forth. Remember that, in project management, a “task” refers to anything that consumes time, whether action is required or not.
Get Off To a Good Start
Get off to a good start, by keeping track of the objectives. The manager can eliminate all fears and uncertainty by holding regular formal meetings with all stakeholders, and keeping morale up by immediately dealing with all staff concerns. The manager must also make sure that he/she has all inputs from interested parties, and foster an open environment that encourages the free sharing of ideas. It would also help if the manager breaks the project into small sections, for better tracking of progress.
Perform Time, Quality and Cost Change Control
According to most project management experts, a project has three major constraints, and these are time, quality and cost. The manager, along with his or her team, needs to devise a set of parameters (and safety nets) to ensure that if things go wrong, the problems are recognized, and the project is not bogged down because the backup plans and revisions are already in place.
When it comes to managing projects effectively, take time to identify what went well and what did not go right. Learn from your mistakes and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the project team (or the processes), and then hold meetings with the team to discuss what positive changes need to be done to improve.
Joel Parkinson is a writer for the web site projectmanager.com where he has recently been researching project management software. In his spare time, Joel enjoys surfing and running.
The Product Management Perspective: Software projects have a lot of moving parts. The project manager keeps these projects running smoothly. A solid project manager is a product manager’s best friend. Work closely with your project manager and be grateful for the work they do to keep your software project moving forward in a timely manner.