Project Management Implementation

Best Practices for Ensuring Project Implementation Success

“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.” Joy Gumz
And the Project Manager is that Engine Driver who has to keep this engine running smoothly while ensuring whole train is on track ! 
Project Manager while implementing a client project is responsible for client facing interaction and the complete client project life-cycle from requirements gathering through planning, implementation and installation into production. The role is multi-faceted, requiring a mixture of problem solving, communication, presentation, and management skills.
Project Implementation success depends largely upon vision. In a very real sense, the project manager is the fulcrum upon which the various components of a given project are balanced, so an individual in this position must be able to see the big picture, recognize priorities and hone his or her ability to communicate effectively.
To keep your projects running smoothly and on schedule, look to the best practices by implementing these five secrets to project management success:
1 – Develop a Rapport With Key Stakeholders
The first step to implementation management success begins with developing positive relationships and open communication among everyone who is contributing to the project. Project managers work with many highly skilled and talented professionals, and these individuals expect to be recognized for their expertise—both by the project leader and their fellow team members.
A good implementation manager will engage his or her entire team throughout each phase of the project, creating an environment that encourages cooperation and the sharing of ideas to arrive at the best possible solutions. Successful projects rely on teamwork and mutual respect among collaborators, and this is best achieved when he is regarded as a positive and supportive figure who fosters communicative and open working relationships.
2 – Face the client – Manage the team
To avoid confusions, ensure accurate requirement gathering and to keep all the cookies in same tray, it is important that client’s central point of contact is one person, designated project manager !
On any team, it is important for all members to understand their roles and responsibilities, and for the him to allow them to carry out their duties with minimal interference. If he attempts to control every aspect of the process, team members may feel as if their leader doesn’t trust them or doesn’t value their contributions. This can be detrimental to project management success. You don’t want to “micromanage” or get involved in the work of team members unnecessarily.
3 – Do Your Homework
While a project manager is not expected to have a comprehensive understanding of every specialty within the organization, the more you know, the better you’ll be able to lead. Project management success requires research and a working knowledge of industry best practices. Also, you can’t effectively lead your team members if you don’t have a clear understanding of what they do. Prior to the start of a project, learn everything you can about your team and what each person will be contributing to the project.
4 – Define Process And Follow The Defined Process
Implementation is carried out by defining processes as per the project scope and then follow the defined process ensuring the whole crew following the same guidelines. This avoids conflicts, defines work boundaries and let the team sail through smoothly. Also, in today’s technologically advanced project management environment, it’s critical to have an understanding of the different software and web-based applications available. Your solution should streamline your processes, save steps and help collaborators avoid duplication of effort. 
Implementation Manager is also responsible to make life easy for every stakeholder by defining the Acceptance Criteria at the initiation phase to ensure smooth project delivery and to secure a happy client at the end.  
5 – Enhance Your Expertise Through Continuing Education
The key to ongoing project management success is to ensure your knowledge and skills are as comprehensive and current as possible. The best way to achieve that is through professional education. By undertaking training that is relevant to your work, you’ll bring greater value to the organization, will explore and implement industry best practices and not to mention, while decorating your résumé of-course.

10 Steps To A Successful Project Management Implementation

Nowadays many organizations are seriously overwhelmed with project portfolios that have dramatically grown in size, sophistication and the number of resources involved. Just to illustrate this point, recently a CEO of a large financial institution mentioned in a private conversation with me, “It seems only yesterday we had a couple of fifty-thousand dollar projects in our portfolio and today we have ten ongoing endeavors ranging in size from $5 to $20 million. We were not prepared for this”.

How should these organizations adjust their business models? Many companies are attempting deployments of their own project management frameworks to address the issues above. This article is aimed to provide senior executives of such organizations with the key lessons learned by the author stemming from numerous previous projects of similar nature.

Implementing Project Management

How Are We Doing?
Before we venture into the discussion of the finer points of project management implementation, let us analyze the current situation in the industry and assess our ability to handle projects.

According to researchers 19% of the project undertaken in 2008 were complete failures (i.e. cancelled because of significant cost overruns or being late). Forty six percent represented troubled projects (i.e. significantly over budget and/or late but completed nonetheless). And only 35% of projects undertaken were delivered on time and on budget (give or take a couple of percent here and there).

I don’t think anyone would argue that these figures demonstrate that we are a long way from perfection when it comes to selecting, planning and executing our projects.

The Key Steps

Here are some of the lessons learned derived from several successful implementations of project management frameworks performed by Thinktank Consulting at various organizations in Canada, US, Asia and Middle East.

Lesson # 1: Customize Methodology – Never try to impose an “off-the-shelf” project management methodology onto any organization. Instead:

Interview a cross-section of company employees and, if possible customers and suppliers, to obtain the real project-related issues.
Use the “best practices” project management methodology to tailor the solutions proposed to the concerns voices by the people working for the organization
Note: it is very likely that some of the issues voiced will not map directly to the domain of project management. For example, challenges like “most of our projects are of low value to the organization” or “we are constantly taking on way more projects than we are capable of handling” indicate issues with portfolio management (the science of project selection and strategic resource allocation) rather than with project management.

Lesson # 2: Champion Simplicity – Initially try to concentrate on the simplest forms of the methodology. If processes and documents become too complicated people will find creative ways to ignore them!

Lesson # 3: Use Focus Groups – Always use “focus groups” of company employees with at least a basic knowledge of project management to validate the processes and templates you are proposing. This will ensure that they are properly fine-tuned to company realities and you get buy-in.

Lesson # 4: What Is A Project? – Try to determine what constitutes a project and what doesn’t for that particular organization. Establish a threshold to distinguish between “project” and “business as usual”.

Lesson # 5: Educate Stakeholders – Run several one- or two-day company-wide project management seminars. Your mission is not to create several dozen project managers “overnight” but rather to familiarize all of the potential project stakeholders with the key concepts of project management and to spread the PM culture throughout your organization.

Lesson # 6: Be Patient – If a significant resistance to change is encountered (a very likely scenario) try to apply a phased approach. For example, select a group of pilot projects to be run under the new methodology to be followed by all flagship projects, to be followed by all projects.

Lesson # 7: Assign Dedicated Project Managers – Introduce the role of a full-time project manager to the company. Depending on the number of pilot projects the organization will probably require more than one.

Lesson # 8: Communicate – Debrief key stakeholders at every milestone. Presentation software like PowerPoint with charts, graphs and tables is your best friend! In general keep in mind that communications is the key. An intranet webpage dedicated to the new methodology and project-related news, seminars, debriefing lunch-and-learns, short updates during functional department head meetings – any combination of the above-mentioned tools should be used to carry the positive message to your organization.

Lesson # 9: Capture “Before” and “After” Data – Capturing the “before” and after” project related data is essential. Otherwise it would be very difficult to prove to the naysayers (and the executives) that the project performance and results have indeed improved and that the investment has been worth the effort.

Lesson # 10 Hire a Professional – As self-serving as it sounds, don’t assume this difficult endeavor can be undertaken by internal resources with little or no experience in such projects. Hiring an external knowledgeable and unbiased professional who is capable of interviewing the stakeholders, developing a customized project management methodology and training your employees is probably the most efficient approach to this project.