A new project manager asked me what the steps are for a successful projects. Projects are all slightly different by definition, but here are the general steps to a successful project.
Kick off Meeting
When you get a project, you want to have a kick off meeting as quickly as possible so you can establish the
scope, requirements, and timeline. In order to meet the goals of the kick off meeting you need all the key stakeholders present. Every project starts with two roles – the person giving you the project and the sponsor. The person giving you the project is usually your boss and a manager in PMO. The sponsor is the person supplying the funding and support for the project. They will ultimately get the credit or blame for the project. As a result, your interests are aligned with both of these people and they should be able to supply you with a
list of stakeholders for the project.
KICK OFF MEETING MINUTES
When you hold your meeting, you need to keep meeting minutes. Here is a sample email of Meeting Minutes.
To: all stakeholders
Subject: Audit Project Kickoff Meeting Minutes – 7/7/12
Scope – see attached. If you do not respond, the scope will be final. Any future changes to the scope will result in changes to the timeline, cost or effort involved.
Requirements – Siddhartha Jena due 7/14/12
Timeline – Siddhartha Jena due 7/14/12
These meeting minutes clear show who attended, what was discussed, and when action items are due. You should always make action items the discussion topics for the following meeting. In addition, your notes should provide a higher degree or detail than my sample.
When you have the kick off call make sure you get input from all parties and reiterate the goals of the project and get verbal agreement on the goals/scope. After the meeting send out meeting minutes and attach a separate scope document with a version number on it, ie scope_v1.doc. If the scope changes, update the document to v2, etc. When you review the scope you can make sure everyone is looking at the same version.
In your email make sure to state any changes to the scope will affect cost, timelines, etc. This prevents you from being locked into dates that become unreasonable if the scope changes. I don’t mind some scope changes, provided these allowances are made so I can meet my dates. The core of project management is delivering on schedule, on budget, and without drama. Any project manager who accomplishes these three things is good at what they do.
You need to get a comprehensive list of what is required to complete the project. Do you need WAN circuits, if so any completion date shorter than ninety days in unobtainable. Do you need hardware? If so, how long will it take to get the hardware and configure it. The project manager should never make these determinations without feedback from the stakeholders performing the work. You should also make sure you understand how the requirements help you meet the project scope. If you don’t understand it, ask questions until you do. You are doomed to failure, if you don’t know what you are doing and will definitely end up missing requirements.
This is really part of requirements. You need a realistic timeline for getting the project complete. Most projects I have worked on start with unrealistic timelines. You should never wait to warn stakeholders the project is at risk. If the project starts with an impossible deadline, you need to correct it at the kickoff meeting or very shortly thereafter. Some companies set codes to projects – green, yellow, and red. I immediately move projects to yellow, if the deadline is unrealistic and back that up with the timeline.
You need to meet every week for three reasons. First, it allows the entire team to get together and discuss any challenges to the project. Second, you will get regular status updates. Third, everyone knows they have a regular deadline to complete parts of the project. If anyone on the team is not getting things done on time or simply not cooperating, you should bring it to the attention of the project sponsor. The sponsor usually has the power to make things happen in the organization and can get resources aligned with the project.
The implementation plan should be a written document that includes what will happen, when it will happen and who will do it. Microsoft Project is usually the tool of choice for this document, but small projects can be an email or spreadsheet. The project manager should always be involved in the implementation and make sure all stakeholders have what they need and the implementation is going smoothly. The project manager job description is doing whatever it takes within company policy and ethics to get the job done. The project manager should also update the sponsor on implementation status. You want to build in enough time to attempt the project a second time before the deadline, in case the implementation is unsuccessful.
What did you learn? You should have a meeting at the end of the project to discuss what went well and what didn’t. If the project was successful, make sure to thank all the people that made it possible so they will look forward to working with you again.
Courtesy : http://www.cerebellumstrategies.com/project-management-lifecycle/