May 26, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Closing a project prematurely – is it right?

By Simon Beuhring

Closing projects prematurelyHave you ever worked on a project which lost sight of its goals? Or worse, worked on a project where the goals were never clearly defined?

If so, then join the club of projects which have been a waste of money.

Recipe for disaster

Too many times projects are started based upon loosely defined objectives. The most important stakeholder on a project – the sponsor – authorizes such projects and then sits back thinking their job is done. Project managers are then left with the job of delivering the project, often without further input from the sponsor. This is a recipe for disaster.

Business justification

A fundamental principle of project management is that a project must have continued business justification. Without it, you are guaranteed to waste both precious time and money.

This means that the sponsor must be involved from the very beginning in defining the reasons for doing the project. This means being clear about the business problem(s) you are facing, or the business opportunity which is presenting itself.

Business Case is the key

The most important of all project documentation is the Business Case. This document outlines the reasons for doing the project and the expected benefits which will result from the project. It should contain an investment appraisal where the costs and risks are weighed up against the expected benefits.

Deliverables help realise benefits [Read more…]

6 Winning Practices for Effective Programme Management

Today we will look at managing a programme and which recommended practices you want to consider when managing a programme.

If we look at a simple definition of a Programme, it is that a Programme is a group of projects, which are grouped together because they contribute to the same objectives in the business strategy.

Here are 6 recommendations for managing a programme:

1. Review the Strategy

When kicking off your programme, the first step is to review your business case and agree on the objectives that your programme is responsible for delivering. This is important, as the objectives are what you use to peg your projects to. If you end up creating new projects that don’t contribute your specified objectives, then they should be excluded from your programme!

2. Line up management support

It is of utmost importance to gain the support of your executive team through the Business Case. This will help you to identify the benefits and costs of running the programme, the risks you foresee and what it is that you need to make it a success. It will also help you get the funding you require, as your Business Case will justify the funding needed, by stating the benefits to be realized.

3. Start carefully

Now that you have the funding and support from management, you’re ready to kick-off. Before launching into scoping your projects—instead define your overall programme of work in depth first. Create a Program Charter setting out your vision, objectives, roadmap and deliverables. Then set up a Program Office and appoint the key members of your administration team.

4. Project selection is critical

You’re now ready to define your projects and other related work. Scope out each project carefully and make sure that the benefits delivered from all of your projects combined, deliver the goals stated in your Business Case. Selecting the right projects to deliver the right benefits is critical. Make sure you categorize, evaluate, select and prioritize your projects carefully.

5. It’s all down to execution

Now kick off your projects in a logical order. Spread your programme resources (people, time and money) evenly so you don’t have resource constraints. Never schedule critical projects to take place at the end. To retain the buy-in of your Sponsor, make sure your projects deliver value early.

6. Control chaos

After your projects kick off, changes in the business often cause a level of chaos. Your projects change in scope, their budgets get constrained and resource shortages start occurring. How you react to these changes will determine your level of success as a Program Manager.

When this happens, step back and re-assess your programme. Outside influences are often the cause and these are things that you alone can fix. Only in exceptional circumstances should you dive into the depths of the program itself and work alongside project managers and teams at the micro level. A good Program Manager will instead step back and make macro level changes to influence the success of the programme.

For more project related resources like training, software and products, please visit the Resources page.

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