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Project management has no safety net

Project management has no safety net 12.12.2016 - The success of a project depends to a great extent on good planning. In project management, the saying ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ doesn’t apply. On the contrary, it’s easier to effectively manage a project if there are several players on board. This ensures that the milestones are reached on time and that the project schedule is adhered to. If you take the lone wolf approach, it only takes one thing to go wrong and the project is in jeopardy. Team work is therefore a must, and the success of the project doesn’t necessarily depend on whether the team members like each other or not.
 
The timely close-out of the project is in the interest of everyone involved. It leads to the rewards of praise, recognition and personal satisfaction.
 
Motivation is good, but if you want to achieve the project objectives you also need to sustain the motivation of the entire team, not just individual members, throughout the entire project.
 
Projects are a mandatory element of the way most large organisations work these days. In the past people were often derisive about projects. Today they are common practice. Around half of the hours in a working week involve project work in a team. Transparency, efficiency and optimisation are management keywords, while performance, motivation and successful business are the keywords that apply to employees. Just one cog in the project machine running slower than the others can put the project at risk. The management shouldn’t just demand results, they also have to perform a role model function.
 
Defining objectives
 
Clearly defined objectives are essential in effective project management. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, or when and how you want to achieve it, you won’t achieve anything. It’s good to be flexible because even the best project planning team can run into unexpected difficulties.  
 
Prompt and focused responses to problems are essential, and stakeholders and the organisation’s management can be pillars of strength in problematic project phases. Not only does a well-planned project need defined objectives, it also needs a budget framework and a time schedule that can be referred to whenever necessary. Ultimately, when the project closes out, daily business resumes and the project team members go back to their regular jobs.
 
Follow me!
 
It is important to involve the organisation’s management in a project by providing them with regular information. If the management is aware of any project bottlenecks and problems it can make the necessary additional resources available. Everyone with an interest in the project should be involved in the project process to prevent disruptive elements and troublemakers posing risks in the project. If all stakeholders are involved, there are less likely to be any crises because involvement encourages them to engage in and contribute to the project in some way. It makes them feel part of the project and more motivated to see the project close out successfully in the interest of everyone involved.
 
Talk to me!
 
Communicating with people can cause miracles to happen in all kinds of contexts. Transparent communications are obviously important in project management, but they aren’t always easy in practice. Sometimes we get so stressed in our jobs that we forget to communicate, causing conflicts or misunderstandings. Negative communication is harmful to any project team. It’s also important to communicate comprehensively and respond promptly when an issue requires clarification.  Preventing communication crises is a management responsibility.
 
Playing in the team
 
It isn’t necessarily true that teams that have been together for longer work better. Sometimes new team members contribute fresh ideas for the project and perceive potential problems that the old team wouldn’t notice. The smaller the team is, the more effectively it works. Communication paths are also easier to manage when fewer people are involved. Basically, the number of people involved in a project depends on its size and requirements. The team members should have the optimum mix of professional and social skills to minimise team conflicts. Assigning roles and responsibilities to specific team members is another effective way of eliminating potential conflicts. And when conflicts do occur, the team has to be open, honest and fair in its communications with each other.
 
‘Me first’ doesn’t work in self-management!
 
Team players profit from a collaborative mind-set and the opportunity to share ideas with their colleagues. It can be very satisfying to move towards a common objective together, provided that you can also effectively manage yourself. Everyone works in a different way, which is why self-management is so important in projects. Even though you can always ask your other team members for assistance when necessary, you have to be able to organise your own project activities efficiently. Good self-management saves valuable resources and has a positive impact on team output. It feels great to know you’re making an important contribution to the project and that you’re an appreciated member of the team.
 
You’ve probably experienced plenty of project management highs and lows in your career. Let us know what you think is most important in project management by sending us a mail to info@iapm.net. We look forward to hearing about your experiences.

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