By: Arvind Venkatraman, Chief Technology Officer, Congruent Solutions
Managing project completion, delivery deadlines and budgets can be challenging in the specialized enterprise software product implementation arena. This has been a common roadblock for may enterprises which gives rise to the question of “what is missing?” – we need to think about what needs to be implemented in existing systems – to ensure faster success, and at the same time not compromise on quality, efficiency, meeting the rigorous demands of time, and monetary considerations.
Following these ten guidelines in their projects from a methodology point of view can enable enterprises to achieve all-rounded success.
1. Stay committed to the project: Firstly, the sponsor and the company engaged in the project must agree on the objectives, set expectations, and be fully committed to meet them. Project owners must address red flags and issues as and when they arise and be aware of the areas that will need attention down the road. The company and the sponsor should ensure that project owners have all the requisite support and resources at every step of the way. In essence, this ensures accountability and ownership across the value chain.
2. Outline success parameters: To avoid ambiguity and confusion,there must be clarity on who the primary sponsor for the project within the company is and what their definition of ‘success is. The success parameters and performance metrics must be clearly outlined and communicated to the project owner to ensure sustained productivity.
3. Identify all stakeholders: Project owners must know important stakeholders of the project and that everyone is aligned with objectives and metrics of success. This could mean investing extra time and effort at the start, but in the long run, there will be significant savings during the project.
4. Communicate the objective: Having objectives in place is just the first step. Project owners and managers must also spend time with the team members creating awareness on the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the project’s business objective. During the early stages of the project, it is vital to communicate the various facets of the objective to understand them and work towards them. This is often ignored or given less importance in many enterprises and that’s when trouble starts brewing because there is a disconnect between the actual objective and the perceived one. When there is a thorough understanding of a common objective and the perception of ‘we’ as opposed to ‘I’ within the team, team members work with commitment, care and a sense of belonging.
6. All eyes on the objective: Once project owners plunge into the project, it’s all about meeting the objective and titles can be left at the door. The Agile process allows project owners and leaders to provide an ideal objective-oriented environment much more than the Waterfall Methodology. In such an environment, team members tend to see the project managers/owners as ‘partners’ who are ‘engaged’ in the process of meeting the objective and not as people standing ‘in the way’.
5. Building an A-team: Getting the right people on board is key and this process should not be hurried. It is important to get people with technical expertise and equal domain knowledge. Besides, soft skills, leadership skills, attitude, and thinking are also important metrics to judge candidates. A good project is headed by the right leader supported by a good number of ‘thinkers’. For the entire project duration, team members practically live together; so, the people chosen to be part of the team should also vibe well and have fun together. Project managers must surround themselves with change agents rather than people who are comfortable with the way things are.
6. Break down deliverables: So, now the objectives are defined, and the right team is in place. What happens next? The next step is where the actual work begins and a big step here is to cut through large chunks of deliverables and breaking them into smaller tasks. The team can then understand how their contribution fits in the larger scheme of things and get a sense of achievement and celebrates frequent wins. Managers must also frequently update the team on what they have achieved thus far and what they must be aiming to complete next.
7. Establish multiple target dates: Agile is no doubt a robust and transparent model. However, one tends to keep running in this model. So, sometimes, people may lose sight of the endpoints or the interim milestones. Project owners need to set interim target dates to work towards these dates even in the Agile model.
8. Mitigate risks: A significant part of today’s processes is fraught with risks and they cannot be avoided. Readiness to take risks and clear risk mitigation plans go hand-in-hand. If projects managers have to meet their timelines, it doesn’t make sense to indulge in a last-minute scramble for alternative ideas. If Plan A fails, project owners and managers must always have Plan B in place if some risks do not play out the way they intended.
9. Take swift corrective action: Managers and project owners must be ready to take quick corrective actions when things do not turn out well. They must keep a close watch on the proceedings and be agile enough to correct the course, whenever and wherever required.
10. Manage relationships smartly: While risk management, dependency management, and issue management are all important, it all boils down to one crucial aspect: relationship management. This refers not only to managing relationships within the team but also managing relationships with all stakeholders. This ensures everyone rises to the occasion in case unprecedented issues and risks crop up.
So, the first and foremost step before enterprises jump into the ‘project bandwagon’ is to ingrain these methodologies in their processes systematically. Once they become part of the enterprise DNA, projects can be implemented with a high degree of ease and success.
A version of this blog was published on Enterprise IT World.