Launching a new product, constructing a new building, implementing new software, recruiting a new employee… Every day, companies have to manage a multitude of different projects. In order to be successful and profitable, they need to ensure that project management, no matter how big or small, is masterfully handled by their teams.
Successful projects cannot be improvised. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2021 report, 12% of projects were considered failures in 2021, 34% suffered from target drift and 35% failed because of a wrong budget. Successful projects therefore require preparation, organisation and planning.
So, to manage your projects effectively and achieve your objectives on time, you need to follow the key steps of project management.
Reminder: what is project management?
Also known as project management, project management consists of organising the progress of a project from A to Z, i.e. from its conception to its delivery. To do this, the project manager and his or her team must define the objectives, determine the human and material resources required, the budget and the deadlines, and identify any constraints and risks. To coordinate and execute the required tasks, they can rely on a range of techniques, methods and tools.
5 key steps to effective project management
Every project is different and no two projects will be managed in the same way. However, there are some key steps to managing all your projects to ensure success.
This is the initial phase of any project. This stage is crucial because it consists of establishing the outline of the project. This is where you define the objectives of the project (e.g. using the SMART method) and what is expected of you, i.e. what the deliverables are. You should also determine :
- what deadlines you have?
- what budget is needed to carry out the project?
- what human and material resources you will need?
Finally, you should also identify the constraints that could hinder the smooth running of the project (cost, scope, time, quality constraints, etc.).
It is also during this stage that you set up your project team, organise a kick-off meeting and start producing project documentation such as the project charter and project plan.
Once the outline of the project is clearly defined, it is time to start planning. This is an essential step in project management. To make your project a success, you need to break it down into several stages and milestones.
For each deliverable, you need to identify all the tasks required to complete it. Then you need to prioritise these tasks and determine their dependency on each other. For example, before you build the roof of a house, you must first build the four walls.
Once you have listed all the tasks you need to do, you need to set up a timeline. Leave yourself some leeway by allowing 20-30% extra time to avoid delays, and 10-20% extra budget to deal with unforeseen events and avoid going over budget.
Next, you need to determine who does what by assigning tasks to your team members according to their skills, knowledge and experience. The question is whether you have all the skills in-house or whether you will need to call on external skills (recruitment, contractors, freelancers, etc.).
Now we move on to the concrete phase: the implementation of the project. Now that everyone’s roles have been defined, resources identified and deadlines set, it is time to follow the project action plan you established in the previous step.
Produce the expected deliverables on time. Organise project monitoring meetings with your collaborators to review the project’s progress on a weekly basis, address any blocking points and find solutions.
In order to ensure that your projects are running smoothly, you need to set up key performance indicators (KPIs). Just like when you drive your car to a specific destination, you need to know if you have enough fuel to keep going, how fast you are going, when to shift gears, etc.
So KPIs are essential to help you manage your project. They give you a quick overview of the state of the project at a given moment. This precise information enables you to assess the current situation and take the appropriate decision. Indicators also allow you to compare the forecast with the actual, and thus to better plan your next projects. There are indicators for cost, time, quality and efficiency.
5. Closure and review
Once the project has been completed, it is time for the closure of the project, an important step which should not be neglected. This phase allows the project to be officially finished, the collaborators to be released so that they can move on to other projects and the project to be assessed.
It is checked that the project has been delivered to the client and that the client is satisfied. Check that all problems have been solved and that all invoices have been paid. We take the opportunity to update and archive the documentation which can be used as a basis for similar projects. Finally, the project is reviewed to assess and understand what worked and what didn’t, and to identify lessons learned.
Finally, don’t forget to thank your team for their hard work and celebrate the end of the project together.
To manage your projects effectively and encourage collaboration within your teams, do not hesitate to use adapted tools such as the Wimi project management software.