Project management practical guide — Part 2

Project management: Execution & Closure

In the first part of this guide, we learned to initiate the project management process and how the right tools and techniques help in better planning of the project

For the second part, we’ll learn about the other two phases of the project management lifecycle, i.e.

  • Project Execution & Monitoring
  • Project Closure

We’ll also discuss a few tips on how to get closer to finishing a project on schedule without changing your budget

Step-3. Monitor and measure project progress

#1. Schedule regular meetings to check on project progress

Be it weekly or bi-weekly, as a manager you should set up a progress tracking meeting with your team to evaluate the overall progress and understand any blockers. It is also equally important to set up one-on-one at regular intervals with each team member to understand his/her progress or issues, update them on the areas of improvement and acknowledge them for any good work they did

#2. Mitigate risk(s)

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

— Benjamin Franklin

With all the plans laid out properly, we often develop a mindset that what could possibly go wrong here? Well, you can never be sure about that

Here are a few examples and probable risk mitigation plans:

  • You missed analyzing external dependencies because of which you cannot deliver what was committed and you failed to meet the deadlinePlan tasks in collaboration with the team and always add some buffer time while estimating tasks
  • Your lead or designer or any team member quits the job. Who can immediately start taking a KT from the person? How soon can you hire a new person?
  • The client rejects all the progress and asks for a significant change last minute. Come up with a basic version of the idea to get the work done in limited time and propose to implement the complete requirements in the next version
  • Any team member goes on an unplanned vacation or falls sick. Who would be the backup resource to continue work?

Risks can be related to people, processes, or technology. The best and the only way to handle risks is to anticipate them in advance

For every plan and action item in the project, as a manager you should be able to see the good, the bad, and the worst outcome

Make sure there is time allocated for undiscovered work and develop a contingency plan accordingly

#3. Adjust the plan if necessary

Once you get started with the actual work, you must be ready for all sorts of changes and modifications in your plans. Don’t badger, don’t berate. Be open and listen to what your stakeholders and team have to say and then decide what needs to be done to keep things on schedule and budget

#4. Ensure effective communication

Communication is the key to success. You must ensure proper and timely communication:

  • Firstly, within the team for any change of plans, new work assignments, or changes in leadership. Keep the team in the loop and share frequent status updates
  • Secondly, with all the stakeholders involved internally for any risks, you see related to the scope of work or cost or time or resources
  • Thirdly, with the clients by giving regular demos, updating work progress and informing in advance about possible delays and blockers

#5. Keep motivating the team

Appreciate your team’s hard work on every achievement they make. Promote an open environment for your team to consider their voices in decision making, give them their due credits, and have empathy towards an individual’s personal commitments and professional desires

A happy team will always be more productive

Step-3.1. An added tip: Keep track of S, Q, C, T constraints

#1. Learn to say NO

Sometimes you just need to inform people that you are short on time or the team is matching the set deadlines and any additional work will lead to delay

#2. Periodic reviews against set deliverable standards

Keep reviewing the tasks for milestones, quality, and team member’s individual contributions

#3. Prioritize tasks

Prioritize your work. Don’t procrastinate on important tasks. It helps to quickly see the progress and helps you to not be overwhelmed with all the backlog. Check these techniques here on how to prioritize work

#4. Delegate work

Don’t hesitate to delegate your work if you are overloaded. Your job is to get things done so you are not expected to do all things on your own

Step-4. Close the project

You are done with the project, give kudos to your team first!

Once you finish the project an official closure process must happen. It is a process to get sign-off from the customer. This helps internally to release resources and manage organization finances for the project

Few tips here:

  • Always store your learning of the project so you can use it for any future references
  • Keep a retrospective meeting with the team to understand what all went good, bad and what can be done to improve

Step:4.1. An added tip: Celebrate and Appreciate

Lastly, it’s time for a celebration! Appreciate your team members for their hard work, give the due credits to your star performers and party. You just finished your project

Every project is unique. Different domains have different requirements. But the process to organize and manage the tasks and team remains the same. Unless we have some structured approach and well-laid plans, it becomes hard to achieve those goals

Happy project management!

This article was originally published by me on Medium

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot

Surbhi Mahnot is the owner of this blog. She works as a Management Consultant with businesses to set up processes, and coordinate as Project Manager to help develop IT solutions. Travelling, reading, and shopping are her core interest besides work. Surbhi is available for consultant projects full-time, part-time, or remote work

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