Project Skills: 5 Simple Steps to Delivering an Effective Project

No matter your role on a project, whether you’re a seasoned project professional or just starting out in project delivery, there are 5 key steps you can follow to increase the success of your projects and maximise the value you deliver.

You’ll start off on the right foot, remain in control throughout the delivery process and importantly, when you follow these 5 steps, you’ll complete your project with satisfied stakeholders and a happy you.

Step 1: Know your customer’s pain point

Be clear on why your stakeholders want or need this project.

What problem are they currently experiencing? What is the problem preventing them from doing, and what they will expect to be able to do because of the project?

Always ask if there’s something specific the project solution needs to include or must be able to do, show, or have.

To implement this step effectively, you’ll need to get clear on the difference between project pain points and project needs.

Step 2: Find out who your project will impact  

Beyond the main owners or users of the project’s change, it’s important to find out who else will be impacted. It’s the people we hadn’t considered who can cause our projects the biggest problems and the way to overcome this, is to engage the right people on your project from the start.

To find the people your project will impact, manage their requirements and mitigate risks, there are two, simple questions you can ask:

1. Will my project change how someone / people do their work?

The change might be slight, or major, and could range from your stakeholders needing to use a different folder name to access information to them completely changing their role and requiring re-training.

2. Will someone need to contribute time and/or resources to help deliver your project?

While people in this category may or may not be impacted by question #1, they will definitely need to contribute information, governance, decisions, budget, staff, resources, or direction at some or at every phase of your project’s delivery.

Once you know who these resources are, and how they’ll be impacted, the project needs to take their needs into consideration and communicate clearly to reduce any risks.

Engage early, and let them know:

  • The purpose and intentions of the project
  • What part you need or would like them to play and why the project relies on their engagement
  • What you will need from them and when you require their engagement
  • Who they can contact if they need help or answers

Step 3: Make sure your team is equipped for their role

Ensure that each member of the project team understands their role: what they are expected to do, who measures their success and how their success is measured.

Does everyone have access to the right knowledge, tools, and people to be able to deliver on their commitments? Where do they go to ask for help or support? What is the grievance process?

And if you really want to take your team’s influence to the next level, soft skills are critical to success.

Step 4: Doing the work, measuring progress and implementing improvement

To avoid the team issues like bottle neck of requirements on the work, over engaging stakeholders on similar project matters or issues on conflicting work priorities, your team needs to take a united approach on how the work will get done.

Once the process is set for doing the work, create check points to measure what you’ve done so far.

Projects should measure against:

1. Commitments: This requires teams to have an active plan outlining lower-level tasks to achieve the scope and a scope document that tangibly outlines how the project will solve the stakeholders Why? (aka: a problem statement).
2. Team progress: addressing things such as efficiency, effectiveness, customer satisfaction, communications and defects.

Anything that is or could in future stop the project team achieving its commitments, should be actively addressed as a risk (ideally within the project risk register).

Any issues around team progress should be seen as a learning. Continuous improvement only happens when you keep a record of what you’ve learned so you can implement it into future project phases and other projects.

Step 5: Make sure the outcome is valuable even after you’ve finished

Imagine your project is like a circus, in the good fun value add kind of way. What lasting impression will you leave the locals when the circus leaves town?

Will they rave about the experience and the value of what you have delivered? Or will they be spending their time trying to clean up after you and finding where you’ve hidden all the essential items?

Successful project handovers are important.

If you’re introducing a new capability, ensure your stakeholders have the skills, information and access to use it. If you’re offering post-delivery support, make sure stakeholders know the support terms.

Finally, get your stakeholders confirm in writing that you’ve delivered to their agreement commitments and expectations.

Don’t be afraid to hear negative comments. If you have dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s then you have nothing to worry about. But if there’s a problem, you’ll be able to do what you can to improve the situation with current project stakeholders – and you can learn from it!

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