Setting Your Project Up For Success

Setting your project up for success

Project management is a core offering for the DSS team, so it’s no surprise that we get asked how to manage projects successfully.

My usual response: start at the beginning. Successful projects are built on robust plans. Here’s what those plans can look like:

Clarity from day one

It doesn’t matter if you use traditional project management or Agile, you need to know what your sponsor/s want to deliver, what the project goals, deliverables, requirements, time frames, and costs are, and what success looks like for your project.

Building a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed) will help to define the project governance and ensure there is no confusion over who is responsible for what.

Other typical planning activities:

Work breakdown – what work need to be done;
Scheduling;
Budgeting and procurement planning;
Resource planning;
Risk and communication planning;
Quality management.

Once you have enough information, communicate this through a project kickoff, and invite the relevant stakeholders.

Assemble your project team

Build your team based on the skills required to get the job done. This is done by creating a skills matrix to identify the skills and experience the project requires and identifies any gaps. You may need to look beyond your organisation for contractors to fill the gaps.

Hold a kick-off

A kick-off will inform the sponsors, stakeholders and other relevant parties that the project has now officially started, what it is about, its deliverables, and the timelines you plan to achieve. It is typically the first official gathering and should include all relevant people so they all know what is to come.

Gather your requirements

Whether you use a traditional waterfall approach or Agile, you will need to gather your requirements, either in the form of a business requirements document or, for Agile, your product backlog. This information needs to be completed and then broken into work areas, and then the work for each area estimated. From this information, the user stories and acceptance criteria can be defined.

If it sounds methodical, that’s because it is. Good projects are built on step-by-step planning and thorough documentation. In my next post, I’ll explain how to build on these plans and deliver a successful project.

Anthony Moore is DSS’ Client Delivery Director. He has 27 years of experience in programme management, project management, operations, IT infrastructure, data centre management, and IT software development.

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