Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Managing Projects

Quite often I come across friends who keep talking to me over a coffee about the projects that they are trying to turn green. Red Projects and Green Projects. Yes, that is what is commonly heard in the industry. Across organizations and various verticals. The common phenomenon is that the height of project management is to manage projects well and maintain them GREEN.
As a Management graduate, my thinking goes little deeper into this issue. Why does projects go red when they are managed by people who are trained and certified in the Project Management. What could be the reasons why project fails? Where are the gaps in sustaining a above average metrics that indicate a project's success.
People and Passion: Ultimately what makes things work is the intellectual strength and technical know how of the people involved. Above all, the fire in the belly. An urge to succeed. Passion to achieve and identifying the best ways to do a work. Team work. Its like a truck of tasks going standstill when one wheel is punctured. Cant afford to have punctured wheels and it is important to replace the same. When does the wheel get punctured, is when the attitude is impossible to cooperate and handle in a team. If someone lacks ina technical skill or a soft skill, they can be trained. But if someone is not inspired to succeeded, its better not to have them in the key roles. Identify people with the fire to succeed even if they are in the botton of a hierarchy and provide them right platform to utilise their talents and this trust makes wonders.
Planning and Execution: Not all plans are usually executed by every word of it. Lot of projects take so much of effort to draft plans and thinking but when it comes to actually execution, things go by the need of the hour. Referring to the plans drafted and utilising experiences will help projects succeeding without reinventing the wheel. It may not be always possible to go by the books, but going by the books will avoid deviations that are unnecessary.
Process and Projects: Process is not one of the last activities not a parallel activity to any project. Process is an integrated effort for a project's success. Processes that are time tested and implemented earlier enrich the usability of available knowledge and identify areas that need concern earlier. Processes though may sound tough and hard to follow, in fact, make life easier when followed. They are like trains running on the defined tracks. As long as Projects run on the set of processes planned, the destination cannot be different from success. Process and Quality should not be the responsibility of just the quality personnel and project managers. Quality should be the watch word for every team member, whose individual deliverable also count to have the required quality, be it the development work or the project documentation.
Persistence and perfection: Every one works. Only those succeed who maintain a consistency in their work. Nothing can be 100% perfect. But aiming it will at least achieve us a near figure of success. When deadlines are set, and things are planned, leaving the fate of the project to the last phase of the time frame and moving slowly at the beginning of the project is a wrong way of handling things. Proactive actions, timely decisions and active participation right from the time, a project is kick started can only make a project successful.
Placing in customer's shoes: Instead of taking advantage of things that do not fall within the Line of Control, it is better to handle things first that are controllable. Nextly it is vital to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think on the ROI. The customer had assigned a task to you, for two things. For he believes in your competency and deliverable. Do continuous reviews of where you stand from your end date and avoid rework.
Analysis and Playing the role of right Project Manager: Question yourself on the work you do. Can you go home today and sleep in peace with satisfaction that you did justice to your 8 hours of work? Did you complete all the tasks you planned for the day? Did you marks things deferred to be tracked for a later date? Do you have self followups in place? If yes, then there is no reason why you should be scared of the colour of your project. Bring in this wave of self analysis within each of your team members. Bring in a sense of accountability and responsibility. Delegation and belief in the strength of your team. Affirmation and planned way of handling things, and maintaining calmness during most difficult business situations will provide you the required mind frame to think. Projects succeed when managers handle things calmly and do not jump into hasty deviating decisions. When they protect the interests of the team and shield them with timely suggestions and do not transfer their burden of handling risks and contingencies to the team, the team will keep doing their best. Appreciation and recognising job well done, and highlighting the same, inspires the people who work hard, and motivates others around.

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