Building up a business, setting up an advertising strategy, making production audit-ready – these days we perform many tasks in projects. The quantity, the variance and the conditions for projects are manifold and the demands on the success of a project are high.
Large projects are particularly affected
The larger the project, the greater the probability of failure. Public examples such as the Berlin Airport or the Hamburg Elphi illustrate this.
Checklist for successful projects
In this blog post we give you some tips to prepare your projects successfully. Furthermore, in our next article we will discuss the requirements and challenges within a Process Mining project. To make sure you don’t miss this, sign up for the newsletter here!
Determine hard facts at project start
Before each project start, you should clarify the hard facts within a business case:
1. What are the costs?
What is feasible? What exceeds the scope? Where can you save money? For most projects, the budget is the most important framework factor. Clarifying the costs in advance is therefore the be-all and end-all for successful projects.
2. What is the benefit?
What added value does the project have for the company? Projects that bring little or no actual benefit to the company should definitely be adjusted. Because why spend resources when there is no value in the end?
3. What is the timeframe with deadlines and milestones?
Besides financial resources, time is the most influential factor in project management. These include the following questions: When does the project officially start, i.e. when do resources have to be available? When does it end, by which date does everything have to be completed? What are the important milestones that need to be finalized at each stage of the project?
4. What exactly is the content of the project?
It seems obvious at first, but this question should not be neglected: What do you want to actually work on? Many factors are based on the content plan of the project, such as the allocation of subtasks in the team and budgeting.
5. What is the goal?
While the benefit should express the added value of the project, the goal indicates when the end of the project has been reached. At what point can we say that the project was successful? Setting the goal is an important factor in the timing of the project.
6. What are the risks?
Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Of course, we ultimately hope for the success of any project, but obstacles should always be expected. The evaluation of potential risks should thus prepare the entire team for which of these obstacles may arise – and ideally how they can be solved.
7. How is quality and goal achievement measured?
The end of the project term does not automatically mean the end of the project. An in-depth evaluation of the project results is absolutely vital. However, since it is not always easy to capture the quality and effectiveness of these results, mechanisms should be considered from the outset that can track and evaluate the success, results and obstacles of the project.
8. What materials, software, etc. are required?
No project can function without the right tools. Therefore, it is important that the entire team gives input on what materials (hardware or software) are needed to do the job effectively.
Clarify soft facts at project start
Finally, discuss the following soft facts:
1. Which employees are working on the project?
No matter if it is a solo project, a tandem of two or a major cross-departmental undertaking: The project team must be defined in advance. It is particularly important to select team members in such a way that the collected skill sets can cover all necessary project activities.
2. What stakeholders does the project involve?
Who is affected by the project? These include internal stakeholders such as management, IT, administration and other employees. But external target and dialogue groups are also a priority: customers, partners, subscribers, and, depending on the project, perhaps neighbors, residents, or even the general public.
3. Who is responsible for what?
Workflow and project management tools such as Trello or Agantty can be used to allocate work within the team. The entire team must have clear responsibilities in order to avoid duplication of work and misunderstandings and to have direct contact persons. Of course, the effort should be distributed fairly, equally and according to individual abilities.
4. What is communicated at what time in the project?
It has already become clear in the previous points: communication is the heart of project management. This includes the question of what information is shared within the project team, but also when which stakeholders are informed about certain topics.
5. Are all necessary competencies at hand? Are training courses or similar needed?
Similarly to the question about the necessary materials and tools, the individual training of the team must not be disregarded. No matter how great a software may be – if nobody can operate it, it is an unusable resource. It is thus of great importance to cover the necessary competencies and any associated training in skill areas that are not yet included.
6. Do we need specialists?
Not every skill can always be covered within the team. Sometimes training is too expensive or too time-consuming. In these cases it is a good idea to work with experts outside the core team. These experts can come from your own company or be external specialists. Very important: Specialists have to be paid – the cost plan of the project should take these positions into account.
Finally a Lessons Learned!
In order to record the results and important findings after a project, it is advisable to conduct a Lessons Learned. This helps to better assess the success of the project and to record important experiences for future projects.
The day-to-day business of companies is increasingly transforming into a project-based way of working. To manage this successfully, you need good preparation, a clear structure and well-trained project managers. With the hard and soft facts described here, you will start every project safely and well prepared.