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From The Archives: 5 Essential Elements of a Successful Project

Guest Author
By Dawn Chapman Projects come in all shapes and sizes from small, simple ones to larger and more complex projects. Whatever the size or type of project, there are 5 essential elements that you must get right in order to achieve a successful outcome. Whether your project is about improving an existing product or service, managing change or implementing a new system, the same basic considerations are required when managing projects. Get these right and you will manage a successful project. Get them wrong and your project will be thwarted by challenges, issues and problems. In order to ensure that all your projects reach the required level of success, here are the 5 essential elements that need to be included: 1.     Strategic Planning The first stage of any project is to understand the need for the project and what it is trying to achieve. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely,) objectives need to be established along with measures of success and key milestones where progress can be reviewed. Working as an internal project manager will require close liaison with key internal stakeholders and departments to establish their specific requirements and set commonly agreed objectives. 2.     Product Development The variety of activities that are deemed to be projects are wide-ranging and varied, and can include new products, processes and services. The development of any of these needs to be closely linked to meeting defined business objectives and adding value to the organization. The benefits of a project should be well articulated at the beginning so there is a clear link to the success of the project and the impact on overall business aims. 3.     Communication It is vital to sell the benefits of any project to those who will be affected during the project or by the project's final outcome. Implementing a new process requires that end users understand why the project is beneficial and potential buyers need to be convinced by the advantages of new products and services. In essence, communicating the message of why new or different is good will help counteract the typical human reluctance to change. 4.     Resources It is vital to ensure that adequate resources in terms of people, time, finances and equipment are in place. Internally, this could involve the IT department providing the appropriate hardware/software, Human Resources recruiting the necessary people or the Facilities department providing offices or other relevant support. There also needs to be allocated budgets and finance as well as appropriate timelines for project completion. 5.     People No project manager works in isolation. There are many stakeholders involved in a project who all have a specific role to play and who all have a vested interest in the project's success. The key stakeholders who drive projects and help make them a success include: Sponsor: The project sponsor is the person who defines the business objectives that drive the project. The sponsor can be a member of the senior management team or someone from outside of the organization. Project Manager: A professional project manager creates the project plan and ensures that it meets the budget, schedule and scope determined by the sponsors. The project manager is also responsible for risk assessment and management. Project Team Members: These can include subject area experts, members of departments, external professionals and new recruits. Anyone who can offer a positive contribution to the project in terms of their knowledge and capabilities makes a good team member. Including these elements in a project will ensure that the final outcome is a successful one. Dawn Chapman is a consultant at Thales Training and Consultancy. Thales Training and Consultancy is highly trusted by leading organizations in delivering a full range of dedicated training solutions that enable organizations to achieve key business goals. www.projecttimes.com


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