Successful Project Team with 5 Key Elements
It may appear simple, but it is not. Change is difficult, and initiatives can easily go off the tracks. Every day presents new problems that jeopardize the progress and ultimately successful project team.
When some component of the people’s job has to change, government agencies conduct projects. A project, according to the Project Management Institute, is “a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service, or result.” When a project changes how an organization does business, the project’s end products are incorporated into daily work, improving the organization’s work in perpetuity.
To combat this peril, projects need certain vital elements. With the following items in place, a project has a high chance of success.
- A Committed Project Sponsor
The project sponsor is the person in charge of the project at the highest level of the organization. A dedicated project sponsor expects the project to succeed and does everything in his or her power to guarantee it does.
A project sponsor is responsible for four main aspects of the project. First, the project is championed by the sponsor. He or she publicly and privately supports the project team. Second, the project manager has the support of the sponsor. When a project manager requires support, he or she turns to the sponsor for help since the sponsor has the organizational power to get things done. Third, the sponsor aligns resources by either providing them directly or collaborating with other high-level individuals to obtain them. The sponsor’s peers are more inclined to provide considerable resources when the sponsor is a strong proponent of the initiative. Fourth, the sponsor makes decision-making easier.
The sponsor is kept up to date through the project manager’s frequent communication. They collaborate to determine when the sponsor should intervene and perform his or her obligations more strongly in support of the project manager. A project manager, for example, may have difficulty acquiring information from the organization’s financial department. The project sponsor might discuss the matter with the chief financial officer and request that the task of obtaining the information be prioritized over competing responsibilities.
- Clear Goals and Scope
Before any work on a project can begin, or even be planned, the project sponsor must define the project’s goals and scope. The project’s aims are the key things it’s expected to accomplish. Take, for example, a software enhancement project. Payroll is managed by a human resources department using well-known configurable business software. The company wishes to implement a learning management module. The project’s objectives are to tailor learning management software to the organization’s demands and link it with the existing payroll system.
The project’s parameters are defined by the scope. Using the software project as an example, the scope of this project is confined to implementing the learning management system and integrating it with the payroll system. To understand what is in scope, it is often helpful to establish what is out of scope. Adding additional modules is not part of this project’s scope. The accounting department cannot request billing, accounts receivable, or accounts payable modules from the project manager.
Scope creep occurs when a module is added after the project has been specified. Good project sponsors and managers avoid scope creep and are hesitant to expand scope in the middle of a project. Increasing the scope of a project necessitates more resources, such as time and money. Furthermore, working on the increased scope jeopardizes the quality of work products.
- A Good Project Manager
A project manager organizes resources and plans work to complete a project. This person serves as a conduit between the project sponsor, who establishes the vision, and the project team, which carries it out. The project manager invites stakeholders to provide comments as needed and in a timely manner.
The following characteristics are common among project managers and assist them drive the project forward:
- Project managers are planners. They think about the sequence of work and know what needs to happen after the team completes the task at hand. They make good plans but also know when to be flexible and to divert from a plan.
- Project managers are trustworthy. With their success depending upon the work of others, project managers need people to trust their good intent and competence. Trust is particularly important in the relationship between the project manager and project sponsor.
- Project managers tend to be extroverted because the vast majority of their work involves communicating.
They hold people responsible for their promises. Here’s an illustration. The project manager was told by a project team member’s supervisor that the team member could devote four hours per week to the project. This team member has skipped two consecutive weekly meetings and has made little progress on his work breakdown structure duties. The project manager met with the team member after the first missing meeting to discuss the absence and missed deadlines. The team member stated that he had more important matters to attend to. After the second missed meeting, the project manager met with the team member’s supervisor, who confirmed that this was not the case.
- Engaged Stakeholders
People who have a vested interest in the project’s success but are not part of the project team are referred to as stakeholders. They may not think about the project on a daily basis like the project manager or other project team members, but they do want to be kept informed about important decisions and overall progress toward the project’s objectives.
Stakeholders have their own reasons for remaining informed about project activities, but it is the project manager’s job to bring them into the fold in ways that help the project achieve its objectives. In many circumstances, this necessitates striking a fine balance between too much and too little input. Stakeholders are unable to participate in every decision. That would stymie the effort and turn every choice into a battle. Stakeholders, on the other hand, cannot be excluded because satisfying stakeholders is an important element of practically every project.
- Dedicated Project Team Members
Members of the project team complete the project’s tasks. Frequently, project team members are allocated to a project on top of their regular responsibilities, implying that there is no reduction in other work to compensate for the project’s added workload. Project managers can assist team members in negotiating with their supervisors on this issue, but they have no control over the outside duties that project team members have.
The commitment of team members to the project is really valuable. Without commitment, deadlines are missed and work items are of poor quality. Dedicated team members are motivated to accomplish the project’s goals on time, within budget and up to quality expectations.