If you have a task to complete, such as launching a new product, you will want to keep a tight handle on project costs and be able to work to a realistic timescale.
Delivering a project on time and on budget is a challenge, but there are ways to ensure that everything stays on track and you don’t overrun on the budget.
Here are some tips on how to successfully manage your next project and tick all the boxes with the minimum of stress, including why attention to detail is a good thing, how to avoid scope creep, plus why regular testing should help keep your project on track.
It’s all in the detail
A good pointer when you are starting to put everything together and collate the information and specifics for your project would be to aim at setting a baseline for change control so that you have a better chance of accurately estimating all the resources and materials you are going to need.
The more detail you put into the project management schedule and list the more chance you will have of anticipating any potential issues that could affect the total cost or when the task is completed.
Strict change control is key
If you are not familiar with the term scope creep, it would be good if you didn’t experience it first hand, as it is used to describe a scenario where the scope of the project seems to get bigger without your remuneration keeping pace.
If you don’t take steps to control scope creep there is every chance that you could find your project going beyond your original estimates, which can soon turn out to be detrimental to your finances as well as put your original timeframe out of sync.
Whether you are costing the price of wire mesh for a building project or negotiating the cost of materials for a new product launch, the same rules of engagement apply, which is to have a system in place where any changes in project scope have to be approved.
A project management team has to perform as a team and not a collection of individuals working together.
A proven way of ensuring that all the components of your project come together is to assign tasks and responsibilities to specific members of the project management team so that everyone understands what they have to do.
Giving people specific duties helps to ensure that there is no overlap and less chance of miscommunication, which can quickly see specific deadlines missed without that all-important teamwork and assurance that everyone knows the role they have to play in getting to the finish line.
Keep on testing
It would not be a good idea to wait until you are getting near to the end of your project to run some tests on whether everything is as it should be.
Experienced project managers are likely to universally concur that testing is one of the best ways to discover and correct any potential errors at the earliest possible stage. Identifying any mistakes or problems as quickly as possible will help you to put things right or change your plans slightly before costs get any higher.
It is also a great way of encouraging your project management team when they can see tangible results for their efforts and can actually witness progress being made.
It’s amazing how raised morale and a spirit of positivity can increase productivity and focus, so keep on testing at regular intervals.
A flexible approach pays
At the beginning of your project you will have written down all of the various tasks and components that need to comes together in order to get to the finish line, but it is never a bad thing to be a bit flexible about how the project develops, within reason.
Sometimes you have to be willing to make certain adjustments in order to accomplish the desired end result and arrive at the end within the budget you set at the beginning.
There are almost always going to be scenarios and hurdles that you can’t always predict when you are costing a project out and putting it all down on paper. If you are prepared to allow yourself a bit of freedom to make some changes where they are needed, that flexibility will often pay dividends.
About the author
Jennifer Richards works as a projects manager and shares her tips on meeting deadlines and coming in on budget. Her articles appear on a range of business blogs.