Project Management Tips
There is a lot of literature out there regarding Project Management and tips for success. This article relates that wealth of information specifically to managing projects typical of the Process Industry. Whether that is commissioning a new plant or factory, expanding or modifying an existing one, or procuring and delivering against a contract.
Tip 1 – Do your risk mitigation early
Risk mitigation is the process whereby a multidisciplinary team, including your engineers, project managers, buyers, contractors, management and support staff get together and identify every single risk they can foresee occurring. The purpose of this exercise is to uncover every possibility, however ridiculous or unlikely it might initially appear to be. After a comprehensive list of potential risks have been identified, the team assesses how likely they are to occur. Mitigating actions are put in place or scenario planning is conducted to either prevent the risk occurring, or to develop a plan to move forward if the identified risk does arise.
Tip 2 – Manage the on-time delivery of the project
If a project runs over, not only do you run the risk of damaging your relationship with your valued customer, you can also be faced with contractual penalties such as liquidated damages. Therefore, it is important not just to rely on the claimed expertise of your contractual partners. Request delivery schedules and project management reports from them. A project manager’s role is not just about producing and managing internal reports, it is about collating and monitoring external reports also. Usually it is not an internal problem that will result in a delay, it is an external one, so the importance of this stage cannot be stressed enough.
Tip 3 – Regular review meetings with your team are essential
It is human nature to avoid telling someone bad news. Well-meaning individuals may often try and overcome a problem themselves, without involving their skilled colleagues. By running regular review meetings with your team, where honest updates with supporting evidence is the purpose of the meeting, any potential problems can be caught early. This process adds further value in the form of team spirit – a well-functioning team who feel supported, and can offer support to each other, is essential if a project is to be delivered on-time and within budget.
Tip 4 – Delegate to your skilled project team
A project manager who tries to do everything, is a project manager who won’t get anything done. Behind every great leader, is a bunch of highly skilled, highly effective colleagues. If you cannot delegate because the correct skills are not in place, then get them in place – identify this early and invest in training. A project manager should not be ‘doing’, they should be coordinating individuals who have clear roles, responsibilities and direction.
Tip 5 – Regular, honest and accurate reporting is essential
It must be remembered at all times that there are shareholders involved that most likely have a lot at stake with this project. They will have invested financially, professionally and no doubt emotionally. There is nothing more frustrating for the customer than being kept ‘out the loop’ when there is a problem, or a delay with their project. Although unpleasant at times, bad news is better than no news. A reporting structure should be formalised before the project commences. The customer should be provided with an account manager who is tasked with resolving any disputes or getting answers to any questions the customer may have. A response time should be decided and the specifics of the reporting arrangement should be agreed beforehand (what to report, when to report, how to report…).
There are lot more project management tips and suggestions I could draw upon to make this document more complete. However, the purpose of this article was to focus on those areas which most often cause problems or delays in the delivery of a project. The advice given here is based on project management literature from the Open University MBA Programme, supplemented with practical experience in managing projects.
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