Best practices are favorited methods of doing something by various populations.
They’re the ‘proven’ way of getting thing done well.
In this article we’ll cover the best practices you can incorporate into your project management to set yourself up for success.
The 9 best practices for your project
There are 9 key best practice areas to help deliver a successful project. Let’s look at each in more detail:
1. Define the project life cycle and key milestones
All projects go through 5 distinct phases known as the project life cycle. These phases act as a checklist toward project progress and success.
Check out our blog on the 5 project phases for more in-depth reading.
Here’s an example of how to define a key milestone: during the beginning of your project (the initiation stage), you’ll need to decide on a project sponsor; someone who runs the project and determines whether it meets the business’ needs. Choosing a sponsor is a key milestone, a necessity before moving onto the next steps.
You can plot key milestone progress using monday.com’s milestones tracker and ensure you stay on track.
2. Determine the project scope
The scope of the project outlines what the project will and won’t deliver.
Project scope enables the project manager to estimate the timeline and resources required from ideation to completion.
It’s important to define the scope so that it’s easy to identify ‘scope creep’ (all those small tasks that add up and spend more resources than what was allotted).
The best place to finalize project scope is within the project charter. Teams should set up project charter during the project initiation phase. The project charter captures the high-level project requirements and methods, acting as a guide for stakeholders.
A good project charter brings transparency and clarity to the project and acts as a key reference point during the project lifecycle.
3. Agree roles and responsibilities
Agreeing on roles and responsibilities is a key element to any project. It’s important to know who is responsible for doing what so that team members don’t duplicate or forgot about tasks.
Defining project roles and responsibilities also brings clarity about who makes decisions and who you need to communicate with and when.
A helpful way to record roles and responsibilities is using a RACI matrix.
RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed and defines not just who has the responsibility for a task but also who else you might need to bring into the process.
With drag and drop functionality, monday.com makes building a RACI matrix easy. And automated notifications make sure the right people are kept informed when the status of a task changes.
4. Create a project plan
A project plan is critical, it’s where you match expected work output to resources.
After defining project scope, the project plan is where you ensure that you have enough time, budget and people to deliver it.
21% of projects fail due to resource limitations so it’s important not to skip this step. You’ll need to break the scope down into smaller tasks and estimate their duration to build an overall project timeline. This will help you judge when you need resources.
The best way to do this is by creating a Work Breakdown Structure. With over 200+ customizable templates, monday.com makes this stage easy.
5. Scrutinize project progress against the baseline
Once stakeholders agree on scope and resource requirements, the next top priority is monitoring and controlling project progress.
The monday.com project tracker is super easy to use and totally customizable so you get the data that’s important to you.
Effectively tracking project progress — by noting any changes from what’s expected — is key to keeping everything on track and bringing the project in on-time and on-budget.
Speaking of which, you’ll want to baseline your project, aka clearly defining the project’s starting point. Only 50% of projects have a baseline and, without it, it’s difficult to track progress.
6. Establish a quality assurance process
As the project starts to deliver, it’s important to put in place a way of checking output quality. These checks make sure that your standards, and those of the project team, align with key stakeholder’s expectations.
Initiating quality assurance early in the delivery cycle means there’s time to make adjustments before the volume of work delivered is too great and changing course would spend too many resources.
This is also important when there are dependent tasks further along in the pipeline. You want these tasks to be built upon a quality foundation.
You don’t need to drive your team mad by micro-managing all their work. Focus on those tasks that have the greatest impact on the overall project outcome.
7. Take timely corrective action
If you discover that your project has gone slightly off track or that your idea of quality is somewhat different to your stakeholders, you’ll need to take corrective action.
Corrective action — saving your project from veering off course — needs to happen quickly and usually involves compromise.
If your project is going to run over budget, can you reduce the scope? If planned resources become unavailable, can you extend the project timeline until you find new new resources?
Juggling these trade-offs is a key part of effectively managing the project. Sometimes things can be shifted around in the project team to accommodate the problem but at other times you’ll need to talk to business stakeholders.
Taking corrective action within the monday.com Work OS is easy. Our multiple views — such as timeline, calendar or Gantt — help you effectively present the problem and enable stakeholders to make data-driven decisions to fix it.
8. Agree how to escalate and manage issues
Sometimes during projects, issues arise. Whether it’s a problem within the team, project deliverables, or business stakeholders, you need to have a plan to solve it.
Most of the time, the project manage can solve these issues. But, sometimes, they’ll need escalating to the project sponsor or whomever has overall accountability for the project.Agreeing when and how to involve the project sponsor offers a clear process for managing problems if they arise. This helps issues get resolved quickly and at the lowest possible level, meaning there’s less chance of them growing out of control.
Once a problem’s solved, it’s important to record it as a lesson learned so that future projects don’t face the same issue. Depending on the problem, you might also need to update the project risk register or issue log.
9. Mandate a change control process
Here at monday.com, we know that, despite the best planning, sometimes projects change. But it’s important to make sure those changes are agreed upon and documented, and that extra resources are secured if required.
A well-documented change control process helps keep everyone clear on the agreed changes. And it shows who gave approval for the change so there’s no misunderstandings about it further down the line.
We think change control is fundamental to project success so when we built our template we gave you more than just who made the request, its description and whether it was agreed, and by whom.
You can also record the reason for the change, any additional expected costs and how it changes the risk profile of the task.
Using project management best practices gives your project the best chance of success
n this article we’ve shared the 9 project management best practices we advise for your project.
Projects will remain complex, but making sure you’ve got these things down gives you the best foundation to tackle any challenges that come your way.
For inspiration on where to start, check out our project milestones template.Get started