Welcome to Andrew's BlogThis blog aims to share Project Management Best Practices, Lessons Learned, and Many More!!!!
When a project is ongoing, different teams work on the project for completing it on time and during this process they learn a lot of lessons. Generally, it is a practice that project management lessons learned are captured during the project and discussed at the end of the project.
However, what is most important is that one is capturing those lessons learned so that they can be integrated when required or used by any other team member of the project for implementing them successfully. Hence, it is utmost important that a lesson learned during a project is captured effectively.
Yes, the buzzword here is that if the lesson learned during the project is captured then are they captured effectively?
Reasons behind not effective capturing of project management lessons learned
There are many reasons that lead to not capturing of the lessons learned or even if they are captured they are not effective later on. Such reasons are
- Lack of support from management
- Lack of time to capture those lessons learned.
- Lack of resources for capturing them.
- Improper guidelines that do not give clear direction for capturing the lessons.
- Lack of processes that will make capturing effective
- Inadequate knowledge bases that can store project management lessons learned and use them for further references.
It’s true that when a team starts working on any project they always have the intention of capturing what is going on. However, what becomes a hurdle in between capturing them are any of the reasons mentioned above. Moreover, most of the time these lessons learned during the project are recorded when the project closure is nearby. Team members sit together to remember what had happened and capture them! In the meantime it is found that most of them have forgotten a lot of details making the whole thing incomplete. It is possible to capture lessons learned in this way when the project is of short span. Say if the project is of one week or so, the team members will remember almost everything they have learned during the process.
In case of projects with long span of time it is necessary to capture the project management lessons learned as and when they occur. This is because as members move on with experiences they may forget what they had leaned at the beginning. Hence it is better to track things as and when they happen. Like consider the following
- What was learned about dealing with a project in general?
- What were the things to learn about communication?
- What was learned about budgeting?
- How was procurement done and what was learned there?
- How the sponsors dealt with and what were was learned from such dealings?
- What does customers relationship taught during the project?
- What was learned from everything that went well?
- What was learned from the failures faced during the project?
- What were the things that needed to be changed?
Keeping these basic things as base, a project manager should capture in more details about the ongoing project management
Subjects to be captured from lessons learned
As already mentioned while a project is progressing it is necessary to capture lessons as and when they are learned. When situations like quality defects, risks, vendor issues or change requests are tracked when occurred you can track them fresh.
Compiling all the information tracked during the process will help in preparing a comprehensive lesson learned that will be useful for future reference.
Others areas that are worth capturing in details on any ongoing project are
- Allocation of resources
- Estimating cost and budgetary control
- Quality planning and managing the quality
- Resolving issues and the process followed for that
- Team performance or team work during any issue
- Identifying the stakeholders and managing them management of communication.
- Status reporting
- Identification and management of risk
- Managing vendors by planning procurement
- Change management process.
You need to be specific while capturing these project management lessons learned.
After getting information on all these and capturing the lessons your work is not complete. It is just recording of the lessons. Now, it’s time to manage them in such way that each team member finds it relevant for their use. Also if the lesson learned from a project completed earlier is compared to one completed recently, one can understand that whether the team is developing by learning from their mistakes. This will help in improving everybody with every new project.
If you listen to any success story you will find that they are successful as they have learned from past and implemented in future. Thus just moving on to the new project will not help someone develop themselves. It is necessary to capture those lessons learned and implement them. The captured lessons should be preserved so that one does not fall in the same pitfall that they had earlier!
When I started my journey with project management I was not even aware of the fact that what effective and efficient project management was? I knew about planning, budgeting and controlling things but had no idea what PMP® (Project Management Professional) was! I was a ‘tabula rasa’ especially when it came to Project management certification!
Knowing About Project Management Professional
In the beginning of my career, I was attracted by the project management. The ideas of managing a project from A to Z, of having the big picture of all activities done within a project and how they interact with each others, of building team spirit with a great motivation to achieve a project objective, all of this passionate me and pushed me to learn more and more on how to be successful in managing a project.
I heard by PMP® certification. It stands for Project Management Professional certification that will allow me to learn about project management methodologies, processes, and best practices, and to become recognized globally as a project management professional. Thus, the journey started when I joined the UK chapter of Project Management Institute.
Earning Project Management Hours
In order to apply for the PMP® certification, a project manager needs to have a four years degree and 4,500 hours of experiences as a project manager (or member in a project team).
This project management experience must have been accrued within the eight consecutive years prior to the Project Management Professional application.
Just working will not complete the whole process. You need to submit verifications from the managers under whom you have worked.
Tips For Studying And Boot Camp
Before attending any boot camp, it is necessary to study. Otherwise someone who goes there without studying will miss out things and will need more time to understand what is going on.
I searched for a training company who deliver PMP training course. There are many, but rare are those who prepare participants effectively and efficiently to pass the Project Management Professional exam in the first attempt.
The important criteria for selecting a training company is that it needs to be a PMI Registered Education Provider. It guarantees the compliance of the training with PMI requirements.
A member of the PMI Chapter recommends to me to pursue the PMP training with Management Square.
I was impressed by the Project Management Professional Training they provide: the competencies of the trainer, the high quality of contents, …
For preparing the exam, I used the 5 simulation exams and practice tests to
- understand how the questions are asked and framed, and
- know about each process and what will be the inputs, tools and techniques, and output.
Once prepared, it’s time to sit for the exam.
Applying And Studying
By signing up at PMI website one can easily fill the application form and apply for the PMP® credential. While filling the application you need to document all projected hours and I too did that. Filling all details of the project done is quite tedious and it took much of my time so you must be prepared to face that.
After filling I waited and got their email that my application was received.
I paid my exam fee and I was not audited. Once my application accepted, I had about one year to appear for the test.
Participants who are member of PMI gets a discount in the examination fee thus before paying for the application it is recommended that you become a member, like I did.
This will allow you to have access to the PMI standards and webinars.
The exam is a MCQ with 200 questions, of which 175 are scored questions. The remaining 25 questions are pretest questions and then unscored.
The allotted examination time is 4 hours. It means that I had 1’12 minute to answer a question.
Following are the tips I used for the exam:
- Read each question twice to understand them properly.
- First get relaxed and then start working on the questions.
- Most of the questions will be tricky but what I need to do is not assuming anything myself. Just I concentrate on the fact that was in front of me.
- Eliminate the incorrect answers.
- Mark questions for reviews when I was not sure. It allows me to review all marked questions before submitting the exam results.
- Go through each answer repeatedly. Although I may know some answer it is better that I judge all of them as many questions may have more than one correct answer. I choose always the best one.
So it was over and it’s time to get the result. There were some questions to get survey of the testing center and answering those was toughest for me as I was waiting for my results. After completing them I found my result and Yes, I passed the PMP® in my first attempt.
It’s true that every project has its unique objective and the purpose of one project is not similar to another. They vary from each other in terms of cost, magnitude, purpose and timeline, yet all of them have some common features and if you can explore the lessons learned from one project you can utilize them in another perspective, provided that the circumstances permit you to do so.
Thus, here are some project management best practices that have been learned over the years and can be utilized for years to come.
Best practices of project management
- The team members should be dedicated towards the goal of the project. It is the skills and strengths of the individuals involved at any project that will decide whether a project will be a successful one or not. All of them must be motivated to achieve the project goals.
- The project manager plays a vital role as he or she should have enough knowledge about their team members. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each member will equip the manager for handling any work by assigning the right task to the right person.
- There is huge difference between a champion team and a team of champions! While the former will lead to a successful project in the latter one ego conflicts will stop the team from achieving the project goal.
- It’s necessary to know who are the decision makers. Although such individuals may not be available always but having communication with them will always pay off positively.
- Do not expect that top managers will always spoon feed you, rather utilize your own knowledge and skills to complete any assignment assigned to you.
- There is no tomorrow in project management. It’s necessary to take action as soon as possible, obviously after judging all the aspects of the project.
- One should be proactive to their approach. Just being reactive won’t work for long run success.
- When you find that things are not going on as they were planned, one should not take heed behind excuses. Rather work on it and plan out alternatives that will help in completing the work in hand. By blaming, you just welcome hostility. Instead, think how one can make the team work.
- Change is inevitable and be open to it. Sometimes you may find that whatever you have learned over the years of experience is not correct under specific situations.
- Resources are important and hence know about the available resources. Just do not confine to your own team but to those too that are at discretion of others. People love to help others with the hope that they may need it too.
- For reporting purposes, paperwork and documentation are important. However, while making decisions it is important that only data is not considered as they may change over a span of time.
- Give attention to what your customers want. What are the objectives of the project? Before making any significant change you must consult with your customer. Make sure that customers are satisfied with each change.
- Leaders should be respected and their decisions must be followed. If you do not like any idea and feel that you have better ideas, voice your idea. However, still if the action is decided then do not grudge over it instead work hard, as the project objective is most important.
- All known facts must be kept in mind. But do not try to fit them to nay situation. They may seem normal for any situation but it is not necessary that the fact you are thinking about will fit to the
- Take risks. Calculated risks must be taken as although it is true that ships are safe in harbor, but then they are not made for that!
- Make your support line, especially to which you can turn when things go wrong.
- For your advantage it is always important that you use modern technology and time tested skills.
- Do not keep information to yourself only. Share with others who need it. When shared with the right person the information can be utilized properly for making the project a successful one.
- Communication is vital for success in any project. Good communication may stop a failure and convert it into success. Whatever the mistake is, recovery is possible provided that there is proper communication.
- Do not rush into decisions blindly. Prior to decision making it is necessary that everything is judged properly and then decision is taken. Decision taken after proper thoughts and judgment will stop many unwanted circumstances in future.
These are just few project management best practices that will help you complete any project, whatever is the nature of the project. If everything is documented properly for future team reference it will help others too to complete the projects.
So, finally the project is almost over and you are ready to shake hands with the happy stakeholders? After congratulating your project team for successful completion of the project it’s now time to move on. Or there is something that you are missing? Have you captured project management records?
Yes, it is necessary to capture project management lessons learned as they will be your future guidelines when you take up another project of similar nature.
Record it on time and not at the end
In any project, continuous learning goes on, and hence, it is necessary that there must be quick meeting reviews of everything that is going around. When there are regular interval reviews, team members get the boost and the motivation to work on. Moreover, rather than listening to simple tips for better performance, these shared lessons learned become more interesting.
It’s just not a document
The project management records are not just another document related to the project that has to be preserved. Rather it will give insights about the problems that were encountered during the project and how were those problems dealt with.
With a project management records, the project manager can also emphasize on the success during the project. Once you know what were the things that went well, you will be able to know what did not go well. You can get answer to many questions like what are the troubling areas and others that will help you managing your future projects.
Helps in evaluating every stage of the project
Once you have the project management records in your hand, you know that you have got the details of the project. You can discuss with your team members about the different aspects of the project and also put emphasis on things that were useful during the project and find out those that had created a hindrance during the project.
Make lessons learned accessible to everybody
You may share your project management records of lessons learned with your pairs in the company. A great idea is to set up a Project Management Information System which will represent a project management knowledge database.
As a Project Manager, you must have tried every bit to make your project successful and while preparing your resume you must have highlighted your success. Now the question is that have you always been successful while managing the projects?
If you say yes, then you need to think again. Is it really that you have been successful in all your endeavors as a project manager or there have been certain times that made you learn the better way?
There must have been times when you failed to achieve what you should and was unable to fetch a good return on the investment. There may have been small incidences that have affected your projects and these are the stepping stone for success. Yes, every project manager will agree that they have learned a lot from project failures.
Thus, to learn how to be successful in managing projects you need to learn from your failures. Here are certain lessons that will help you manage a successful project.
Adhere to the project schedule
For making your projects successful, the first and most important thing that you must adhere to is the project schedule. It is the responsibility of the project manager to create a milestone chart along with Gantt Chart that will help all the stakeholders to track the progress of the project along with time.
If the project manager is not tracking the progress of the project with the timeline set, then he may miss out any early warnings for completion of the project. Whether the project is of launching a new product or developing a new application, every project must be completed after a stipulated time.
Hence, it is necessary to schedule a timeline for completing each step of the project for a successful project management. While the project is progressing, if you miss out or lag behind time in any of the steps then you can find out the reasons fast and try to recover the lagging in the next step. This way the overall project will be able to meet the deadline, else due to delay in the completion of project there maybe financial loss too.
Thus, for being successful in managing projects make sure there is a practical schedule and you and your team is adhering to it.
The project triangle must always be considered
It does not matter whether you are a top class executive or the project manager, you cannot avoid the project triangle. The three constraints in a project are cost, time and scope and if one side of this triangle is affected others will also be affected. Actually just the way you cannot change one side of any triangle without affecting the other sides same way if there are any changes in any of the constraint there will surely be change in other constraints too.
Suppose you are working on launching a new product. You must have deduced the steps that will help you complete the project successfully. The scope must have been discussed earlier, but after completing the framework of the project you can finally complete the first side and that is scope of the project. After doing that you must have scheduled the project and have made timeline. Thus, you have drawn one side of the triangle, time. Next based on all this, the cost will be budgeted and the third side is also made.
While you are progressing towards completing the product launch, you suddenly have to manage many Change Requests. Each Change Request needs to be analyzed, estimated, and accepted or rejected through a CCB : Change Control Board which regroups the project manager, the technical leaders, architects, and work packages managers. The estimation of the change request indicates the scope’s impact, needed time to implement it, and the corresponding additional cost.
Project heroics only lead to project failure
Heroic deeds are for movies only; if you try them in your project the result may not be similar to what you see on the movies. If someone thinks that he can do magic while completing the project, try to avoid such people during the project. he will lead to confusion that will delay the project delivery or the project completion.
Any project can be completed successfully only when the members of the project work as a team. You can expect to have better results with a better coherent team.
Thus, try to make a project team more co-operative and having trust on each other.
These are just some ideas that will help you in successfully managing projects.
The key to successfully complete a project is to from your previous project management failures.
Every business operates with their own unique techniques, and while functioning they undertake different projects that help them accomplish the organization goals.
Before going to the term, “project management” it is important to understand what actually a project is?
A project is not a routine operation of any organization; it is temporary in nature and has specific beginning and end. As a project have specific requirements, thus a project manager needs to define clearly the scope and requirements of the projects he manage.
With particular set of operations that aims in achieving a specific goal a team is set. They are brought together with the aim of achieving the goal and completing the project. They mat sometimes even from different territories and also from different organizations too.
For different type of organizations, projects can be of different types. Like for a construction company, construction of a new bridge can be considered as a project, whereas for a software company, developing a new application for their client can be a new project!
All of these are to be met within a time frame and well within a defined budget.
To complete the project on time by delivering all the requirements, it is necessary to manage every aspect of the project skillfully and this is where project management comes in.
What is project management?
Project Management thus can be defines as a science of organizing the different components required for completing a project by producing the expected deliveries within the limits of the project’ constraints.
For organizing and managing the project, it is necessary to manage the application of skills, knowledge, tools and techniques that will lead to meeting the project requirements.
It is entrusted to project managers who have the necessary skills for delivering the project expectations and meeting the project deadline within the specific budget. It is project managers who, with their expertise and skill, act as the change agent who will share and distribute every aspect related to the project among the project team member and the organization as a whole.
Components of project Management
A project will be considered successful when it met the goals set within the defined project constraints. For this, the project management must have the following core components.
- Defining the business need and the necessity of the project.
- Analyzing the requirements of the project by specifying the expected results, services or products to be delivered. It is necessary to estimate the required resources and the time period.
- Preparation of the business case study to justify the investment will have positive effects.
- Securing necessary corporate agreements and find sources of fund.
- Developing the project management plan and its implementation.
- Motivating the project team by leading from front.
- Managing different issues related to the projects that consist of risks and changes.
- Monitoring the progress of the projects in respect to the plan.
- Managing the project’s budget.
- Maintaining relationship with different stakeholders and communicating the progress of the project with them.
- Closing the project when it is appropriate (the project delivers the expected requirements, or, closed if it is no longer aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives…).
Project management is performed by applying and integrating the project management processes, which are logically grouped into five process groups.
Processes of project management
The processes of project management fall under the five groups:
At this stage the project is defined with high level specifications and a specific goal, like developing a new product. In this stage the project manager is assigned and provided with a list of project deliveries and the expected outcomes of the different set of activities.
The most important phase in project management as the entire project activities are defined in this stage. After establishing the project scope, refining the objectives and defining the different activities, the project managers estimate the activities duration and cost, and establish the activities dependencies with respect to the project constraints.
Each milestone for the project is set in this stage and then it is decided that how each step will affect the others. The resources required for meeting those milestones are also defined and the cost incurred for the same is also determined.
Even the risks associated with the project are ascertained and the constraint that may arise is also gauged. The whole planning from gathering resources to completion of project is then baselined.
Once the plan for the project is completed, it is time for execution. The project teams are formed and the resources are allocated so that the work is completed within time. The project activities are performed to complete the defined work in the PMP (Project Management Plan) in order to satisfy the project expectations.
Monitoring and Controlling
The most important tasks while managing a project!
During the project lifecycle, the project manager need to monitor every phase and compares the actual status with the planned one. If there are any deviations then corrective actions are also taken.
Finally, the project closing activities are undertaken to finalize all activities and to formally close a phase or a project. Lessons Learned are then updated (or recorded if not previously written during the project lifecycle).