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20 Best Practices in Project Management [2024 Guide]

Practices in Project Management

Project management is the art and science of planning, organizing, managing, and leading teams and resources to achieve a specific goal or objective. With so many aspects involved, it can seem like a puzzle with numerous pieces. Without proper strategies, it’s hard to keep a project moving smoothly and effectively to the finish line.

Those aspiring to become project managers must be well-versed in the best practices to help them steer projects in the right direction. This guide is a compilation of the top best practices in project management. Because best practices are rooted in project management principles and concepts, it would benefit you to strengthen your basics with a good project management certification.

1. Lay the Foundation With a Solid Business Case

Without a well-defined business case, a project can become problematic and difficult to complete on time and within budget. Establishing a business case requires aligning the project with business objectives and long- and short-term goals. You must also consider project requirements, resources, potential obstacles, and workflows.

The business case should address questions regarding the project’s strategic context, potential return on investment (ROI), risks, rewards, and the availability of budget and resources. Key questions to ask when establishing the business case include why the project exists, why it’s needed urgently, what benefits it will bring in terms of cost savings or increased revenues, its likely cost, and how it aligns with overall business objectives

2. Start Strong with a Kickoff Meeting

This is the first meeting where all the stakeholders and team members gather. As the name suggests, this is where the project kickoff happens. The primary objectives of the project and how the stakeholders can The relevance of the stakeholders are discussed. This meeting is where everyone ensures that all the parties have their interests aligned.

This meeting sets the stage for all the parties, where they get to know where everyone’s interests lie. This makes getting there easier as good communication channels are established.

3. Creating a Project Blueprint or Brief

One of the top project management best practices is creating project briefs. It is also sometimes called the project charter. It’s a short, straightforward document that provides an overview of the project and its scope. It gives a bird’s-eye view of the whole project.

It’s useful for getting approvals and ensuring everyone is on board. Remember, it doesn’t need to be a long, boring document but should cover the following:

  • Project name
  • Client
  • Overview
  • SMART objectives (specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic, time-based)
  • Scope
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Metrics to measure success
  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Resources

Following this project plan template can save you plenty of time and help you develop a simple yet solid blueprint for a project.

4. Clarifying Project Scope and Objectives

This is the step where you establish the scope and goals of the project. Making a project scope management plan is the first step. All the parties involved have to approve of it to move forward. Since you are still in the early stages of the project, make sure to define a clear scope statement and a set of objectives. Your scope should address fundamental queries such as project objectives, deliverables, performance standards, and constraints.

5. Establish Quality Standards

The success of a project lies majorly in the quality. It is a set of parameters to be followed, which includes performance, functionality, consistency, and reliability. The project deliverables have to live up to this

Before diving into project execution, establish the benchmarks for the entire project journey.

They must be relevant to stakeholders for transparency and to enhance the likelihood of success.

Here’s how to outline project quality:

  • Break the project into stages with deliverables.
  • Establish quality standards through past project assessments and competitor reviews.
  • Document quality benchmarks and processes.
  • Communicate these standards clearly to all project stakeholders.
  • Complete project quality documentation with relevant data and supporting information.

6. Organize Project Roles for Success

A project’s success lies in the combined effort of all involved. Everyone has a specific role to fulfill in a journey. Simplify the project by identifying, defining, and formalizing these roles.

Ensure that those involved have the essential skills to carry out the project’s needs. There should be legroom for development as well. This way, everyone can contribute to the project in the best possible way.

7. Clear Communication Channels

Ask any project manager, and they will tell you that good communication is one of the best practices in project management. There should be a clear understanding between all parties involved on where the project is in its life cycle. Be it in the planning phase or the execution phase, with a better understanding of the position of the rest of the team, the chances of a successful project are higher.

8. Keep a Tab on Feedback

Every project has some room for improvement. Once you establish a feedback loop, you can make sure you find where there needs improvement and develop effective solutions. This way, the final product is closer to the client’s expectations. This is also effective in ensuring that you do not repeat mistakes. The project life cycle also becomes shorter as there are fewer mistakes and redos on the way.

9. Have a Resource Plan

Everyone is working with limited resources. For a successful project, it’s crucial to correctly evaluate the resources at your disposal and how to use them most effectively. There might be multiple projects that are happening simultaneously. When you have an overarching view of them all, you can be sure to use resources judiciously. You can use software tools such as Kantata, Mosaic, and Saviom for faster resource allocation and management.

10. Keep a Risk Response Team Ready

No project is without risk. So, it is prudent to be ready with a contingency plan to meet the problem when it arises. It is normal for projects to meet with obstacles that can cause delays in project delivery and use more resources. With the help of an active risk response team, a project manager can easily handle such situations. A set of risk management practices can help mitigate such situations.

11. Manage Opportunities Well

As much as there are risks to projects, there are opportunities as well. Some instances can arise which help you cover more ground regarding work. This way, you may find yourself ahead of time. This adds value to the project. Make sure to keep an eye out for such opportunities.

12. Be Transparent

Transparency is one of the best practices in project management. The team and the stakeholders must be aware of the workings of the project at every stage. Otherwise, it hampers progress and negatively impacts team dynamics.

For instance, agile teams are more efficient because a high degree of transparency is built into the approach. Everyone knows what is happening and how each task fits into the big picture. This allows team members to collaborate more effectively.

13. Have a Plan for Change Requests

Changes can come in the way of even the most well-planned projects. Stakeholders might have a new requirement, or there can be shifts in the project scope. This is called scope creep, one of the main causes of cost overruns and missed deadlines. A study by the Project Management Institute found that scope creep causes nearly half of the projects to go over budget. Experienced project managers keep a change management plan in place to tackle scope creep and prevent the project from going off the rails.

14. Keep Track of Everything

Have you ever witnessed a project task delayed by days or weeks? You must rely on evidence to understand why it happened and prevent future occurrences. Besides having a big-picture view, tracking every moving part is vital.

Tracking every aspect of your project is a powerful strategy for gathering the necessary data to make informed decisions and learn from past hurdles. Capture project steps, identify bottlenecks, record scope changes, and note task dependencies. Having your eyes on even a small detail, like a stakeholder paid time off (PTO), can prove invaluable.

15. Documentation is King

Keeping a detailed log of every event in the project is sometimes one of the best practices. It is a great way to bring anyone up to speed on the project. You can also use it to explain every decision taken. This can literally work as a log for future projects as well. This way, others can learn from your experience, and you can find patterns that can be mended to make things more efficient.

While keeping project documentation is critical, don’t let it take your eyes off the bigger picture.

16. Stick to Realistic Timelines

Everyone aims to outdo their competition, but sometimes, project managers set unrealistic goals. They often agree to deadlines or features that are almost impossible to achieve because clients want things done faster. However, this harms the project and the team.

Even if you meet these crazy expectations by working late nights fueled by caffeine, it’s not a good idea. Exhaustion hurts the quality of your work and demoralizes your team.

Effective project managers understand their team’s limits and, when necessary, stand up to clients. It’s about balancing pushing boundaries and ensuring everyone stays productive and motivated.

17. Measure Performance for Continuous Improvement

One of the oldest and wisest practices in project management is learning from your past experiences. Exceptional managers consider this practice a must-do. They organize meetings where team members openly discuss what went wrong in the project and brainstorm strategies for improvement.

This practice benefits the team and provides you with an opportunity for personal growth. As a project manager, it helps you identify team members who might benefit from specific training to boost their project management skills for future projects.

18. Ensuring Clarity with Updated Agreements

When new requests come in, they often mean changes to the project’s original plan. In such cases, it’s a smart move to have everyone involved sign a new agreement.

This step ensures that stakeholders fully understand the updated scope of work and how it affects the project. By creating a documented agreement, you can avoid confusion if deadlines or other aspects of the project need to be adjusted. It also documents where the delays occurred and who takes responsibility.

19. Conduct Wrap-up Meetings Too

Completing a project is in itself a success. However, you must conduct wrap-up meetings as well. This way, you can understand how the project has been performed. You can also find opportunities to optimize your project management strategies. This meeting also brings together all the involved parties again into a discussion. Any discussion can be conducted here to be productive and help make better projects and products next time.

20. Understand People Dynamics for Project Success

Understanding your team’s dynamics and human nature is a must-have for project managers. It can help in effective project and resource management. It provides valuable insights for motivating your team to achieve project objectives.

Part of this awareness includes grasping office politics, which is sometimes necessary. You must negotiate, build connections, and use your influence to overcome project hurdles. This can help you secure key resources or address organizational roadblocks.

Expand your network and increase your visibility within your organization. A politically savvy project manager is better equipped to accomplish critical tasks and ensure project success.

Get to the Roots of Best Practices With a Project Management Certification

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve delved into the top 20 best practices in project management, offering a roadmap to success for aspiring project managers and seasoned professionals. However, the journey toward project management excellence doesn’t end here; it begins with a strong foundation.

Best practices are firmly rooted in project management’s fundamental principles and concepts. To truly excel in this dynamic field, it’s essential to strengthen your basics. That’s where a project management certification comes into play.

By enrolling, you’ll enhance your understanding of core project management principles and gain practical insights, tools, and techniques that can significantly elevate your career. Whether you’re looking to kickstart your journey or take your existing skills to the next level, a certification can unlock new opportunities and help you become an outstanding professional.

FAQs

1. What are the best project management practices?

Best project management practices encompass proven techniques and methods that ensure project success.

2. Why use best practices in project management?

Utilizing project management best practices enhances efficiency, mitigates risks, and increases the likelihood of successful project outcomes.

3. What are the steps in project management practice?

The typical project management steps include initiation (defining objectives), planning (developing comprehensive plans), execution (implementing plans), monitoring and controlling (tracking performance), and closing (completing the project and assessing success).

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