I have been thinking about what might just be the main ingredients of a successful project. But just like you can follow a cake recipe but the cake doesn’t turn out to be quite as good as you expected (or at least mine don’t) so you can follow the rules and methodologies of good project management but still not be able to deliver successful projects consistently. (Luckily I’m better at project management than cake-baking).
So if you’ve got all the right ingredients what are the other factors that need to be taken into account to give a better change of project success?
UNDERSTAND THE BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
Make sure the business objectives are clearly documented and communicated so that everyone is working towards the same goal. And so that everyone knows when you start to drift outside the scope of the project.
LOOK AFTER THE PEOPLE
How well motivated the project team are will have an enormous effect on the final outcome and it is often left to the project manager to do the motivating, but it is, after all, in the best interests of the project and your personal success to do so. So view motivating the team as one of the extra ingredients of the best projects.
EXPECT THE PLAN TO CHANGE
Any project manager who expects, or even hopes, that the initial project plan will never change is not living in the real world. Project plans will always change, and, if they don’t, it is only because the scope and objectives have changed to accommodate the plan.
Whilst it is impossible to anticipate all risks, pro-actively managing tasks and their deadlines and milestones can help you to be aware when there are serious issues looming. You might then have some advance warning to help you mitigate the risk effectively.
Considering these factors does not mean there is no need to follow a standard methodology such as PRINCE2 or APM PMQ but they will serve as a reminder that you can improve your chances of success quite easily with a few extra ingredients.