Surviving Implementation: 3 Ways to Keep Your Project on Track
Remember that fictitious business project we started a few weeks ago? Happily, it’s going through the project management phases with ease. So far, our Project Manager (PM) has helped us complete the Initiation phase, where the groundwork for success was set by establishing stakeholders, lines of communication, and more. Next, we stormed through the Plan & Design phase, during which goals were established, resources were selected, and everything was boiled down into an actionable project plan.
That brings us to the third phase of the project management lifecycle: Implementation. Luckily for our Project Manager, this is the part where she gets to kick back and relax while everyone else does the work. After all, the foundation is done, the project plan is set – what else is there to do but wait for the wrap-up call, right?
Not so fast. If we want that fictitious business project to come in on time, on scope, and on budget, our Project Manager still has quite a lot of heavy lifting to do.
Keeping project teams on the same page
We spoke with several members of Arraya’s Project Management Office (PMO) to find out more about their role during the Implementation phase and how they help lead projects to the finish line.
- Executing project strategies – During Implementation, the PM essentially steps into the shoes of an orchestra conductor. Everyone involved in the project knows what part they must play and they’re an expert in that position. However, someone with a big picture view is needed to keeping everyone pulling together. That’s where the PM comes in. PMs coordinate the tactical movements of the various pieces, steering everyone around possible obstacles, such as business politics, supply delays, technical/mechanical issues, etc.
- Communicating progress – No one likes being kept in the dark. This is especially true of organizations who have undertaken a project, regardless of size. They want to know where things stand, and they want to know how that aligns with the project plan. It’s up to the PM to ensure customers have timely access to that information. This is true when the news is good and it’s true when the news is bad.
- Managing schedules – Whether the project involves two people or twenty-two people, the potential exists for scheduling conflicts. PMs must monitor the schedules of resources involved to guarantee availability as the project progresses. Beyond that, there’s also the project plan itself to consider. If this schedule does not accurately reflect the tasks and time needed to complete the project, the team will run into difficulties. PMs must account for any delays – and adjust the project plan to accommodate them.
Mini case study: Repairing communication breakdowns
Organizations of all sorts love talking about the “lines of communication.” As we’ve already mentioned, in projects, PMs are the ones hanging those lines. Once they’ve been established, PMs also must maintain them. If something isn’t working, PMs must be ready to fix it.
One of our PMs encountered a situation like this during the Implementation phase of a recent project. After sending a few status updates, she detected the customer was struggling to follow along with the project plan. As soon as she noticed the issue, the PM took action.
She worked with the customer to determine exactly what they needed from her in the way of communication and adjusted her technique. By staying in tune with the customer, this PM spotted the confusion early. Then, she engaged with the customer and made the changes needed to clear things up for them.