Successful Project Management - Eight simple steps to follow

1. Get management and stakeholder commitment

In the first instance, you need to have the real commitment of management and stakeholders -- the people who will benefit from the project. Be sure that your project has a sustainable business case and that it can deliver real business benefits, so understand both its business and technical objectives.

2. Define scope, goals and objectives

The scope of a project defines what business areas and processes will be affected. Define it clearly and communicate it to all stakeholders. To avoid any doubt, do not be afraid to say what is not in the scope. Once defined, manage the scope carefully to avoid "scope creep," or widening of what the project will cover.

3. Have a written plan

The best way to manage your project is with a written plan. Any project over about one week's duration or involving more than one person needs one.
A plan describes:

• How the project will be broken up into phases
• What tasks will be carried out in each phase
• Who will carry out each task
• How long each task will take
• When each task will start and finish
• What will be the deliverable or end product of each task
• What the overall project budget is

4. Manage project resources and encourage team working

A typical project involves lots of people, including end users or customer staff, technical staff, administrative and financial staff, consultants, contractors, suppliers, external advisors and outside agencies. The attendant relationships create additional dependencies and risks that you need to manage.

5. Manage communications

Maintain good communications within the project team and with the wider group of stakeholders and affected groups. The team must not become isolated from the rest of the business environment or from the ultimate customer and users. If it does, the project might run the risk that users will not accept the final system or product.

6. Manage suppliers and external sub-contractors

Modern complex projects usually involve suppliers, sub-contractors, consultants and other external resources. They create further dependencies and risks. Base agreements with suppliers and other external parties on clearly specified requirements that identify the performance standards expected and the products or systems to be designed, developed, and delivered. Meet suppliers and external parties regularly to ensure that they are performing as expected.

7. Put in effective control processes

Control processes are used to make sure that the project is proceeding as planned and that deliverables meet required standards. Put simple processes in place. Hold regular project meetings -- every week for most projects -- to review progress against the plan. Use a standard agenda. Document and agree key decisions and formally test and accept major deliverables, which must be clearly verifiable and associated with measurable milestones. Establish a regular reporting process both at project team and project board level to provide formal reports on project status.

8. Close the project

Lastly, bring the project to a formal close and advise all stakeholders and participants that it is complete and has achieved its objectives. Put a lot of work into tying up any last loose ends. When the project is finally over, make sure the required support and operational arrangements are in place. Wrap up project documentation and prepare the final project report.