Wednesday, July 20, 2011

5 Steps to Successful Projects


Projects usually fail because they overreach. 

Projects are chosen by management and are always aimed at either solving a problem or at creating profit. In both cases, management prefers that the project be good, fast and cheap. The initial problem/opportunity is defined and the goals for success are then determined. Here is usually where the trouble starts.

You see, once we start listing problems/opportunities, the list can get pretty long. People start pushing their favorite ideas and more bells and whistles get added to the project. Slowly the scope of the project begins to grow out of control. 

Now, every project manager wants to be a hero. He wants his project to come in early and under budget. This is good because it means he will be a more creative problem-solver (hopefully) and will be much more vigilant over the money (ideally). The problem isn't with the project manager, its with the original scope of the project.

Instead of creating monstrous projects with insane timetables, instead borrow from the Agile software development philosophy which advocates many, short development cycles instead of a single long cycle. Pick one specific problem/opportunity and nail it. Don't try to boil the ocean with your projects, just take your problems/opportunities one at a time. Focus on delivering a minimal viable product which you can roll out quickly.

So, the five steps to successful projects are:

  1. Stop overreaching. 
  2. Focus on one problem/opportunity at a time.
  3. Develop your solutions quickly with a minimal set of bells and whistles.
  4. Get it into the hands of the people and let them tell you how to make it better.
  5. Move on to the next problem/opportunity. 


If you need help managing your projects, give me a call (305) 423-9574








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