March Madness is here! But we aren’t talking about basketball this time. Whether it is budgets being adjusted, end of Q1 deadlines sneaking up (with perhaps the trajectory of not being met), team dynamic clashing, or lack of leadership throughout the project, project madness happens. Just about everyone has experienced some sort of imbalance during a project. Preparation is key, and there are a few main factors that you should keep on the top of your checklist.
Our Final Four for relieving the Madness met during projects:
Get more out of Arrowhead’s Final Four and relieve that March Madness!
- Motivate the Team: Everyone needs a good pep talk every now and then, no matter the “score” of the project, to make sure everyone is active through to the end. Long term projects can cause strain and drain on team members and short-term projects can find team members drifting from the task at hand worrying about what comes next. No matter the project’s duration, create clear objectives, celebrate small wins and establish routine touch points with team members, remembering to use the forms of communication and motivators unique to each.
- Control the Budget: Nothing sinks a project faster than spending more money than you have. Sometimes spending money earlier to accomplish tasks faster is both possible and prudent but you need to make sure you’re tracking the right cost elements. Earned Value Management (EVM), and specifically your cost variance (CV) and Cost Performance Index measurements, will be the key to identifying whether the spend is equal to the value you’ve earned on the project. It’s also important to set project kill criteria upfront so that if that threshold is reached, you don’t continue to throw bad money after good.
- Stay on Top of the Project: This means not only obtaining but providing “meaningful” status on your project. As a PM you must know where to find reliable sources of information and translate that into data that paints an accurate picture of the past, present and future for your project. You can’t manage what you can’t/don’t measure. Make sure your status includes the data that aligns with the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or success criteria that you setup during project planning.
- Have a Contingency Plan: You can hope for the best, but you must plan for the rest. In this case, plan for risks before they become issues to be dealt with. Establishing mitigation plans, or contingencies will help ensure that your project doesn’t spiral out of control. Remember, risks can be positive so make sure and establish contingency plans that capitalize on opportunities.
The true champion of this Final Four is Communication, as there is no better way to stave off project madness. Each of the semi-finalists depends on effective communication which will be integral before, during and after the project. The chance of your project being successful without it would be a bigger upset than UMBC defeating Virginia!
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