The Seven Pillars of Project Management

How you manage project execution is a predictor of how well you deliver on the desired outcomes.
Kirthika Soundararajan
March 24, 2022
Blogs
Main Illustration:
Sivaprakash

The Seven Pillars of Project Management

How you manage project execution is a predictor of how well you deliver on the desired outcomes.
Kirthika Soundararajan
March 24, 2022
Blogs
Main Illustration:
Sivaprakash

In This Post

Efficient project delivery is all about getting your ducks in a row. In other words, how you manage the project execution is a predictor of how well you deliver on the desired outcomes.

Project management is a critical part of any business, and it’s important to know how to manage projects effectively. In this post, we dive into what forms a solid framework for effective project management. 

Defined scope of work

The most common roadblock to smooth project management is an ever-expanding scope. However, defining the scope of a project at the beginning and adhering to it can help you deliver on time and deliver well. This, in turn, depends on how well the project manager has understood the requirements and expectations. Defining the project scope helps your team understand what’s ahead and manage their work so everyone can work towards delivering on time.

Effective scope management involves:

  1. Clearly defined deliverables based on the consensus of all stakeholders
  2. Stating upfront the time and resources involved
  3. Defining what extent of changes will be allowed to the project scope and how such changes will be addressed

A sure-shot way to get your scoping right is by basing it on value delivery. To know more about getting your project scope right, check out this post. If you are looking to streamline the scoping part, a statement of work is a great tool to use.

Clear goals and objectives

The goal of a project is its desired outcome. A project can have multiple goals. Goals are high-level and define the outcomes in a broad sense. On the other hand, project objectives are specific and act as a map to achieving the goals. For example, if you are a web design agency, the goal could be getting their website up and running in two months. Some of the objectives could be:

  1. Create and share mockups with the client by Week 3
  2. Get approval from the client in Week 3 and get started on development
  3. Get staging website up and running by Week 5

In short, a goal is what needs to be accomplished through the project, and the objective is the why. And nothing spells disaster more than the failure to establish goals and objectives before kickstarting a project. 

Taking the same example, if the agency struggles with crystallizing project goals and objectives, it could be because:

  1. The requirement-gathering activity is treated as just another item to check off your list. This could be because you don’t have a defined methodology to gather requirements. This means you don’t take the time to truly understand your client’s needs and just go with what they want. Taking a consultative approach with your clients helps you build confidence with them while letting the client solely dictate goals might make them feel you aren’t sure-footed.
  2. You haven’t involved your client when arriving at goals and objectives. This could lead to not asking important questions at the right time and a constantly changing goal post.

Once you have defined the project goals and objectives, documenting and communicating them to all stakeholders is crucial to stay the course. A project charter will come in handy when you want to communicate and reiterate project goals and objectives.

Defined roles and responsibilities

Now that you have defined the project scope, goals, and objectives, it’s time to identify the right team and key stakeholders. These people will play crucial roles in seeing the project through and helping you deliver the desired outcomes.

A steering committee is an integral part of defining roles—this committee helps evaluate progress, value delivery, critical decisions, and ensures realignment wherever required. A DACI (Driver, Approver, Contributor, Informed) framework is a great starting point to define decision-making roles. 

Other handy tools are the stakeholder register and the RACI chart—both define the roles, responsibilities, and accountability of everyone involved.

Unambiguous planning

A solid project plan forms a strong foundation for the entire project. This phase is where you create a roadmap for the project and its stakeholders. It helps to think of a project as a series of distinct phases. Most project management methodologies recommend breaking down the project into logical stages or phases. This is helpful because this prevents overwhelm—when you divide the larger project into smaller stages, you focus on defining activities for each phase and the milestones instead of doing it for the entire project. This means you won’t be staring at an endless list of tasks, activities, and dependencies every time you open your project status reports.

If you’re looking for a starting point to keep things transparent with your stakeholders and team, a project tracker is right up your alley.

Clear milestones

Setting milestones is a great way to get your team as well as the customer’s team to stay invested in the project. Every milestone is something to look forward to, and every milestone crossed is a reason to celebrate and provides a boost of motivation and confidence to everyone involved.

With Rocketlane, you can set and track milestones right within the app. If you run client-facing projects, you can also trigger the in-built CSAT survey for your clients to fill when a milestone is crossed. If you’d like to know more, book a demo with us.

Effective communication

It’s essential to communicate your project plan, goals, objectives, and milestones to everyone involved. A kickoff meeting can help you with clear communication, along with eliminating any misalignment of expectations. An effective communication plan outlines:

  1. Persons of contact: who has to be contacted for specific issues or queries, an escalation matrix, etc.
  2. Communication cadence: how often the project stakeholders will meet, the duration, and the mode of meeting
  3. Communication channels: how each stakeholder on both ends can be contacted - emails, phone calls, meetings, etc.

A project communication plan can help you identify and outline the communication objectives, channels, and points of contact for everyone involved. Another helpful tool is the project status report that you can send regularly and ensure everyone’s on the same page.

Risk management

Like American mathematician John Allen Paulos said, Uncertainty is the only certainty there is. It makes sense then to preempt known risks and have a game plan to deal with them should they arise.

A risk is any event that could potentially derail your projects, cause your timelines to get delayed, affect your budget, etc. Managing risks usually involves the following steps:

  • When you’re clear about the desired outcomes, resources and budget required, and timelines, you can identify potential risks. You can do this by gathering relevant information, and brainstorming with the stakeholders.
  • Next, you use all the information and data collected to perform qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine how your project and its moving parts will be affected
  • Once you have listed all the risks, prioritize them along with your stakeholders
  • Next, formulate a contingency plan for the risks; involve your stakeholders and senior management in this stage
  • Now that you have a plan, bring in the human factor and identify stakeholders who will own various parts of the risk management. This way, everyone knows who to go to should a risk arise.
  • The project manager along with the stakeholders who own the risk management part can then monitor for risk and respond should a risk materialize.

A project risk register is an effective tool that you can use to identify risks and communicate their impact to your project stakeholders.

How Rocketlane can help you ace your project delivery

We built Rocketlane with the objective of redefining project management. If you use multiple tools to run your project: docs, spreadsheets, smartsheets, checklists, emails, messenger apps, and a generic project management tool to top it off, you might want to consider Rocketlane: a single platform that does all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to switch tabs ever again.

Apart from bringing communication, collaboration, and visibility into a single tab, Rocketlane also provides deep insights and data that your leaders will love and will help you refine your project management methodology.

If you’d like a more detailed comparison of Rocketlane against other project management tools, head here.

Further reading

If you found this post useful, here are a few more from us that will help you:

  1. How To Nail Your Project Delivery [Free Template]
  2. Pulling off the Ultimate Kickoff Meeting for an Onboarding Project
  3. The Road to Strategic Resource Management: Resource Tracking [Free Resource Tracker Template]

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Kirthika Soundararajan
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

All things content at Rocketlane. I run on coffee and cat videos. Follow me on Twitter @kirthikasrajan

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