November 14, 2017

Your Tuesday Top 5: How to Consistently Deliver Successful Projects

Posted by AGU Career Center

Every Tuesday, Patricia Yaya, AGU Vice President of Human Resources & Administrative Services, sends a message to the entire AGU staff featuring five short tips for getting by in the workplace.  On the Job will be publishing these tips in a new weekly segment, Tuesday Top 5.

AGU continues to provide staff with tools to increase efficiency and productivity on the job. Last week, several staff took part in a project management training that introduces a standard process and language. Since January 2014, more than 150 staff have completed the training, nearly 30 of those were in the last month.

Drawn from Franklin Covey’s Project Management Essentials, there are five phases of project management that all staff can incorporate into their daily work lives: Initiate, Plan, Execute, Monitor and Control, and Close. For best project results, try combining those five phases with the core behaviors needed to be a successful project manager, i.e., one who manages the project but not necessarily the people working on it. These behaviors are

  • Demonstrate Respect (every time)
  • Listen First (every time)
  • Clarify Expectations (every time)
  • Share Accountability and Be Accountable (every time)

Here are your Tuesday Top 5 tips for how to consistently deliver successful projects:

1. Initiate: Clarify Expectations

This is the most critical stage of the entire process. Take the time to understand what the expectations are and what success looks like. Identify and talk to your stakeholders. Interview them, i.e., ask them questions, and use their input to develop the project scope.

2. Plan: Create a Roadmap

By formally going through the Initiate phase, you will better be able to map the journey, i.e., to Plan. In the Plan phase, there are three areas to focus: risk, schedule, and communication.

Hint: The majority of project time should be spent on the Initiate and Plan processes.

3. Execute: Engage the Team

Now, it’s time to put the plan into action. The execute phase is all about keeping the team on task, making sure that they are motivated and holding them accountable.

4. Monitor and Control: Track and Communicate

From the very beginning of the project’s first phase, Initiate, through the final phase, Close, you should be tracking and communicating to the team. For project success, communication is an absolute essential. Understand who needs to know what, how frequently, and by what means

(e.g., in-person, phone, email). As the project manager, you should track the budget, schedule, and scope, know where to throw additional resources, and know when to say when.

5. Close: Document and Celebrate

By definition, a project is a temporary endeavor that has a clear beginning and a clear end. When you close a project, conduct lessons learned to capture what went well, what could have been better, and what you would do differently next time. Get these lessons from all team members, and store them away so that you can refer to them for similar projects in the future. After the lessons learned exercise, celebrate success. Reward your team and, particularly, your star performers.

Patricia Yaya is the Vice President of Human Resources and Administrative Services at the American Geophysical Union.  Additional AGU Staff contributed to this blog.