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How Apprenda Approaches Project Management (Part 2)

Michael Phillips

By Michael Phillips

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A few months ago, I outlined how Apprenda adheres to strict project management strategies in order to deliver projects on time, within budget, and within scope. We care deeply about our customers, and by using the Project Management Institute’s best practices and methodologies, we can ensure them a successful project every time.

In the previous post, I outlined part of how we achieve such successful outcomes. In this article, I want to dive a little deeper into our use of smart project management processes and techniques.

The right mix of planning, monitoring, and controlling a project can make all the difference in completing it on time and within budget. Given the high rate of project failures, you might think that companies would be happy to have their project finish with some degree of success. That’s not the case.

The only way project objectives can be met with customer satisfaction is through the effective project management processes and techniques. Let’s take a look at some of these:

Planning

  • First plan the work by utilizing a project definition document (Project Overview, Objectives, Scope, Assumptions & Risks, Approach, Organization, Signature Page, Initial Effort, Cost, and Duration Estimates).
  • There is tendency for IT infrastructure projects to shortchange the planning process, with an emphasis on jumping right in and beginning the work. The time spent properly planning the project will result in reduced cost and duration and increased quality over the life of the project.
  • Align your project team to the key drivers of the organization and update this alignment as the organization shifts its strategies.

Project Work Plan

  • Create a planning horizon. This workplan provides the following step-by-step instructions for constructing project deliverables and managing the project:
    • Reporting: Provide transparent status and financial reporting to executive leadership.
    • People: Your team needs to be strategic thinkers, nimble, driven, objective, well-versed in PM methodologies and tools, comfortable in chaos and confident in executive presence.
    • Processes: Should be practical, adaptable, and be based on buy-in from relevant business areas of the organization.
    • Tools: Must be tailored based on availability of technology and knowledge of its users. Provide reporting mechanisms for effective decision-making. Process automation should be the primary focus, but automation can follow after that.

Project Management Procedures

  • Define project management procedures up front. The project management procedures outline the resources that will be used to manage the project (issues, scope, change, risk, quality, communication, etc.).
  • Manage the workplan and monitor the schedule and budget. The challenge is having the rigor and discipline needed to apply your project management skills correctly and proactively.
  • Look for warning signs that the project may be in trouble (variance in schedule, unscheduled overtime, team morale starts to decline, etc.).
  • Improve stakeholder satisfaction and employee productivity as much as you can.

Managing Scope

  • Scope is a part of the project planning and involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs, and deadlines
  • Ensure that the sponsor approves the initial scope as well as any and all change requests. After the basics of managing the schedule, managing scope is the most important activity required to control a project.
  • Guard against scope creep. A series of small changes, none of which appear to affect the project individually, can accumulate and have a significant impact.

Managing Risk

  • Risk is defined as an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or a negative effect on the project’s objectives.
  • Identify risks up front. When planning is occurring, the project team should identify all known risks and put in place specific plans to mitigate each one of them.
  • Continue to assess potential risks throughout the project, as some will mutate and can cause delays, budget overages, and more.

Resolve Issues Quickly

  • Issues are defined as an event or condition that has already happened or is currently impacting the project objectives.
  • Real issues, by their nature, must be resolved with a sense of urgency before they can impact the project.

Wrap Up

Despite tough odds, organizations expect projects to be completed faster, cheaper, and better than ever before. We hold ourselves to these high standards and our clients can surely attest to it.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Apprenda project team or want to discuss working on a new project, contact us. We’d love to talk in more detail about how we implement our Platform as a Service and run our project management practices.

 

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Michael Phillips
Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips is a project manager for Apprenda and has more than 20 years of industry experience. Prior to joining Apprenda's client services team, Michael was a program manager for EMC and a vice president at Goldman Sachs.

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