April 23 2024
Author Luke Bellamy

A Guide to Successful Project Delivery (Part 2)

In part 2 of this blog series, Cloud Orca Delivery Director – Luke Bellamy, explains his approach to addressing common challenges that might threaten the success of a project. To read part 1, click here.

5) Understanding what success looks like

Leading a successful project management team becomes exceedingly difficult when the goals of a project are not clearly defined from the outset. PMI studies show that 37% of project failures result from a lack of clear goals and objectives. The goals of a project should be discussed and agreed upon at the inception of a project – these are specific, measurable, and achievable objectives that the project aims to accomplish.  

When project goals are unclear, it becomes difficult to ascertain the necessary resources and plan adequately. This can result in inefficiencies, lost time, and escalated project expenses. Without strategic plans and goals for a project, organisations may jeopardise their end-product and find it difficult to remain competitive in today’s ever-evolving landscape. 

Clear project goals help boost team performance, improve communication, and drive project success. As a team, ensure that everyone is clear on what the goals and objectives of the project are, what the output of these are, and how they can be measured. Also consider how your project goals can be supported; data-driven decision-making ensures that strategies are grounded in facts and evidence, rather than assumptions or subjective opinions. 

6) Focus on data

Data from experience, is one of the most common failure points of any project delivery, and also one of the most underestimated pieces of an implementation. 36% of projects fail within the first year of being live, due to poor handling of data migration. It is worth remembering, that although a project may be complete, the success of the delivery is viewed over a longer term. Though data cleansing is traditionally an arduous process, it is also an opportunity to transform a key asset of any business, by enriching your data, so that once the business moves in to their new system, the data is much more structured and fulfilled. That being said, it is not always a good idea to take everything with you – many organisations decide to cut losses with their data, either due to the quality, or effort vs. reward of migrating it in to the new system. 

Your system relies on good data. Avoid using incomplete, irrelevant, or inaccurate information, as it affects the wider platform. Accurate and up-to-date data increases your chances of turning leads into customers, and will in time, increase your teams confidence, improving initial adoption rates and overall project success. To ensure a smooth delivery, invest heavily in your data, both with time and resources, and dont be afraid of making difficult decisions, by discarding what you no longer need to save time and unnecessary difficulties. Furthermore, tidy up what you wish to keep, and ensure that this aligns with the overall vision of the wider project team and scope of the project. 

7) Correct communication

Much like anything in life, communication is the key to success. Insufficient communication, whether it be written or verbal, stands out as one of the most common failure points of any project delivery. When communication falls short, it creates an opportunity for constant misunderstanding, missed deadlines, and widespread confusion amongst stakeholders, ranging from team members, to project sponsors and customers. 19% of project failures stem from miscommunication, whilst many studies show that improved communication can increase productivity by over 25% – so this is a no brainer! 

Within a project environment, effective communication serves as the backbone, facilitating the seamless flow of information and ensuring alignment across all levels. Without it, essential details might go unnoticed, critical updates might be overlooked, and expectations might remain unclear. Moreover, the repercussions of poor communication extend far beyond immediate setbacks. They can disrupt team dynamics, decrease trust among stakeholders, and ultimately jeopardise the project’s overall success. It’s therefore paramount to prioritise clear, consistent, and transparent communication channels throughout the project lifecycle to mitigate risks and foster a collaborative environment conducive to achieving project objectives. 

In the immediate offset of any project, it is important to establish clear and concise communication channels between the team. It is also essentially to isolate these to the relevant parties, so messages are being communicated to the correct audiences. For example, low level project task communications are not necessarily reliant upon project sponsors being involved, so it can lead to messages being lost of constantly overlooked. Once the communication channels have been agreed, ensure that someone accepts responsibly for overseeing these channels, and flagging when they are not being used correctly. Furthermore, audit trails of communication within the project environment is paramount, for the years following the delivery so that teams have a reference point, once the project team has rolled off.

As a project manager or project leader, there are 3 key things to remember when considering how you communicate, to aid a positive project process:

  • Take on board feedback, assess this with open eyes, and act upon it quickly if deemed plausible. Taking this approach not only boosts team productivity, but also strengthens team responsibility and accountability. 
  • Be a good listener: To deliver a message you first need to thoroughly understand the message, what the impact is and how to navigate it.  
  • Address conflicts promptly: Conflicts can hinder effective communication among project team members. Ensure fairness by valuing and considering the viewpoints and opinions of all parties in conflict. 

8) Adequate change management

One of the most overlooked aspects of any project, is the requirement for change management. It’s not just about training; change management also encompasses a broader aspect of any successful project implementation. It covers training, support, infrastructure, project management, communication, literature and much more. 

Inadequate change management practices often give rise to resistance from both project stakeholders and your team members. This resistance emerges when changes are poorly communicated, justified, or aligned with the needs and expectations of those involved. Without clear guidance and rationale behind the proposed changes, stakeholders and team members may feel left out of the decision-making process, leading to skepticism and reluctance to accept the changes. 

The implications of such resistance can be far-reaching, potentially resulting in conflicts, delays, and various disruptions to your project activities. Conflicts may arise as different parties hold opposing views on the proposed changes, hindering collaboration and impeding progress. Delays may also occur as time and effort is spent towards resolving conflicts and addressing resistance, instead of focusing on project tasks. Moreover, other disruptions, such as decreased morale and productivity, may ensue as team members become disengaged or frustrated with the lack of clarity and transparency in the change management process. 

Therefore, it is crucial to prioritise effective change management strategies that involve clear communication, thorough justification, and alignment of changes with the needs and expectations of stakeholders and team members. By proactively addressing potential sources of resistance and ensuring buy-in from all parties involved, you can mitigate conflicts early, whilst minimising delays, and maintaining the smooth progression of your project delivery. 

Here are some effective strategies to bolster your change management process: 

  • Evaluate and rank changes according to their urgency, significance, and alignment with business objectives. It may not always be possible to facilitate all changes, therefore it is crucial to prioritise those that align closely with the project’s goals, which offer the greatest value. 
  • Engage the project team by welcoming their input, expertise, and feedback on proposed changes. Involving the team from the outset ensures their alignment and commitment to the proposed changes. 
  • Develop a robust change management strategy early, which includes how changes will be communicated, when key communication will happen, the businesses documentation needs, and the adopters training requirements.

Summary

In Summary, the success of project delivery is made up of multiple pillars, and the more preparation that goes into these from the offset will vastly increase the likeliness of a successful implementation. 

Though overlooking one of these pillars does not necessarily lead to a failing project, it can have a negative impact on other aspects of the project, which in combination, will likely increase project timelines and costs. By being well prepared, sufficiently resources, having the correct expectations and following pre-agreed process and procedures, you can positively bolster the projects likelihood of success, while also gaining valuable knowledge of the process, to reinvest on further deliveries. 

Although methodologies give us guidance and frameworks to follow, it is widely accepted that there is no one way of working. What I have found is that through personal experience of common pitfalls, I learned how to handle them both correctly and incorrectly. 

Key to successful project delivery in one’s ability to leverage knowledge of past implementations, so that you can apply proven ways of working to mitigate and overcome any obstacle.  

Share the post