4 Ways to Successfully Manage Projects

There are countless resources, guidelines and tips on how to successfully manage projects. But one topic that’s not often covered involves project failures. Not many project managers are ready to admit failure. However, it’s still all too common to see projects fail and that’s why it’s essential to identify and analyse the potential risks and challenges before the project kicks off. By understanding the risks associated with the project’s goals they can more than likely be better managed.

In this article, I’ll identify 4 primary ways to help successfully manage them. Understanding them will hopefully better prepare you for your next one.

Take time to plan: Successful project managers know that they significantly increase a project’s success when they allocate sufficient time to planning. They know the outcomes the project needs to deliver and how its success will be measured. They pay attention to detail and break down big goals into smaller ones. They identify the financial and human resources they need and share their expectations with their project team. They research the costs involved and then set and manage budgets. They know that inaccurate cost estimates can quickly exhaust funds causing parts of the project to be abandoned.

Regular progress and milestone management: Managing milestones and tracking progress towards them helps to identify which parts are off course and allows corrections to be made before it’s too late. Successful project managers assign and prioritise tasks and know that it’s critical to be able to manage people. They know which warning signs to look for and when the project is failing.

Good governance and leadership: Often project managers become so busy that they “don’t see the wood for the trees”. Allocating a project sponsor or senior manager to oversee progress and to ensure that the project manager has support and the resources they require will greatly benefit. Equally, they should be given responsibility for ensuring that the project’s scope and goals are fully understood. Often financial and human resources are scarce and many projects run concurrently and compete with each other. The project sponsor should be someone who has the authority to make decisions on which projects to fund and which ones to delay. They often can cut through red tape and remove obstacles.

Assign experienced project managers: Often projects are allocated to people who are very competent in their jobs but have little or no project management experience. A project manager may be assigned to a business critical or strategic project and will take on significant responsibilities. Successful projects are assigned to individuals who have the experience and have demonstrated they have the capabilities to successfully manage assignments.

These tips are just four basic means to help improve your project’s likelihood of success. Beyond them, there are countless other ways for developing greater value from your projects. But by implementing some of them in planning and executing your projects, you’ll be on your way towards delivering better performance and outcomes.

Your Business Doesn’t Have To Be So Risky

One of the big fears people have about having their own business is that it is risky. And that’s true.

I don’t want to minimize that, because you’re taking a risk to put your economic welfare in your own hands. (You’re also taking a risk, and I would argue a bigger one, to put your economic well-being in someone else’s hands, but that’s for another article!)

What’s also true is that taking risks to have your own business can be reduced by the choices you make. And having your own business has big benefits.

In your business, you have 3 kinds of risk: 1) risks you can prevent, 2) risks you can reduce, and 3) risks you have little control over.

Let’s clean things up right away by looking at #3. Examples of risks you have no control over are external to your company. They include the weather (if you have a weather-affected business), or other companies popping up that do the same thing.

Risks you have little control over can’t be prevented. But they can be identified, and the sooner you can do so, the better. Then you can decide what to do to minimize their effects. Make a list of potential external risks and include what you plan to do to monitor them part of your overall strategy.

For example, keeping an eye on other companies popping up that do the same thing can include regular internet searches and consistently following through on news you may hear through your contacts of a new company on the scene. Depending on what you learn, you can decide if this new company provides you with:

· New ideas for offerings you can create

· Opportunities for collaboration and joint ventures

· Greater clarity for your own marketing, to help prospects distinguish you as a provider.

Some risks you can prevent by getting insurance, or obtaining legal advice. Relatively easy solutions can do the trick.

Next we’ll look at the first kind of risk, #1: risks you can prevent. We’re talking about risks within your own company. For example, you’ll want to ensure that your processes are clear, so that everyone involved can follow them with a minimum of errors or time wasted in confusion.

These are the easiest risks to manage, but not everyone does so because procedures aren’t sexy. They are, though, the backbone of providing a consistent product or service that your clients can rely on.

You can manage these preventable risks by monitoring and guiding people and processes toward the standards of quality you set. Create a procedures manual and test it out, to ensure everyone knows what to do. Add a step for quality testing, to see if the procedures are clear and being followed.

Finally, the second kind of risk, #2: risks you can reduce, are the most fun. These are risks you voluntarily take so that you can improve your outcomes. For example, a bank takes on risk when it lends money. You may take on risk when you spend time researching a new possibility for an offering.

This kind of risk is strategic. The risk itself isn’t in itself undesirable. The flip side of this kind of risk is opportunity. Managing these risks effectively increases the possibility of gain. Reaching out to a potential new client group that is large and potentially lucrative is a risk you may want to take for the high potential income.

Minimizing risks takes some thinking and planning. First, how can you minimize the risk before you begin? In our example, you can get to know your new group of prospective clients really well. Do research. Talk to them. Really invest in understanding what their problems are and how you might be able to help solve them. Get to know them personally: build relationships.

Decide how you’re going to manage the risk factor once your risky venture with this new client group is underway. Track your progress. Is your investment paying off? Don’t get stuck with the same strategy if it’s not working. Make adjustments quickly. Change direction as you learn more, if it’s warranted.

As a general rule, make the scale of your effort to prevent or reduce a risk consistent with its consequences. If the consequences are major, spend more time and energy than if the consequences are minor. There may even be risks you can ignore, because they’re really unlikely and have minor consequences.

Risk management is part art, part science. These risk management strategies can help you take on bigger risks, with bigger rewards for everyone. It’s worth putting energy into thinking things through before you begin to invest time and energy.

Taking calculated risks, making good decisions around what’s probable and what you’re willing to do, is a good way to keep the risk factor in your business to a minimum. Your business doesn’t have to be so risky.

How Do I Get An ISO 31000 Accreditation?

The International Organization for Standardization developed the ISO 31000 family of standards with the intention of creating a set of guidelines and principles in dealing with an organization’s management of risk. ISO 31000:2009 provides these general principles and guidelines for risk management. ISO 31000 intends to create a paradigm that is recognized universally by companies and practitioners, developing and employing the process of risk management as a replacement to an array of methodologies, processes and standards that varied from industry to industry and country to country. The ISO 31000 family currently includes, ISO 31000, which examines the principles and guidelines of risk management implementation. The IEC 31010, details risk assessment and management techniques and ISO 73, which is the guide to the standard vocabulary of risk management.

ISO 31000 is intended to provide practical principles and aid organizations in creating a process and framework for managing their risk factors in a systematic, credible and transparent fashion. ISO 31000 is not a set of standards that organizations can become certified in. Rather it is a practical set of guidelines designed to assist organizations in the implementation of responsible risk assessment, to ensure that the individuals who need to manage risk and in fact doing so, to evaluate an organization’s risk assessment practices, and to assist in the development of codes, standards and procedures as they relate to risk management.

In implementing ISO 31000, risk management procedures can be compared within an organization against a set of recognized international benchmarks. This provides for the development of sound principles and effective risk assessment. In addition to ISO 31000, the ISO Guide 73, further ensures that any organization is on the same page in discussing risk management.

Background

First published on November 13, 2009 ISO 31000 establishes a standard for risk assessment implementation. ISO Guide 73 harmonizes and revises the vocabulary of risk management and was also published in November 2009. ISO 31000:2009’s function is to adaptable and applicable to any individual, group, association or any private, public or community enterprise. ISO 31000 was not developed with any specific field of study, industry or management system in mind. The ISO 31000 standards family’s goals are to provide best of practices, guidelines and structure where all risk assessment operations are concerned.

Scope

ISO 31000 sets a guideline for the design and implementation risk management, as well as, outlining its maintenance within an organization. With the practices of risk assessment formalized the adoption of risk management standards that accommodate companies who need ‘silo-centric’ enterprise management system will be greater, than previously experienced. ISO 31000’s enables the strategic management of an organization’s operational tasks within its processes, projects, and functions to align all of the objectives of risk assessment. ISO 3100 is designed to aid organizations in the increase of reaching objectives, promote a more proactive management, identify risk and treat it appropriately, improve the identification of threats and opportunities, help in the compliance of regulations and legal requirements. ISO 31000 is also intended to improve governance and financial reporting, increase stakeholder trust, create a reliable standard for planning and decision making, improve organizational controls, effectively manage risk treatment resources, increase operational efficiency, improve health and safety, improve environmental protection, improve incident management and loss prevention, increase learning and resilience within the organization.

Implementation

ISO 31000’s intent is to be incorporated within the management systems currently in place and to improve risk assessment. This is done by the formalizing the processes rather than through a complete overhaul of legacy practices; by aligning organizational objectives, embedding systematic reporting mechanisms, and the creation of uniform evaluation metrics.