New projects offer an exciting opportunity to create something new, improve an existing offering, or test an idea. But ask any project manager; they will always have experience in projects that are not going as planned.
Project managers spend a lot of effort tracking things like scope, time, budget and risks. We report on progress and hold regular project meetings. With all this in place, why do some projects fail?
Communicate and Conquer
One of the key reasons that projects don’t achieve everything that they aim to is lack of communication between stakeholders.
Project teams often include diverse people, sometimes from different schools, universities, sectors or countries. They come with different ideas and ways of working. When members of the project team do not clearly communicate where they are up to in their part of the project or talk about risks and issues they are experiencing, it can have a flow-on impact on the broader project.
If you’re close to finalising a new build for a technical instrument, you don’t want to be held up simply because a project team member has gone on holiday and no one knows where all the certifications are up to.
Maybe you’re waiting for another researcher to provide input to a publication that is almost finalised, but they have a new finding that derails some earlier results. Setting expectations upfront about what and how regularly you will communicate as a team will help you manage flow-on effects, such as changing bookings with printers and rescheduling the launch.
Remember that good communication is critical. Projects are complex activities and work best when everyone knows what to expect from themselves and others.
Design and Discuss
Communication also plays a critical role in the development of new projects. Talking with other project team members about the design and planning of a new project is a great way to find out information that will help your project succeed.
You might be trying to procure a piece of equipment, and another project member lets you know there has been a change in the University’s procurement process, meaning that extra time is required to complete this part of the project. This information can help set up your project timeline.
Communication is so crucial that many projects have a communication plan that outlines which stakeholders need to be informed about the project and when. Remember, don’t underestimate the power of a conversation to support the success of your project.
For more information on Project Management by ANU Enterprise, contact our Project Management Office at email@example.com.