What is the single most important ingredient for business success?
- Having enough clients?
- Building a great team?
- Profitable products and services?
- Using technology?
Actually there isn’t a single ingredient; all of the above are essential but there is one missing. That is successfully executing of projects. Business owners often fail to realize the importance of projects in their pursuit of business success.
Think about it. Without projects the business will go nowhere. In fact growing a business is all about projects. For example:
- Implementing a new website
- Hiring a new member of the team
- Installing new technology
- Creating a new product
Each of these initiatives is a project. They all have the word “new”in them. They all have a beginning, middle and end. They are also prone to many risks:
- Cost overruns
- Scope creep
- Result not what was expected
- Late delivery
To name just a few!
How does a project fall behind schedule? One day at a time!
This series of blogs is all about projects and how to maximize the prospect of success. There are three distinct stages of a project:
The first rule is don’t cut corners on any of these stages!
This blog deals with preparation. The first step is to complete what we call the Strategic Focus Project ContractTM. This ensures everyone involved (your team, outside vendors etc) is on the same page, understands exactly what the project is about and agrees on the scope. A project contract should contain the following sections.
Give the project a name that resonates with everyone. This brings the project to life, aids in communication and adds a zing to the initiative. Make it fun and exciting!
Projects are usually the result of a strategic direction and so there will often be a strategic Priority and/or Goal associated with the project. This connects the project to the strategic plan.
This is about clarity. It ensures the team has a common understanding of what the project is all about so there are no misunderstandings.
To ensure further clarification and avoidance of misunderstandings the team agrees on the desired outcome when the project is complete.
Scope – Includes/Excludes
To successfully manage scope creep it is necessary for the team to agree what is included and what is excluded from the project.
Although the project plan has not been developed at this stage there may be key milestone dates that everyone must be aware of. For example, if the project must be completed before year end it is noted here.
The names and their roles of everyone involved in the project. At the very least there should be a Project Champion and a Project Manager in place at this early stage.
If a budget has been approved for this project include the details here.
Careful preparation at the beginning of a project will never guarantee success but it will lessen the probability of failure. So take time to work through a project contract AND get everyone’s agreement on its content.
The next blog will deal with how to mitigate risks by doing a Strategic Focus Risk AnalysisTM and developing contingency strategies for the high risk areas.
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