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11 best practices to improve any project anywhere

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11 best practices to improve any project anywhere

Project going fine or going poorly? Either way, try one...or better yet...try all of these 11 best practices to make a big difference on your project right now. No matter where you are on the project, no matter how well or how poorly things are going at the moment, there is always something you can be doing or should be doing to improve the project. It can be very easy to start going through the motions if the project is on auto pilot or even if it's going horribly wrong. You know that “giving up” feeling when you're on a sinking ship? Don't do it. Fail or not, you will regret it. Do your best and you may salvage something good out of even a very bad project experience. People will likely remember you did your best.

Here is my list of 11 different best practices that you could be doing to improve things a little or a lot on the projects you are currently managing. Give one a try...or better yet...do all of them and see how much things improve...

Ramp up status reporting.
No matter how good you're doing at status reporting, chances are you can do a little better. Maybe add a dashboard to the project status you are already producing – an nice informative one that shows project health at a quick glance. Your executive management team will love it and your customer likely will, too.

Consistent meetings.
Be consistent with meetings. Don't cancel unless someone dies. Even if you have nothing new to say, have a five minute meeting to go around the room and make sure everyone is still on the same page. Make sure nothing is falling through the cracks.

Actually pay attention to risk management.
Yes, actually do risk management and planning. Issues always come up and some of those were likely overlooked risks that you could have done some planning for in advance.

Plan for cybersecurity.
As part of your risk management planning, think about cybersecurity. Is there anything sensitive on your project that could cause you or your customer a lot of pain and sorry? Be aware...be aggressive. Hackers are always one step ahead of you and everything – repeat everything – can be hacked. Even the car you drive home from work.

Double the customer interactions.
Are you reaching out to the project client often enough? Maybe, but double your interaction with them. It will make it even less likely for them to disappear when you need them for an important decision or piece of information and it will increase their satisfaction level. Trust me on this one.

Meet with team members individually.
You meet with your team weekly – daily in some cases on agile projects and development efforts. But do you meet with them individually. You may find out details about the project and the work they are performing that you needed to know but would never hear in the group setting. Do it.

Take the project to senior management.
Keep senior management informed on your project. Send them the status report every week. Incorporate a nice dashboard view as mentioned above so they can see what they want in 15 seconds.

Meet with accounting.
Connect with someone in accounting. Financial management is just plain hard for many individuals – personally and professionally. Connecting with someone in counting can help you get actuals faster, help you with our project budget planning and forecasting and help you stay on top of that profit margin.

Know legal.
Your organization has a legal department. Know who is in there. Use it for your project. Have them review change orders, vendor agreements, project sign off and approval docs and anything else potentially formal, binding, and final on the project. It could save your neck - and the corporations neck - in the end. Why take unnecessary chances or go down alone?

Run more efficient meetings.
Running efficient, effective, timely and meaningful meetings is the key to getting stakeholders in those seats for every meeting you call. No-shows hurt productivity, information sharing and decision-making – and that is what project meetings are all about.

Always follow up on critical communications.
Your goal should always be to have every stakeholder on the same page. So follow up on project communications like meetings, status reports and status meetings/calls. Make sure everyone left with the same understanding. Send out your notes from these types of communications and ask for 24 hour responses from everyone.