Reset your Project Delivery for 2024

Why is project delivery more important than ever?

The buzz around project delivery has never been louder, and for good reason.

Cast your minds back to the turbulent aftermath of 2020—businesses were wobbling, trying to find their rhythm. Fast forward, and now they’re on the comeback trail, racing to recoup lost ground. The catch? Resources are as rare as a four-leaf clover.

Why the sudden emphasis on project delivery? Because, my friends, it’s the golden ticket to navigating the unpredictable seas of project management, pandemic or not.

In this blog, we will unravel the subtle messages your projects are sending.

Missed the memo that your project delivery might need a refresh? Worry not; consider us your trusty guides in navigating the project improvement terrain.

How do you know if you need to improve your project delivery?

Sometimes, organizations don’t even realize they need to work on their project delivery skills, processes, or tools. Luckily, there are ways to identify key signs you may have missed besides simply feeling that your project delivery status quo isn’t ideal.

The Project Management Institute handbook is an excellent place to start. Here are three questions you can ask right away to see if you need to make some project delivery improvements.

  1. Are your projects on time and on schedule?
  2. Do your projects get delivered over budget (time or cost)?
  3. When you deliver your projects, do you deliver them on time and within budget, but you end up cutting significant scope or capabilities to do so?

All of these questions help identify areas that can easily be improved with how you start, manage, and deliver your projects.

By addressing these questions, you’ll see improvements across the board, including:

  • Delivering higher results, features, and capabilities with fewer hours, effort, and rework
  • Increasing internal/external customer satisfaction
  • Improving resource performance and employee retention
  • Learning from your mistakes (and wins!) to create a repeatable, successful project delivery process

Easy ways to reset your project delivery

Whether you’re implementing them or simply thinking them through, here are six helpful steps you can take to improve your Project Delivery.

1. Put the right people in charge of a project and give them room to manage and improve

A successful project process allows you to repeat it. You want to put someone capable in charge, whether it’s an internal assignment or temporary outside help. Ensure that they have the time, authority, and bandwidth to spend time improving the project process vs. just running projects.

Look for someone excellent with their time management and focused on the success of not only the process but the team. An underrated, but vital skill is their ability to say “no” to initiatives that will undermine the project’s success or take their time away from improving project processes.

A dedicated, empowered leader is a gem to treasure. Their dedication will help you begin to scale and deliver more projects with the same or fewer resources as you reinvest in your project delivery.

2. Knowledge transfer/tracking and reporting

You’ll see results by defining, documenting, and referencing successful processes in the running of your projects. What’s important here is that you should also start measuring and managing via the checklists or processes you are following.

Peter Drucker once said, “that which gets measured, gets done.”

Standardization will allow you to improve your ability to address new scope or customer requests and manage them correctly. Constantly bending and twisting over what a solution was supposed to be in the final stages of project delivery will kill the bottom line. Thus, setting boundaries and tracking steps enhances your ability to monetize work.

3. Simplify your intake and selection process

One of the best ways to start solving your project delivery issues is to get a handle on the projects coming in. Before starting, create some simple structure and prioritization.

I would recommend establishing an intake or registration process to bring all projects into one area. This will help you avoid the same or a similar project starting somewhere else in the organization without your knowledge.

Defining essential information to help you define a project and its effects goes a long way. However, remember that even small projects can distract you from delivering value. The key is to avoid the death by 1,000 duck bites (meaning all the small projects or distractions).

Weigh, rank, and prioritize projects. Surface when you need additional resources to tackle and deliver the projects. This will help you avoid the “plate-spinning” syndrome, where nothing ever gets done, but everything’s being worked on.

4. Standardize how you manage your projects

Once a project is approved, it should go through a simple set of phase or stage gates to ensure that your key project delivery processes are being followed.

Here is an example of a flowchart that reinforces key steps and activities that should be happening for any project regardless of where it is in its lifecycle.

The most common project delivery phases are:

  • Initiate
  • Plan
  • Build/Deliver
  • Manage the Build
  • Closeout

This works straightforwardly. To move past a phase gate, such as the planning phase, you must have done the things required in the phase (usually, it’s a checklist). If you haven’t completed these, you must go back, finish, and resubmit to move forward.

Once a project is approved to pass, it moves forward to the next phase. This approval process gives you time to decide whether the project should be put on hold or add additional resources to help it deliver sooner.

You don’t have to have highly formal project lifecycle processes, but you should at least have something that measures if your projects are following standards.

Be actively looking for ways to automate tedious processes and lighten the workload. Technology is progressing in leaps and bounds, and while you don’t have to be on the cutting edge, chances are there are new features to dip your toes into, freeing you up to focus on more important tasks.

5. Leverage out-of-the-box PM technologies

Tools are great; best of all, you don’t have to have complex schedules or deep-earned value to deliver good visibility, accountability, and forecasting capabilities.

Using tools and databases helps drive dynamic updates. We want them to be easy to manage, track progress, and give us better tactical visibility. For example, let us see which resources are assigned or notify us when we’re slipping and a critical date is in jeopardy (earlier so you can address it before it happens).

What used to be a job for post-it notes is much better managed via a digitized system. You could use Microsoft Planner, Project for the Web, MS Teams, or any collaboration portal organized for projects that work for you and your team.

At Advisicon, we enjoy using MS Teams with built-in collaboration, task management, and reporting capabilities. As a bonus, you have SharePoint under the hood for all documentation.

6. Train your staff to follow processes and use the tools

Finally, a little training goes a long way to help people follow and repeat the process. Doing some light project management training will help rapidly get everyone on the same page and successfully use your tools/processes.

There is a standing joke in the leadership community that goes like this.

  • A CFO and CIO were talking about reducing costs.
    • The CFO said, “What if we invest and train our employees, and they leave?”
    • The CIO said back. “What if we don’t train them, and they stay?”

You get the point. Teaching your team project delivery tools, processes, or best practices will pay enormous dividends for those who do so.

2024 Reset

Having delved into crucial insights and advantages, let’s pivot to the action plan for resetting your project delivery in the coming year.

Outlined below are six pivotal steps designed to elevate your approach.

If the full spectrum feels a tad overwhelming, no worries! Pick one and dive in – every positive change begins with that initial step.

  1. Put the right people in charge of a project and give them room to manage & improve
  2. Knowledge transfer/tracking & reporting
  3. Simplify your intake & selection process
  4. Standardize how you manage your projects
  5. Leverage out-of-the-box PM technologies
  6. Train your staff to follow this process and use the tools

I hope this helps you find a great starting point to begin what will hopefully be a great year for you. Remember, don’t give up because it’s new, different, or hard to start.

Improving your project delivery is one of the best ways to achieve organizational growth, effectiveness, and success.

If you need help, you’re not alone. Here at Advisicon, we’ve trained over 100,000 people and consulted with hundreds of organizations to improve their work management practices. Contact us to begin finding solutions.