If you’ve read the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fifth Edition, or spent any time flicking through the PRINCE2 manual then you’ll know that there are lot of processes in project management. Sometimes it feels as if you can’t do anything on a project without it being part of a formalised, documented process: they help you get from A to B with the tasks you need to achieve.
However, there are 5 processes in my opinion that are critical for project success. Let’s take a look at those.
The risk management process helps you manage risk on your project. It sounds simple but risk management is one of the most important things to do in project management. If you can manage risks, then you can control the outcomes more effectively and you’ll have a better chance of delivering something successfully.
A good risk management process will let you document the risk, assess the likelihood of it occurring and the impact it will have if it does and enable you to plan mitigating actions. Some project management software tools have risk management features built in but you’ll want to review these in light of how you manage risks to ensure they are fit for your needs.
After risk management I would say that the change management process is the next most critical process (if you will let me have degrees of criticality in this context). That’s because project scope is almost guaranteed to change and how you deal with these changes will make or break your project and your team.
Your change management process should let you evaluate the changes before you accept or reject them, and provide guidance as to how to incorporate changes if they are approved. You’ll also need to make sure that the process includes the appropriate levels of authorisation, as sometimes you’ll be able to authorise a change as the project manager and other times you’ll need approval from your sponsor or maybe even the whole Project Board.
All projects hit issues from time to time so knowing how to deal with them will help you keep the project moving. The issue management process is designed to let you assess the impact of an issue and put plans in place so that you can manage it effectively – whatever route you choose.
Managing resources on many projects is a bit hit and miss. If someone is available, then they get added to the project team, even if they aren’t the best fit for the job. A thorough resource management process can help this, but this is probably the most challenging process to get right.
You need an effective way of allocating resources to projects and this is normally managed by the Project Office or PMO.
Resource management on your project is also important and you need a way of allocating tasks to the people who will be doing them. Make sure they all know how they’ll be receiving their task assignments as well, so that nothing is overlooked.
The processes for managing communications are more flexible than these other processes, in my opinion. They tend to have to adapt to suit the project environment and you’ll find that the approval process for communications differs from company to company as well.
The thing that generally is the same on all projects is the requirement to produce progress reports. If you are starting from scratch, then getting some help producing project status reports will set you off on the right foot – talk to your manager, PMO or another trusted colleague and ask for templates, training material and any other advice they can offer you.
As you get more experienced at project management you’ll find that these processes become second nature and are a lot easier to work with. In fact, you’ll probably get to the point where it doesn’t feel like you are doing a process at all, it simply feels like you are doing your job.
However, in order to get to that stage you need to have clear processes for the organisation. If you don’t feel that your business is quite there at the moment, then map out your existing processes with process mapping software like iMindQ. Then you can compare these existing processes with what you think would be best practice for your team. Once you have the current and desired processes you can then put plans in place to close the gap and work with your PMO or the other project managers to change and improve your processes to get you where you want to be.