Project success tips

Ensuring the success of your projects can seem like a daunting task in most organizations. Good project managers can seem like minor deities in their ability to take a failing project and make it successful. In many ways, rescuing a failing project is much easier than ensuring a typical project will be successful from the very beginning. The reasons are multiple, but generally the increased visibility of a failing project helps rally resources to its defense and raises the awareness of the project gaining organizational support. How can you do that for your project without first having it fail? Here are five tips for project success.

1. Align Your Project With Organizational Objectives

Projects that align with organizational objectives are far less likely to face resistance from within the organization. This gives your project relevance and gives top management a reason to support your project. You will be able to defend your budget and resources by pointing out how your project will further business goals. When needed, project sponsors can be called in and will have a reason to defend your project.

2. Find the Right Project Sponsor

All projects should have a sponsor. This person will help shepherd your project through the organization, provide support, and help you resolve political issues within your organization. The project sponsor is someone who needs to have you back. You should avoid having your immediate supervisor or manager be the project sponsor. They have their own agenda that often involves you and your project as a tool in their game. Find a project sponsor that is at least two rungs above you. Do not go too high in the organization either or you risk a project sponsor that is not able to effectively support you because they have more important concerns. Keep your project sponsor happy and continuously support her.

3. Build Allies Across Your Organization

Your colleagues are just as much your competition as they are your collaborators. They want their projects to be successful, they are seeking funding, and they are looking for promotions. Yet, you are likely expected to collaborate with them and you should. You will not have full control over every person your projects needs to be successful, so you will have to influence those people to help you. Do that by building trust—follow through on your commitment, no matter how big or small, and avoid picking unnecessary fights. You want to be seen as a collaborator that your colleagues can rely on, not a troublemaker. Build support for your project through your allies.

4. Protect Your Project

Your project is composed of people and a budget. Support your people and protect your budget. If you do not have the right assignment, no one wants to work on your project or you have half interested resources, your project will not be successful. Get people to enthusiastically want to work on your project by supporting them. When someone has a personal situation, let them have time off to deal with it. If a team member has a conflict, step in on their side and help them out. Only ask for heroics when it is absolutely necessary and when you do make absolutely sure you reward your team for it. When it comes to your budget, you want to do everything to protect it. Do not become known as the guy that people can steal resources from—it will hurt you in the long run, if not in the short run.

5. Be Flexible

Your colleagues, team members, and manager see the world through very different eyes. Everyone has a unique style of thinking and acting, with divergent needs and expectations. You have to work with all of them, no matter how crazy you think they are. Adapt your approach to that of the people you are interacting with. Avoid forcing your views on others or trying to convince someone how right you are. You will not succeed and will only create more problems for yourself. Learn to navigate the treacherous waters of your organization’s personalities by being flexible. Learn how people perceive you so you can learn how to interact with them.

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