Online Project Management Success – Critical Success Factors for your Next Project

Every organization has their own criteria for determining the success or failure of the project, the project manager, and the project team.  There really can’t be that many variations, but since the level of project oversight varies from company to company, so does the level to which different criteria matters to the powers that be within an organization.  And we certainly can’t forget about the project customer – they definitely have a say in whether or not a project is considered a success.  Logically, a project could come in on time and on budget but if the customer is unhappy for some reason, then the project could easily be designated a failure.

So what are the key determiners of success or failure for a project?  Across different industries, different organizations, different customers, different PM methodologies, and different PM infrastructures within various organizations there will always be variations of what constitutes a successful project from an unsuccessful one, but the bottom line – as far as I’m concerned – is that there are three key determiners of whether or not a project is deemed a success at the end of the engagement.  These three determiners are: on time delivery, on budget delivery, and customer satisfaction.  Let’s look at each of these in more detail and discuss ways to help ensure project success through proper management of each.

On time delivery

Some project managers set the project schedule in stone at the beginning of the project and fail to use it as a living, breathing tool for the project.  Those individuals have failed on the project before it even started.  Project managers who hope to succeed must choose a good project management scheduling tool.  They must then use that tool to revise the schedule weekly, engage the team and customer for real progress updates on tasks, and use this revised weekly schedule – along with a detailed status report – to drive project status discussions every week with the project team and the project customer.

Using an online project management tool such as EPM Live gives you the scheduling tools needed for on time project delivery. EPM Live provides a variety of schedule management tools.  Users can choose which scheduling tool is best for them based on maturity of the user and complexity of the project.  EPM Live’s Online Project Planner allows project managers to create simple project schedules online allowing users to choose various viewing capabilities to see a simple task list or a detailed Gantt chart for comprehensive schedule management. Project managers can easily update the schedule and send progress reports to team members straight from the Project Planner. This method also allows project team members to update their project statuses/deadlines from their Outlook task list, increasing project efficiency by allowing them to work from one centralized location.  EPM Live also has a built in seamless integration with Microsoft Project so that project managers who are trained scheduling engine users can create there schedules in Microsoft Project and then publish them to EPM Live for project visibility and statusing.   

Figure 1 – EPM Live Online Project Planner 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On budget delivery

You may not be able to deliver on budget every time, but you can help to ensure you’re very close by reviewing, analyzing and revising the project budget weekly using project actuals from the previous week.  The project manager that does this will ensure that his project budget is likely never more than 10% off the budget target.  A budget that is 10% over is much easier to correct than one that is 50% over.  Using EPM Live’s Cost Management capabilities allows PM’s to have true visibility with project cost summaries and leverage pre-configured cost reports and dashboards to watch it closely so you can catch it and correct it before it’s too late.

Figure 2 – EPM Live Dashboards 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer satisfaction 

The satisfaction of your customer at the end of the project is the most important aspect of all.  You may be over budget or slightly behind schedule, and even then the project could be deemed a success due to change items, extended scope, etc.   On the other hand, an unhappy customer will never lead to success.  There are a series of things that you can do along the way to greatly increase your chances of ending with a happy customer.  These include:

  • Practice efficient and effective communication throughout the engagement and make sure the project customer is always well informed of project status and any issues that are affecting the project. EPM Live has over 30 pre-configured Reports with charts and graphs for visual presentation of project performance to help keep stakeholders informed
  • Engage customer-side subject matter experts (SMEs) and end users during the planning and requirements gathering/finalization phase to ensure that the solution you rollout in the end is going to truly meet the client’s needs
  • Provide elevated support during preparation for user acceptance testing (UAT).  Most clients don’t know what to expect and in return aren’t prepared very well and end up having a disastrous UAT experience leaving them frustrated and less than satisfied.  Think ahead and plan for the obstacles before they become roadblocks

Figure 3 – EPM Live Report Dashboards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

The bottom line is you can succeed at any two of these key determiners and still be considered a failure.  You can bring the project home successfully, in your opinion, and be very proud of your team’s efforts in meeting the timeline and the budget, and still end up with a customer who is less than satisfied for various reasons including system usability for the end user if there were any glitches in the requirements along the way. Sticking with project management best practices throughout the project engagement, and leveraging a PPM system such as EPM Live will help keep your customer well informed the entire way, and closely monitoring your project budget and assigned tasks. EPM Live will make you a Rockstar in the eyes of your client and is a sure bet to end the engagement successfully.