Your client is the most important element of any project, so keep them close and speak to them every week about their needs, worries and requirements. Keep them updated with the project’s status, progress, and any risks, issues or decisions you need their input on. Face to face communication is best, followed by telephone. Don't rely on email and written status reports alone.
2. Assess project progress
Spend time with your team each week ascertaining the progress you have made and update the project plan. If something is not on track, discuss what the root causes are and take corrective action. Empower people to take responsibility for their assignments and to commit to the estimates they provide.
3. Review risks and issues
Review and update the project’s risks and issues list at a set time each week. Don’t just review it on your own; involve the entire team. Ask them what they worry about and what is holding them back. Also ask people outside of the immediate team. They will see the project in a different light and may be able to identify additional risks which you hadn't considered.
4. Update metrics
Update the project’s key performance indicators and earned value metrics. Assess how much of the project’s scope has been completed compared to how much time and money has been consumed. Also update the project’s financials with a) actual spend compared to budget and b) estimated spend to completion compared to remaining budget.
5. Distribute a written status reports
Record the project’s progress and achievements on a one-page status report and distribute it to all key stakeholders. The status report should contain a brief overview of accomplishments and successes, key milestones, top 5 risks and issues, budget information and a RAG status. To make it more visually appealing, include a timeline and simple KPI bar charts.
6. Take a helicopter view of the project
Block out time in your schedule each week and take a big picture view of the project. Get away from your desk to a place where you can think in new and unfamiliar patterns. Look at the aspects which are not working optimally and decide what you will do about them. Assess the ways in which you can help improve your team’s performance and better meet your client’s needs with less effort.
7. Conduct weekly one-2-one meetings
Have a one-2-one meeting with the key team members each week – even if it’s only for 20 minutes. Make an effort not just to discuss the specific assignments they are working on but also how they are getting on, what their observations are and what they enjoy. Seek to understand in which ways you can better motivate each person to contribute and inspire them to take on more responsibility.
8. Chair a working-group meeting
Every project needs a heartbeat and a central meeting where progress is discussed and where key decisions are made, for instance a regular working-group meeting where the main stakeholders and team members are present. Chair a discussion around achievements, risks and issues and decisions pertaining to the product’s design and solution. Seek to demonstrate as much of the solution as you possibly can during these meetings.
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