The Building Blocks of Successful Projects

Posted by in Blogs, Ty Kiisel: Strategic Project Management

Like most guys I know, I played little league baseball as a kid. We practiced a couple times a week during the summer and one evening was dedicated to a game. Needless to say, I never made the “big show” but I did spend a lot of time on throwing, hitting, running and other drills to learn the fundamentals of the game. I don’t think any of us really enjoyed the drills, but I’ve come to appreciate how learning the fundamentals is important in any field of endeavor. In my opinion, managing projects is no different.

Most successful project behaviors share some common themes. They address a sound process, they accommodate for prioritization, they facilitate learning and they enable the people on the teams to perform at their best. The following three practices fit into those categories and encourage successful outcomes:

  1. Make sure the project has a clearly defined business objective—and that everyone involved in the project understands what it is: It’s important for stakeholders and project teams to understand the business value of what they’re doing. Keeping the project vision visible and accessible enables everyone involved in the project to stay focused on what’s important, and keeps scope creep to a minimum.
  2. Make sure the project has executive commitment to see it through: One of the quickest ways to kill a project is to pull its funding out from under it. A committed executive can also help promote the merits of the project to others within the organization to build a broader base of stakeholder support.
  3. Make sure there is a shared sense of determination to finish the project: If the only member of the team committed to finish the project is the project manager, it’s not likely the project will every be successfully completed. Individual team members and executive stakeholders need to have the same determination. Without a shared sense of determination to finish, projects languish and eventually fail.

With anything, mastering the fundamentals isn’t very exciting, but it’s often the difference between someone who is able to perform at a higher level and someone who isn’t. With the benefit of hindsight, I certainly would have spent more time working on the fundamentals of baseball if I had little league to do over again.

What are some of the fundamentals you would add to the list?