Businesses are facing fierce market competition and ongoing disruptions caused by the pandemic. Due to changes in client demands and new technologies appearing almost every single day, market leaders have realized that project management expertise is what they need for better performance and less time wasted.
Yet, completing a project with no hiccups sounds like a pipe dream. In fact, you have to be prepared that something can go off track anytime. The PMI Pulse of the Profession survey illustrates how common this challenge is for organizations. In the past year, only 57% of projects were completed within the budget and 52% managed to meet the deadline. In more than a half of projects managers faced an uncontrolled expansion of the project scope, while 15% of projects failed completely.
The PMI Pulse of the Profession survey results
For the past six years, JatApp has successfully finished more than 200 software development projects thanks to effective project management strategies in place. Based on our solid experience, our team has prepared eight proven project management practices that will help save your budget and lead to project success.
Project management best practices
Today, many companies try to refine their project management strategies to deliver a product within the deadline and estimated budgets. To help you succeed with your project, we’ve put together a list of eight recommendations for successful project management.
1. Hold a kickoff meeting
A project kickoff meeting is the initial meeting with the client and the project team. During this meeting, the client talks about their project expectations, while the team sets common goals without making any specific plan. It’s also the time to discuss the project stages and agree on how to ensure a productive work together. A project manager (PM) sets the tone for discussion and vision for the project, boosting team morale and enthusiasm.
At JatApp the work on each case begins with the team holding a kickoff meeting to dive deep into project requirements and develop the best possible strategy. For example, at the first meeting with one of our recent clients, Fameelee, our team suggested a Project-based engagement model for building a minimum viable product (MVP) of an app for tracking family members’ whereabouts. After the MVP release it was decided to shift towards the Dedicated Team model to add more features to the product.
The kickoff meeting gave a chance for our PM to carefully listen to customer expectations and come up with the best solution on how to minimize risks for the client. As a result, the project was not only delivered on time and within the budget, but also had massive success with more than 3 millions of downloads on both iOS and Android platforms.
Fameelee app functionality
2. Create a project brief
A project brief allows all stakeholders to have a bird’s eye view of the project. It is a short document that outlines major aspects of the project and is used to get stakeholders’ buy-in on project requirements. Project briefs typically include the following elements:
- Project title;
- Client’s name;
- Brief overview of the project
- A list of objectives
- Project scope
- Target audience of the product
- Success metrics
- Budget and timeline
Project brief example
3. Develop a detailed project plan
While a project brief gives a quick overview of what the team wants to accomplish, a project plan describes in detail how they will achieve project objectives. In other words, in the project plan a PM needs to explain to the client how they are going to manage the process so that their team members will get to the finish line without any delays. A project plan often includes:
- Project mission statement
- SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound
- Project scope
- Deliverables and deadline estimates
- Team members’ roles and responsibilities
- Project schedule
- Project budget
- Communication plan
- Quality assurance strategies
- Risk assessment and mitigation plan
JatApp PMs try their best to develop well-defined project plans, paying special attention to risk assessment and mitigation strategies. Our project planning approach helped one of our clients, a company that offers a power bank rental platform, to complete the project within the tight schedule in the midst of the global pandemic. At the end of November 2019, our company started to work on software to make the power banks and the charging base communicate with each other. The project was expected to be finished by May 2020 when the power banks and base had to be manufactured and shipped from China.
However, due to the spread of coronavirus the device arrived only in September, so our company had been challenged to build an emulator to test the hardware. Certainly, our PMs could not foresee the global pandemic, but they managed to correctly plan how much resources might be needed to develop an emulator if there were any shipping delays.
The power bank rental platform functionality
4. Maintain a realistic schedule
This project management practice is not only about making a schedule in the initial plan, but also about ensuring that it remains achievable throughout the entire project. The main goal for PMs is to ensure consistent progress without overloading their teams. Regular assessment of team availability is important for proper scheduling, especially when changes to the project need to be made. To hit the deadline, managers should check on task details and allocated hours to better understand what their team members can handle at the moment.
At JatApp, for example, PMs use Activity Timeline for Jira, a tool that helps to manage team workload. The application enables them to see who is performing what task and when it’s going to be completed. Apart from tracking progress, PMs can easily view who is available to complete a task when necessary. This tool also allows to manage team members’ sick leaves, vacations, and days off, which helps to keep the project moving forward without overwhelming teams with additional activities.
Team scheduling with Activity Timeline
5. Ensure regular communication with the team
Consistent communication is the key to successful project management. Keeping the lines of communication open with all teammates allows for faster decision-making and problem-solving. PMs should set up regular video calls and use messaging platforms to keep all team members updated. To communicate effectively, PMs need to define how often they’re going to have calls (daily, weekly, monthly), which communication platform fits the most, and what questions to ask during the meetings.
Here’s how PMs communicate with their teams at JatApp. Each morning they conduct a meeting that lasts no more than 15 minutes. No matter how small the project is, daily meetings are extremely important to keep all team members on the same page. If there are questions related to product functionality, the team will have an additional video call. Teammates can also message each other in Slack for regular catch-ups during the day.
At JatApp, daily meetings are conducted via Google Meet. Our PMs create an event in Google Calendar, inviting all participants. If at a certain project phase a team member is not invited to the meeting, but has a question to ask, they can still join the event. Team members can always find the link to the meeting in Google Calendar. This is particularly helpful during the pandemic, as some employees may be absent from the office because of quarantine restrictions or self-isolation.
Google meet integration with Google Calendar
During a daily meeting each participant answers the following questions:
- What tasks were completed yesterday?
- What tasks are planned for today?
- Are there any problems in your way?
- Is there any news or feedback from the client?
These four questions bring peace to every meeting, while keeping all teammates engaged in the project.
6. Manage scope creep
Scope creep is one of the most common reasons why many projects fail. Scope creep refers to the situation when project tasks or requirements have been changed so many times that there’s a risk of not completing the project within the initial budget and deadline. In fact, the PMI survey shows that changes in the project objectives and business priorities are accountable for 37% and 39% of project failures, respectively.
The PMI survey on major cause of project failures
One of PMI project management best practices is to make sure that all stakeholders are aware of the outcomes related to making any project changes. If the scope has to expand anyways, PMs need to revise task management, delivery timeline, and budget, while keeping everyone updated.
Detecting scope creep early on helps to avoid product delays and additional costs. The JatApp PMs use an issue tracking platform, Jira, to make burndown charts, which enables them to timely spot any changes to the project scope. If a PM sees a blip on a graph in the Jira’s real-time report, scope creep is most likely to happen. If the scope creep has been detected, PMs make decisions whether to revise initial requirements or get additional resources.
Jira burndown chart
7. Make sure that project documentation is up-to-date
Keeping documentation up-to-date is one of our most successful project management practices. This approach helps our PMs to make the project closure seamless and hassle-free. The following documents need to be regularly updated:
- Risk and issues log
- Project schedule
- Change requests
- Project expenses
- Responsibility assignment matrix
- Retrospective log
JatApp PMs use Confluence for storing and organizing all project documents. This tool lets you keep all files in one place, which makes it easy to find a necessary document when needed. It’s also worth noting that Confluence can be integrated with Jira. Our PMs switch between two platforms in a few clicks, which saves time on creating and managing documentation.
Confluence integration with Jira
Apart from the abovementioned documents, our PMs also thoroughly describe statuses of all tasks at the closing phase of the project. They also communicate with the client via email to officially document all project agreements. Client emails serve as a reference guide, helping to avoid any misunderstandings once the project is finished.
8. Conduct a meeting to reflect on the completed project
No matter how good the project was, learning from the past experience can help PMs manage the next project even better. That’s why it’s essential for us to hold a retrospective meeting at the end of each project. During such meetings teammates usually discuss what project management strategies and techniques they can implement to overcome their shortcomings next time. Implementing this project management practice also helps PMs to better understand what employees may need to improve their soft and hard skills for the future.
With today’s severe competition in modern industries, businesses expect PMs to meet tight deadlines and never go beyond budget. That’s why teams can finish projects on time and not let the client down only by using effective project management practices.
At JatApp we’re proud to have a strong team of PMs that deliver projects with 99% client satisfaction rate. Our company helped clients from all over the world to successfully complete their projects despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Need a hand? Never feel shy to contact us and let us help you with management of your dream project.