Networking technologies are vital elements in the modern digital economy. Multiple interconnected networks create the backbone that delivers the information and services we use every day. Due to their significance in providing digital connectivity, projects involving any networking infrastructure changes must adhere to strict project management discipline. Whether the project consists of the installation, configuration, or upgrade of a network, it needs to be delivered on time, within budget, and meet its stated goals.
Avoiding Project Failures
There are a variety of reasons that cause a project to fail. Causes typically come down to a lack of planning and poor communication.
One of the leading causes of project failures is a misalignment between the project goals and business strategy. Typically the underlying reason is a lack of executive sponsorship and support. As there is no communication from the boardroom, projects do not align with the strategic objectives of the business, resulting in the outcomes not meeting their goals.
Another primary cause of project failure is insufficient or misallocated resources. If a project manager (PM) does not have timely access to resources, delivering the project on time is impossible. Again this failure falls under poor communication. The PM must communicate and coordinate continuously to ensure project success, and that includes the allocation of resources.
Poor management of scope changes is another reason for many project failures. A project with multiple changes is essentially a project where the team has failed to perform proper planning. Unforeseen and unmitigated risks is another factor that forces scope changes in a project. PMs must find a mechanism to mitigate scope changes as they often result in late delivery and budget overruns.
5 Project Management Tips to Ensure Success
1 – Implement Proper Planning
Proper planning is crucial to project success. When formulating a project plan, it is vital that you determine and agree on accurate deliverables. If your networking project involves multiple sites, you need to gather the pertinent information from each location. Only then can you create your plan and confirm the project scope and goals with the relevant executive sponsors. Before you start your project, you should also test and verify critical dependencies. Taking this extra step upfront can pay dividends in the long run as external factors often cause project failures.
2 – Confirm You Have Access to Sufficient Resources
You cannot deliver a successful project unless you have access to sufficient resources. If your project does not have an adequate supply of budget, time, equipment, or people, delivering it will be a challenge. It is also vital that you factor in every resource your project requires. In some instances, you may need access to third-party services, and if you neglect to make these part of your plan, you could end up with delays.
3 – Develop and Maintain a Communications Strategy
A project manager’s primary goal is to communicate and coordinate multiple resources to ensure successful delivery. With a lack of communication being a leading cause of project failure, having a formal communication plan is vital. PMs should hold daily, weekly, and monthly meetings with relevant stakeholder groups to ensure the continuous flow of information.
4 – Develop and Implement a Proper Change Management Strategy
PMs must have a plan in place for how the organization will be adopting and using the network. As the project unfolds, it is important that staff be included in discussions about how their work may be changing. They must also be incorporated in mapping out new business processes, roles, and responsibilities.
Training plans must be put in place, documentation developed, trainers assigned, and workshops schedules developed to orient relevant staff toward the new infrastructure and its impact on the way they work.
5 – Expect Surprises and Have a Contingency Plan Ready
As the saying goes, “Even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Project management may involve a great deal of planning, but your success is measured by how well you execute. It is vital that you build contingency into your project to ensure you have the flexibility you need when the unexpected happens. Where possible try and identify risks and manage these during the project implementation phase. For fixed price deliverables, it is always a good idea to build a contingency buffer into your plan. In this way, should an unforeseen issue arise, you can still deliver on time and budget.
Project Success Rests in Proper Planning and Communication
Most projects fail because of a lack of planning and poor communication. By following a proper planning process and developing an effective communications strategy, you can avoid many project management pitfalls. Confirming before project kick-off that you have sufficient project resources, having a change management strategy, and building contingency into your plan are further measures you can take to ensure project success.
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