Managing large projects – large-scale endeavors involving multiple vendors and internal stakeholders – is a special skill. When leading a large project, all of the challenges of regular project management are multiplied – and the pursuit of a common goal is no guarantee that disparate teams will work together harmoniously. Large projects can be daunting for even the most experienced project managers – but here are 5 tips that will help relieve the tension and promote success.
- Establish common terms When managing large projects, technical language barriers can get in the way, preventing teams from understanding each other. Different vendors – and even different departments within the same organization – frequently have their own in-house terminology. When stakeholders on a project are using different words to describe the same things, it’s easy for misunderstanding to occur. One of the first things anyone responsible for managing a large project should do is establish common terminology for all stakeholders to use. This eliminates many of the misunderstandings that can occur.
- Make time for collaboration Since large projects bring together multiple disparate teams, it can be especially difficult to prevent them working as separate teams rather than a coordinated whole. One way to combat this is to ensure that those participating in the project have regular contact from the outset. For example, at 1E, we’ve found that holding daily status meetings during the initial stages of a project not only provides a forum for reviewing and tracking current progress, but also gives teams the opportunity to build a rapport by empowering them to discuss risks and roadblocks.
- Keep everybody briefed Coordination across multiple stakeholders can often prove tricky – especially when there are changes to be made. Providing each stakeholder team with documentation and allowing a period for review and clarification will help ensure your project plan is correct and that everyone knows what they’re doing and which deadlines they need to meet.
- Be flexible One of the pitfalls of large projects is that they often overrun. This can often be the result of overly rigid timelines that don’t take into account the fact that when it comes to software projects, change is a given. Software projects that involve working with multiple vendors often also involve working with multiple versions of software. Deadlines and timelines must provide some flexibility to account for updates, security patching and testing cycles.
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes Regardless of our abilities or level of experience, we all make mistakes. If mistakes are made, the best way to keep productivity high is to bring things out into the open immediately and start working on a resolution. Maintaining a sense of proportion when mistakes occur also helps to maintain equilibrium as a project becomes intense and work load is high. At the end of the day, all parties are working together towards the common goal of a successful project – and that should be the point of focus, rather than individual mistakes.