Project management guide: Tips, strategies, best practices

Project management plays a crucial role in enabling companies to transform business and execute strategy effectively. Here is a look at project management and all the key elements that have made it a necessity for businesses of every size, and industry.

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Project deliverables

The ultimate goal of a project is known as a deliverable. This is something that prompted a customer, internal or external, to initiate the project in the first place. It can be a tangible or intangible deliverable such as software, a structure, a system enhancement, or even an operational improvement. Understanding and meeting the needs of your customer and what the end result or deliverable should be is critical to the customer deeming a project a success or not.

Project milestones and tasks

To provide a deliverable to a customer, project managers, their teams, and other stakeholders need to set a schedule for key milestones along the way. This is important for keeping projects under control. Milestones can be a date, result or some other measure. To meet milestones, smaller tasks will be assigned to groups or individuals to accomplish. Milestones will be dependent on the success of the smaller tasks.

Project management software and tools

Having the right project team and methodology is not enough to guarantee success, the right set of tools is also essential to project management success. Project management tools and templates increase team productivity and effectiveness and prepare the organization for changes brought about by high-impact projects. CIO has compiled the ultimate project management toolkit as well as some open source tools to help you plan, execute, monitor, and successfully polish off your next high-impact project.

Analytics and project management

Knowing how to use data analytics to improve project outcomes is a high-value skill. In fact, worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics is expected to grow to more than $187 billion by 2019 and the project management industry is projected to hit $5.81 trillion by 2020. Organizations are leveraging data analytics to improve their project performance. Ted Friedman, vice president and analyst at Gartner, predicts the following four trends will drive fundamental changes in the use of data and analytics:

  • Instead of just reflecting business performance, data analytics will become the driver of operations.
  • Data and analytics will become infused in an organization's architecture from end to end, creating a holistic approach — and this will include strategic project management in EPMOs.
  • Executives will use data and analytics for business strategy and growth, creating new additional roles for professionals.
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