Projects: Where to start and where to end

Business Change

The start of the year also prompts us to think about the big things coming up throughout the year. Mirus manages a lot of technology projects to help companies with upgrades, migrations, mergers, technology refreshes and deployment of new technologies to bring about positive change for the organisation and its stakeholders.

If you have identified the need for change, this will help the planning thought process get started.

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A project is something that has a defined scope, a start and finish date and delivery requirement.

Projects are not restricted by size or importance, each is defined by individual components that are set to deliver a known benefit. Project delivery should be controlled, measured and monitored and in order to stop the cat being flung amongst the pigeons, here are our top tips for your project planning and delivery.

1. Ask yourself what are you actually try to achieve

There is a very big difference between what you want and what you need, the difference is usually demonstrated in cost or time. When scoping a project understand where you need to be now to feel immediate benefit and where you need to be in five years. Creating the bigger picture doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it all now, but it provides you a path to follow which will ultimately help your design you future self so it is fit for purpose.

2. Give yourself enough time and the right time

Projects need time; to be established, planned and delivered. If you rush the development of a project you’ll risk its success in delivering what you actually need. If you don’t establish a time scale for delivery the project won’t end and you will never reap the rewards of your hard work. Invest time at the start of the project, it’s easier to find the time before the clock starts ticking than to push to find those extra hours as you near the finish line.

3. Risk appetite

Before deciding on a project you need to understand the possible risks of what you are doing and whether you can manage these. Establishing an agreed risk appetite will help you decide on the how’s and when’s of project delivery. You’ll need to fully understand the impact of the work (you don’t necessarily need to understand the actual work!) and what this means to your business, at this point you can agree what is acceptable and use this to support your decision making through the duration of your project.

4. People make projects

As project sponsor it’s your prerogative to surround yourself with experts, whether this be project management, subject matter experts or administrative support. You can build a project team that is suitable for what you are doing and the support you need. People are often the biggest risk in projects, so make sure your project team has the capacity to support you and the relative approvals from their line managers to provide you the time that you need to make the project a success.

5. Be brave

Projects mean change and change is often one of the hardest parts of project delivery. You and your business need to understand why you are investing in sometimes an invisible project, what it means for you now and for the future. You need to understand the impact the change will have on business as usual activities and how this is handled. Clear, concise and regular communication between you, your project team and your users establishes the conversations that will support project change. Change often occurs within a project, to avoid your project going off piste, agree what you are and aren’t flexible on – make your requirements clear to your project team.

Stress Free6. Don’t panic

Things can go wrong. It’s important to maintained a balanced view if something goes wrong in your project, look for an immediate solution and prioritise this within the project, work arounds and temporary fixes are always an option to keep a project moving forward. Push the experts in your project team to provide solutions, reduce risk of recurrence and to keep you updated.

7. The finish line

Always pass it! Agree what the ‘end’ looks like, the point at which your project team stand down and you can agree that all objectives are completed. If there are follow up works, outstanding tasks or new issues, get them noted and actions agreed.