The goal of a project manager is to ensure that every aspect of a project runs smoothly and is completed with the least disruption to the business. To achieve this goal, the project must be contained, manageable and transparent.
One of the biggest projectpitfalls is “scope creep,” otherwise known as the tendency for a project to expand over time. Here are six rules to prevent the pain and problems of scope creep:
1. Agree on the scope and plan meticulously. Your project should be tightly structured, carefully budgeted and scrupulously planned before your work begins. Part of good planning is to build in time for unexpected snags along the way.
2. Analyze existing processes. Assess each function you are working on and define each stakeholder group’s role in your existing process. Understand what you have and how it works so that you can get to where you want to be.
3. Be realistic, and manage expectations. Guard against setting your expectations unrealistically high. For example, don’t start a project by promising an unrealistic rate of return before carefully researching the possible outcomes.
4. Keep your team happy. Clear vision and goals are keys to a healthy work environment. Reward good work, and be generous with positive feedback. Staff satisfaction is critical to your project’s success.
5. Communicate your progress, and finish on time. Keep your plan up to date, recording actual-versus-planned progress. Identify any deviations from the plan, and fix issues quickly. If you’ve maintained your schedule yet allowed for unexpected delays, you will still make your deadline.
6. Finish under or on budget. If you go over the budget on some items, go under budget on others. This way, you can control your costs.
A well-planned and executed automation project should, and likely will, provide a decent return on investment. But beware of scope creep—and don’t focus wholly on the outcome and neglect planning.