Project success is defined as the point at which all parts of a project come together with a balance that allows you to say:
- you’ve completed the work,
- made a profit, and
- establisheda happy, satisfied customer for life
The likelihood that every project can be set up for equal success lies in understanding the balance between these three resources - People, Time and Money.
You could have all the time in the world to execute a plan, but without adequate funding or resources to accomplish the work, it means nothing. Or, you could have a great project plan and an army of resources to work on it. Without the time or funds to properly execute the plan, you would have no results. It's a tedious balance - some call it a juggling act - to keep these three balanced for success (check out our complete guide to resource management here). Let's take a look at how this juggling act works.
Successfully Beginning a Project
Much effort occurs before work on a project begins. An idea becomes a project when someone approaches you with a need they have or you think of creating something you think someone else will need. Either way, now you have a reason to create a project plan. Your mind races through issues like how you will fund it, who will do the work and when it needs done. To answer the questions around these needs, requirements are gathered. You have to put in enough effort on designs and prototypes to confirm the project is feasible and estimate the effort in terms of time to completion (sometimes referred to as time to market), costs to develop, as well as the right number and skill-set of individuals to do the work.
A Detailed Project Plan
A detailed project plan is generated from the general plan. This plan accounts for every 'to do' item. Each 'to do' item has its own requirement of time, costs and resource needs. They make up the total demands for the plan. To get final approval for the project you need to present to the customer the estimated cost and time for completion. If the customer approves the schedule and the costs, you can staff the plan and begin to execute. What happens next will come as no surprise to most project oriented companies.
You could have all the time in the world to execute a plan, but without adequate funding or resources to accomplish the work, it means nothing.
You secure the business and then start to assign the resources, only to find that they are already assigned to other work. You determine that the resources that are available don’t have the necessary skill-set. You have to go through an activity known as load balancing to make adjustments in the assignments that allow all project needs to be fulfilled. Some resources will remain to finish the tasks they were previously assigned to while others will be re-assigned to new projects, while their previous assignments are back filled.
If you don’t have the right skill-set on staff, you may need to hire or subcontract a portion of the project. This may cost more than if you were able to staff internally. In this situation, you need to figure out a way to reduce costs somewhere else in the project so funds can be allocated to cover the cost of subcontractors. Then, you need to determine whether a different set of resources affects the timing of the completion of the project.
Continuous Timing Evaluation
To be realistic, you will do this at the beginning of the project, as well as, periodically throughout the life of the project. When one factor changes, it is likely the other two may be affected – and not in a positive way. That’s why it takes a juggling act to keep the project on track and on budget. If you can master balancing these three factors across all the active projects, you are on your way to successful projects. Successful projects produce profits, which earns you the right to entertain future opportunities.
The trick is being able to build repeat business by managing this balancing act and becoming great at what you do best. Great project management and accounting software enables you to plan for the project, manage resources and capture every step from the inception of the idea to delivery of the finished services. With the captured data, not only can you analyze your profitability, you can estimate the next opportunity with confidence.
Project success is simple when you keep a balance between People, Time and Money.
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