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Five Project Management Tools You Should Be Using

toolboxWe’ve all worked on projects or at organizations where following project management processes and creating deliverables has become an end in itself, rather than the means to effective project delivery. On the other hand, we all have ‘go-to’ tools or templates that we swear by, believing they’re critical to project success. The trick is figuring out which tools and templates really do help.

To that end, CEB PMO Leadership Council has done extensive quantitative analysis on the effect of hundreds of project management processes, tools, and activities. As it turns out, the vast majority of them don’t matter that much to the effective delivery of project business outcomes. But a handful of them do. So which tools and templates should be part of every PM’s toolkit?

The Five Tools

The best project managers increase their chance of delivering project business benefits by using the following five tools:

  1. A shared vision of project success. The most effective PMs spend time up front documenting and building consensus on what success ‘looks like’ for their projects. They socialize this vision of success with key project stakeholders to make sure it is a shared one, and consistently return to it as a guide when faced with decisions about project scope change.

    Involving the project sponsor and other stakeholders in creating a shared vision for the project can improve project business outcomes by over 30%.

  2. An assessment of risks to value delivery. The majority of project risk assessments focus almost exclusively on identifying project execution risks—things that will prevent delivery against budget, schedule, or scope targets.

    The best PMs expand their risk assessment to include risks to business value delivery, including things like stakeholder engagement and user readiness.

  3. A stakeholder dossier. Leading PMs go beyond simple stakeholder management tasks like project status reporting or generic communications to build strong stakeholder partnerships. The foundation for these partnerships is a clear understanding of the motivations, posture toward project-related change, and influencing ability of key stakeholders.

    By systematically capturing and using this information to tailor stakeholder engagement and communication, PMs can boost project business outcomes by up to 20%.

  4. A project interdependency map. In today’s highly interconnected project management environment PMs need to understand how their project impacts other projects, and how other projects might impact it.

    Mapping and tracking these interdependencies—including data, deliverables, and common end users in addition to technical functionality—can increase project business outcomes by up to 52%.

  5. An evaluation of the project’s change impact. Just delivering the project isn’t enough to ensure that it achieves projected business benefits. The best PMs think hard about what types of change, e.g., role redesign, skills shifts, or a new reporting structure, the project requires from end users.

    Effectively documenting this change up front and sequencing it across the project lifecycle can generate up to a 60% greater project business outcomes.

4 Responses

  • Randy Tangco says:

    I think another tool you should have is a requirements management and prioritization and the work breakdown structure. These are fundamental items that have been missed which are critical inputs to any project.

  • Dennis St. Denis says:

    I totally agree with Randy the Work Breakdown structure is a key. The WBS identifies the Scope of project in which Time and Costs can be estimated. Following a Project Management methodology based on PMBOK and communicating the processes is also key.

    Depending on the size/type of the project not all ellements or processes are required however the PM should always have included within Project Management Plan subsiduary management plans for Scope(including – processes, WBS), Time (including – processes, schedule), Costs (including – processes, budgets) and Communication (including – processes, stakeholders)

    This is always a contentious topic. I have seen it raised on other sites and always gets a lot of feedback.

  • Antony D'Cruz says:

    Great article. I like that it focuses on how to make a project successful ‘post go-live’ so that it actually delivers the intended value.

    I’ve seen too many IT project teams focus too much (entirely?) on the project execution tasks necessary to ensure a successful ‘go-live’ that they neglect to pay attention to this even more important aspect.

  • Felix Clark says:

    You have brought out some well researched tips that can significantly boost project business outcomes. Using an online project management tool can also improve such outcomes and its use has become quite important for businesses’s success. We also use a project management tool called proofhub for managing our projects and can say firmly that it has made a huge difference to our projects.

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