• Donald Davis

Starting A New Project? Three Things Critical To Project Success!

Don Davis PhD, MBA 

In Life Sciences projects are often complex with very tight timelines.  A client came to me recently and wanted to know if I could support an urgent project. I took on the project, and as I started to meet the team, they wanted to get started with executing. Although I believe that execution is critical, and we all need to get started right away, having a charter, roles and responsibilities, and regular reporting outlined are essential to project success. I was once told, that getting started right is a bit like buttoning up a dress shirt, get that bottom button wrong and there is no way to fix it without unbuttoning the whole thing.   To be successful in the end you will need:

Charter – A good project title will have areas for the following: Title, Scope, Objectives, People Involved, Sponsor(s), and Finances. Your charter sets up the two items below. It also will become the point at which the team is aiming. If you are looking to lower costs or improve load times, the numbers for these targets need to be on the charter so that the project team can aim for them. If there is a misalignment in a project or if a project fails the failure frequently starts in the charter.  

Roles and Responsibilities – Project managers are often not subject matter experts (SME’s) in the items we are project managing although it does help to have some base knowledge about the project. The roles that people carry out on the team are critical and need to be defined at the start. I would not build a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) chart, but knowing who on the project team is gathering requirements and who is executing specific tasks is vital to your success. 

Regular Reporting – Regular meetings like project meetings are essential for getting started. Who in your organization needs to know what is going on to stay up to date with the project’s progress? Core team meetings should have people inside of the project team and individuals that need to be kept up to date with what is happening on a project. Steering Committee meetings are used to break through barriers and make decisions that cannot be made at the project team or core team levels alone.   Use these three things to drive you towards successful project execution on your next project.  If you need a project charter template, I have included a basic one that you can copy and use. Blank Project Charter

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