- Make sure that an internal project manager is in charge of the project
This is one of the most critical aspects of successful project delivery. The internal PM already knows the organisation, its strengths and weaknesses, in what way different stakeholders need to be engaged and who the top resources are.
- Assign a technical expert to act as a support to the PM
A great PM is seldom a technical domain expert since the personal traits required to succeed as a PM tend to differ from those needed in the careers of domain experts. Therefore, it is a good idea to assign a senior domain expert to support the PM. This support would entail attending steering committee meetings along with the PM to help answer technical questions arising in the committee’s discussions. It is a great way to assist the PM in managing the demands of stakeholders represented in the steering committee.
- Start with a small team
Start with a small team and grow it organically as and when the need arises. The number one challenge with a larger responsible unit is communication and information management. Starting with a big team requires an entire communication infrastructure to be in place and work efficiently from the start. This can be rarely achieved in a setting of a large working group from scratch, so such a structure is likely to be challenging to manage effectively and hence cause so many overhead costs that the success of the entire project may be put at risk.
- Hire requirement analysts with combined expertise
It is crucial to enlist requirement analysts with a combination of in-depth domain knowledge and software development experience when working on a project with complex technical components. These individuals will quickly build rapport with both business and IT departments, bridging the knowledge gaps between the domains. This is the only way to ensure adequate progress once the project enters the implementation phase.
- Run technical interviews
Surprisingly often, project managers do not conduct in-depth technical interviews with the team members before bringing them on their projects. If the PM him/herself does not possess enough technical skills to perform the interview, enlist the most qualified person on the project to do so or, if that is not an alternative, recruit an internal resource with technical abilities to help the assess the project candidates.
- Enlist people with previous relevant experience
When embarking on an implementation project within a new or developing area with technical components, always make sure to bring in experts with prior experience from the same or similar challenges. Resist the pressure to use internal resources if they do not have relevant skills and experience.
- Closely monitor and manage the project risk list
Always maintain a detailed list of project risks. This list should be a standing agenda on the steering committee, and responsibility for mitigating and managing the main risks that the project cannot deal with efficiently on its own should be delegated to the relevant steering committee members.
- Get rid of underperforming project contributors
It can be uncomfortable to remove people from the project, especially if it is an employee. Surprisingly often there is a tendency to keep on external staff as well, despite them exhibiting negative productivity. One of the key benefits of using external consultants is that it is usually (depending on local regulations) a lot easier to get rid of them compared to an employee. Use that to your benefit and let go of underperforming project staff.