5 Tips for Adopting Project Standards as Project Manager

Sunday, July 7, 2013, AM | Leave Comment

In many companies, in any industry, standards are used to comply with the International Organization for Standardization, better known as ISO. It simply is a seal of safety, reliability and of good quality. If you’re interested in following ISO standards in your project, ask someone responsible who understands these standards and can tell you how they have been implemented.

There are project standards and best practices that you should follow in bringing about your project to completion. The sooner you start, the better.

If you, as project manager, have never worked with ISO standards, it’s not as hard as you might think but it’s not that easy either. Some say it’s a waste of time with all that documentation to write. But I think that’s got to be a very naive thinking.

Even if your project – services and / products – are not going outside the U.S., you still should follow standards within your organization and especially on your project because that’s what you should be concerned about.

However, if your organization has not implemented ISO standards and it’s a bigger task for you to handle, then you’ve come to the right place to understand and implement project standards.

A project standard is a documented set of guidelines to follow for undertaking projects.

Two Worldwide Standards
The two most popular Worldwide Standards:

  1. PMI Standard

    This standard was originally developed with the American target market in mind. If you’re an American-based culture, use PMI standards.

  2. Prince2 Standard

    This standard was originally developed with the UK, and the English speaking Commonwealth market in mind. If you’re an English-based culture, use Prince2 standards.

  3. However, both these standards provide basic generic guidelines for all types of projects, regardless of the industry. These two Standards use different terminology and have different Project Life Cycles, so I suggest you choose only one standard to follow for your project.

Project Management Methodology

Project Management Methodology

 

Once you’ve made decision between the two, here are 5 tips on how to implement the relevant Standard for your project:

  1. Start with Terminology

    Like I stated above, both standards have different terminology in place. So within the confines of the particular Standards you have chosen for your project, define and develop your terminology for the project. You may give it the title “Glossary of Terms” and can go at the end of your project documentation.

    If no glossary of terms has ever been developed for other projects and you are the first one to introduce it, then give it extra time to define it for your particular project and for all others in the future as well. That will then become standard of glossary of terms for future projects.

  2. You then let your team know, and train them if necessary, to use the terminology throughout the project.

  3. Implement Project Life Cycle (PLC)

    The two standards have different definitions of Project Life Cycle which is nothing but a series of steps that need to be followed to deliver projects, from start to finish, on time and within budget.

    If you can’t find anything regarding Project Life Cycle for previous projects and you’re the first one to define, develop and implement it, I suggest you take this step and when done, publish it so it’ll be easier for other project managers to follow in future.

    If PLC has already been published, go over it, read it thoroughly, and understand it. Discuss it with others – your team members and your seniors. If need be, modify it but only if absolutely necessary. Don’t reinvent the wheel as it’ll cause confusion, reduce motivation and perhaps cause delays.

    But for new projects, it will have the opposite effect, by providing structure and giving teams a solid delivery path when they start out.

  4. Follow the Guidelines

    When you establish the above two steps, you start following them in your current project. In each of the two Standards – PMI and Prince2, there is a set of guidelines and common principles that you must follow to boost your chance of success.

    If these guidelines are too elaborate and you just can’t follow some because they don’t fit in your current project, decide on the ones you want to follow.

    The next logical step is to communicate these to your team and provide on-going training to ensure that the guidelines are ingrained in the culture of your project and organization at large.

  5. Be Selective

    Like I said above, if some guidelines don’t fit in your project, don’t adopt them. The parts of guidelines that you choose must be a 100% fit to adopt them.

    If some guidelines don’t fit in, you’re best to select those parts which you believe can be integrated into your project and company culture, with minimal disruption to your project activities.

  6. Ensure Alignment

    What does it mean to “ensure alignment?” When you have successfully implemented the Standard in your organization, particularly your project, you now need to ensure it’s rigorously followed.

    You ought to review projects on a continual basis to ensure that the terminology, project life cycle and guidelines are followed consistently so that the project team has the maximum chance of success.

    Everyone interested in one of the two Standards you have selected and followed must be in synch with it and you & they must be on the same page as the saying goes.

In a Nutshell
Already developed templates help you implement Worldwide Standards, as they are aligned to PMI® and Prince2®.

However, you can customize the Terminology, Life Cycle and Guidelines to fit the needs of your organization.

This column is © copyright to www.Method123.com and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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