Apr 27, 2011

5 Phases for Successful Project Management Strategy

Many philosophies of project management exist in today’s business world with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) garnering most of the industry’s attention. To yield improved or desired results, both are based upon structure and organization in the management of a process. These processes, while different in their exact steps, are quite similar in the overall objective, approach and reasoning. Both processes are designed to produce the highest quality results while maintaining organization and process discipline. The PMI process is to Initiate, Plan, Execute, Monitor and Control, and Close. The LSS methodology is known as the DMAIC approach: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. LSS is typically associated with manufacturing because it has an emphasis on quality and reducing errors, but many of its principles complement the PMI process. One of these processes is not necessarily better than the other, but the Project Manager’s application and selection of the correct methodology to follow during a project is very important.  

At LEAP, the fundamental philosophy and methodology we follow is a hybrid of both the PMI and LSS processes. By blending the PMI steps for Initiate, Plan and Execute with the LSS principles for continuous Improvement and Quality Control, we are able to adapt the process to fit the complexity of our traditional and digital marketing projects. The deliverables of our projects can vary from an interactive website to a banner advertisement and media buy to a print media campaign. Each of these deliverables, although different in the final product, typically has a similar core of Creative and Development phases. The role of the Project Manager is to successfully follow the following five process guidelines to ensure a project is successful in the eyes of the client and LEAP.

  1. Know the Measure of Success: With the launch of a project, the assigned Project Manager first seeks to understand the scope of the project, the deliverables and the Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Most notably, the KPIs will dictate much of the Project Manager’s methods and motivations through the life of the project. These KPIs may include budget, hours, due date, and the overall efficiency goal of the project. With the KPIs as the foundation of the plan, the project will be correctly aligned with the overall goals.  
  2. Plan and Organize: Once the Project Manager understands the objectives and KPIs of the project, the actual plan of how to achieve them is determined. This planning typically results in a timeline of the required tasks in the most effective order. For a Project Manager, the timeline is a by-product of the more valuable process of forming a project’s organization and structure. A mis-planned project may have an attractive timeline on the surface, but without the depth of understanding and coordination beneath it, the project will lack the agility to avoid potential roadblocks, delays, or failures. For this reason, the timeline is reviewed and scrutinized internally to ensure that depth and logic are both present. Once the timeline has been revised to the best outline of the most effective project plan, it is used as the guide for the remainder of the process. 
  3. Execute the Plan: After discovering where the project must go and formulating a plan of how to get there, a Project Manager must see it through. This means leading the project team in the execution, keeping the project team focused, informed and motivated throughout the lifecycle of the project. Also, the ability to quickly and efficiently implement changes while the project is in progress has an immense impact on the overall satisfaction level of the final product. At the end of the day, it comes down to executing the plan and delivering quality results.  
  4. Deliver Quality Results: Quality results are expected in order to inspect and evaluate the results of the project through the Project Manager. Delivery begins weeks before the client actually receives the product, as there are several rounds of internal review, proofing, testing, and revisions. The KPIs are again reviewed and the deliverable is measured to determine the overall match of the product to the project objectives.
  5. Assess Success: Upon the completion of a project by delivery to the client, the evaluation of the project’s success is then the focus of the Project Manager. The Project Manager is expected to lead recap meetings with the project team. Items discussed include how the project went, what lessons were learned, suggestions for future projects, and to celebrate the successes. This recap is often invaluable in providing insights into team dynamics and ways to improve efficiency.

Just as the marketplace and technology continue to evolve, LEAP’s project management style and process must also evolve. At LEAP, these guidelines serve the Project Manager as expectations and best practices to measure success. Through thoughtful execution, a digital marketing project can be steered toward reaching its highest potential and creating a successful marketing campaign for every client.  


(Contributed by Andrew Bauer, Senior Project Manager)