Project Standards – Must-Haves to Manage Projects Successfully

We invite you to a series of articles about project standards and their practical application.

You will learn what project standards are and why they are in use. In the next pieces we will also present the project standards that we have implemented in SolDevelo in the following areas:

  1. Communication 
  2. Work plan
  3. Project metrics and reports
  4. Agile approach in project management
  5. Quality Assurance and Maintenance (QA)
  6. Tools

As part of the case study – because this is the way of sharing knowledge that we like the most – we will discuss the results of the audit we have conducted in the organization, and share how we adopt standards in our projects. You will also find out what our future plans in this area are.  

Ready for a project journey? Join us! 

First stop – let’s take a look at what project standards are.

Project standards – do we really need them?

Imagine that you have to prepare for someone an exquisite dish that you have never cooked before. Do you want to experiment, choosing cooking methods and ingredients at a rough guess? Or maybe you prefer referring to a proven recipe, which will guide you step by step through all actions, and bring the expected result? Well, when you are running a project the situation is quite similar. Project standards not only make life easier, setting the rules of the project game, but also allow you to reduce the risk of failure.

Without delving into the thicket of definitions, let’s take the simplest one: project standards are the rules and conventions governing the way in which a project is conducted. They may be driven by organizational practices or by the project’s unique requirements, and may address any aspect of a project, from the technology that will be implemented to the way in which meetings will be conducted and documented

The standards document tasks, methods, tools and levels of the project management. They have the following objects: 

  • to enhance the project management quality, 
  • to improve the communication through the prevention of misunderstanding, 
  • to reduce costs, 
  • to ensure the international cooperation.

The benefits of using project standards:

 

  • Increased chances of project success

The standards, developed by a team in the course of in-depth analysis and on the basis of experience gained, are the way of conducting a project, which – taking into account all business conditions – works best and allows to maintain the highest effectiveness.  

 

  • Standardization of the ways of conducting all company projects

Properly defined standards allow for their replication – so it is a good idea to treat them not as burdensome formalities, but as a practical signpost that will also guide us through other projects we are involved in. This approach to standards facilitates the creation of new project teams or modification of existing ones, and in a broader perspective, allows you to build a brand that stands out from the market competition. 

 

  • Improvement in project management (facilitating the knowledge flow between projects)

Having a coherent framework that determines the way of conducting and the course of projects, we can be confident about the transfer of knowledge and good practices between them and the teams running projects. It increases the quality of service provided to customers.

 

  • Enabling consistent scaling

If we know exactly why something worked and what should be avoided – why not repeat the achieved success again and again or with a new client? It is also easier to gain new customers if we can claim to have tested and implemented standards. A new project? We know how to get started and how to run it wisely! Probably nothing is more conducive to the consistent scaling of the business than good project standards.

Projects Standards – has anyone seen them for real or is it just a PM legend?

Here, at SolDevelo, project standards were a kind of a company’s fairytale for quite some time. We had a few rules, best practices etc., but not every project was on the same page. This time we have decided to make it 100% properly, so we got each and everyone on board, right from the start of this challenging internal project. Here is the exact recipe on how we want to achieve that. 

 

Step 1. Gather as many thoughts and ideas as possible

To pick the most accurate standards, we needed to write them all down first. Since Project Standards are an important piece of our OKR initiative, a special project group was formed. We have figured out that the most convenient way to proceed was through a series of workshops. This dedicated taskforce actively collaborated and opinions collided inspiringly. It turned out to be a very productive method as we collected more than 70 suggestions! Results were published on our Confluence knowledge base for further consideration.

 

Step 2. Select the game changers

Now the real game has started. How to pick from a pool this big? That is when the Leaders came in. As most experienced and skillful ones, their task was to select standards’ must-haveselements that can not be missed in any given project. So they voted and came to the conclusion that there are precisely 31 items which must be included in SolDevelo Project Standards. 31 sweet spots to capture total control of project success (in a perfect unchanging world, which of course does not exist 🙂 ).

 

Step 3. Iterative approach

As a software company, we strive for continuous improvement. This time, it could not be otherwise. Having in mind that you can not steer a parked car, we applied the standards to the first project right away. The ones who are responsible for its implementation are our Project Managers. As we proceed to fulfill all the standards, we will always have in mind that it is not the final version. Rather just the beginning. While adding standards to the growing number of existing projects, we will focus on discovering improvements over time. There is no hesitation to add, modify or even delete some of the existing standards. We treat it very seriously and take pride in our iterative mindset!

 

Step 4. Find connections

We have to admit that this is the hardest part of the recipe. To connect the dots and notice dependencies between standards and metrics such as predictability, velocity or cycle time (if you are keen to learn more about SolDevelo’s metrics, check out THIS POST). However, that is the goal hereto find the scalable synergy between standards and metrics to deliver partners’ projects more sustainably. This step can last very long and actually, that is the place where we are stuck at the moment, so there are no revealing concepts. YET! We will definitely keep you posted when we find some interesting tips!

 

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