Nine Elements of Project Management in New Product Development

1. A uniform project life cycle. This consists of a definition of phases, deliverables, key milestones, and success criteria for each group involved in the project. This is also sometimes referred to as a methodology.

2. Project requirements, objectives, and scope must be documented. It is also essential that a system be in place to ensure that the project requirements and scope are stabilized as early in the life cycle as possible.

3. A work authorization and change control system. A frequent source of problems on projects involves the expansion of the scope of work without adding value to the overall project. Change control must include formal systems for reviewing, evaluating, and authorizing changes to scope after the project has begun.

4. Defined roles for project team members and functional supervisors must be identified and documented. Similarly, a system of communication between the project participants must be established.

5. A planning system must be in place that allows for the creation of plans based on organizational capability, not wishful thinking. The planning system allows for the creation of the scope (WBS), schedule, and budget plans.

6. Quality metrics and systems to ensure quality must be in place in the organization. These systems must include identified metrics for each element of the WBS as well as procedures for assessing quality.

7. Tracking and variance analyses are vital functions for controlling the project. Projects are managed by an exception process in which deviations from plans are reported and acted upon. An effective project management process requires regular reports and regular meetings of the project team to identify when things are off target. Schedule slips, cost overruns, open issues, new risks, and identified problems must be dealt with as early as possible.

8. An escalation process is a set of procedures that defines how problems, open issues, and risks will be addressed in a timely manner. Issues and problems are inevitable in projects. A good escalation procedure requires problems and issues be addressed by the lowest level of management first. If the lowest level cannot resolve the problem, it is escalated to higher levels until a resolution occurs.

9. Corrective action decisions are necessary when variations from the plan are detected. In some cases trade-offs must be made. Systems and procedures must be in place to address how corrective action decisions will be made.

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