Managing Large Scale Projects: Best Practices

Large scale projects can sometimes be a tough nut to crack. The stakes are high and if everything functions properly, the success is worth it. But what if it doesn’t?

According to the survey, conducted by the University of Oxford and McKinsey, on average large projects run 45% over estimated budget and 7% over time deadlines. In addition, they have found out that the longer the project is scheduled to run, the more likely it will exceed the timelines. Moreover, 17% of such failures can easily threaten the very existence of a company.

Issues faced when managing large scale projects

The statistics is alarming, but what reasons stand behind these figures? Let’s take a look at the problems faced by most large projects.

The main reason for projects’ failures is the lack of clarity. Unclear objectives, unclear focus, lack of concentration on the goals, lack of business focus… Very often the employees are simply unaware of the goals of the project they are working on. How is it possible for the project to move on if it is totally unclear where exactly it should move?

Technical issues represent another “ax” that killed a lot of projects. It happens when the project is started without the preceding analysis of technologies or when the technical requirements are changing all the time, or even worse, when the demands are unrealistically high and unreasonable. When the project targets for more than it can really handle, the result leaves much to be desired.

The success of the project depends on its team, as does the failure. If the team is lacking the necessary skills, is not united or motivated enough, it is the quality of a project that suffers first.

And last but not least, large scale projects owe a lot to the management. Unrealistic project delivery timelines or inefficient planning can ruin the project faster than all of the factors mentioned above.

Managing large scale projects best practices

So what can be done to resolve these issues, thus boosting the performance of your project? Judging from our experience, our company suggests 4 crucial aspects you have to pay special attention to.

large scale project issues and management

1. Managing strategy

Oftentimes companies make a common mistake: they concentrate on the budget and the deadlines instead of pursuing the efficiency. Sticking to the budget and managing on time is without doubt important, but finding the most efficient way will save you both time and money. Bill Gates once said: “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because he’ll find an easy way to do it.”

In practice it means reducing the number of unnecessary actions as much as possible. A good idea would be to try to speed up the customers’ feedbacks. It also helps to collect a high quality marketing information. Instead of setting huge goals, try to divide them into smaller tasks, create some milestones, in this way you can make them more achievable.

The strategy also depends on the skills of stakeholders. They way too often are seduced by the price of deals, while what they should do is to foresee the benefits of the deal in the long run. If the executives, vendors, partners and regulators think further, choose the deals which pay off instead of simply the cheaper ones, the project is one step closer to success.

2. A balance between business and technology

A successful project is a two-way coin. Only the technical side is not enough for the project, as business solutions make a vast part of it. That is why it is so important to keep the balance. All the business executives have to be aware of the technical peculiarities of the project. At the same time it is obligatory for the technicians to have the full understanding of the project’s business objectives and tasks. It concerns everyone working on the project, every person striving for its successful delivery.

3. Creating a strong team

As a famous proverb says, teamwork makes the dream work. In Eastern Peak Software we know that creating a powerful team of professionals is a key to success. If you are dealing with a large scale project, every element of this huge mechanism has to be in its place. If every member of the team does his best for the good of the project, everything is real and achievable.

There are different ways to keep this system working at full force. First of all, the workers need to be motivated and love what they are doing. Secondly, there needs to be a quick and flexible change-management and a good system of risk assessment. In IT changes are the driving force, if you can’t adjust, you’ll lose.

To make these adjustments possible, create an efficient reporting system. Daily reports, newsletters, desktop calendars marking milestones all simplify the realtime management. A nice solution would be to introduce a so called “change agent” in each team. He will be responsible for the change management in his team, which makes the process more local.

4. Core Project Management practices

Large scale projects need special management. Linear strategies and waterfall for example will not work here. You need something more dynamic, overall. An efficient solution would also be to work on an end-to-end basis. It means that the team works on the project from A to Z. It helps to avoid confusion and misunderstanding during stage transitions and ensure the responsibility.

In order to keep everything going smoothly, do not forget to make regular “check-ups” of your projects. Analyze them following our criteria and you will see all the shortcomings and know how to efficiently eliminate them. We hope you’ll find our advice useful as it comes from the company who knows for sure how to deliver large scale projects on time, on budget and on value.