In these challenging times, it’s critical to deliver projects that make your business more successful. Whether the goal is to build profitability into the balance sheet or improve how your business serves customers. The stakes for successfully delivering change have perhaps never been higher. What words of wisdom will inspire you to do this? Sure, there is plenty of advice and tips for project management success online – but when you’re faced with retail specific challenges in your retail projects, you need advice that is relevant and actionable.

Here are 5 of my top tips for project management success when running and managing retail change and transformation projects.

Clearly Aligned to the Business Strategy

Projects which are linked to the overall business strategy have greater likelihood of success. Not every projects needs to be directly aligned to the business strategy, nor is this a death sentence for those that are not.

However, each project should be in support or in alignment with the strategy. Without this alignment, it could look to the outside world that the business is a little schizophrenic. One part of the business is pulling in one direction with another part going the opposite way.

Being aligned to the business strategy can help “grease the wheels”. It can make life a little easier. Stakeholders are more likely to get on board. Resources are more freely available. The project is deemed higher priority than others. However, in return, there is greater pressure to deliver.

If you’re not sure how your project aligns to the strategy, it could be harder to mobilise the change. More difficult to motivate your project team. Also, the project risks being deprioritised versus those that are clearly aligned to the strategy. This could result in resources being diverted away from the project or even with the initiative being postponed. This is arguably the #1 way to block your project success.

The first of my tips for project management success is therefore to understand how your project aligns to the business strategy. If you’re not sure then discuss with your sponsor. Make it clear to those involved in or around your project how the work is aligned to the overall strategy.

Building an Approach for the Project

Projects are more likely to be successful if they are clear with what direction they are taking.

Without this clear sense of direction, effort will be misspent. The project will flounder in a confused way, leading to wasted time and money.

Even with a clear end point, you’ll also need to know the route you’ll take from A to B. Sure, it may change as time goes by and as new information comes to light. But, you will need to be able to lead both the project and those involved in the project in the right direction.

You need to be clear on what’s involved to clarify this approach early in the project. The different stages. The various deliverables. Also, how everything fits together.

So, the next piece of advice is to work up a clear strategy and approach for your project. Have a set of clear and agreed goals. Understand exactly what is involved in delivering these goals. Know which elements will be essential and how they depend on each other. Furthermore, you need to know how you plan to move the project towards the end zone, starting now.

Helpful Support to Drive Progress

In my recent article about how to execute a new idea, one of the key points was around building support and sponsorship.

This really is important for successfully delivering change.

Successful projects never happen by themselves. They need people. People to do the work. People to back it. Yes, it sounds obvious so just make sure you don’t forget this.

It’s essential to have the right stakeholder support through the organisation. They can help direct and shape the project. They are also on hand to support when challenges inevitably occur. Your stakeholder support and project team will drive progress to deliver your goals.

So, perhaps one of the biggest tips for project management success is to build helpful support in what you’re trying to do. Keep these people engaged throughout. Listen to their feedback. Allow them to help the project stay closely aligned with the business strategy and build that clear approach.

Predict the Future

Some of the skill in being a successful project manager is the ability to predict the future. Your plans will be accurate. What’s more, you can take remedial action to avoid problems ahead of time. In addition, you can also set clear expectations with your stakeholders. This keeps them engaged and will build trust in you.

But, unless you happen to have that crystal ball to see what will happen next. Unless you happen to have that sixth sense of what will come to pass. You’ll need to find the next best way to predict the future.

So, the next of your tips for project management success is to use the past to predict the future. Assess previous change projects and programmes and take learnings from them. Understand what activities they needed to deliver the project. How long did these activities take? What were the roadblocks that they ran into along the way? What could they have done differently?

Taking learning from the past allows you to more intelligently predict the future. In turn, you can run project to time, manage the important risks effectively and your project will go smoothly.

Don’t Avoid Hard Work

Sometimes the easiest answer isn’t the best answer. In fact, most of the time it’s not. Sure, when you need to make a decision to get something sorted out on Friday afternoon, it seems best to take the easy route. It may seem like the best answer when you’re trying to juggle many balls at once.

However, as a Retail Project Manager, you’ve been entrusted with a great honour. To make change that will positively or negatively affect thousands, or even millions of people.

This is no easy challenge.

As a result, hard work is often part of the equation. Even on a Friday. Hard work could be based around solving a complicated challenge. Or it could be about doing something or speaking to someone when you just don’t want to. You may even find yourself facing hard work to do a lot to meet a deadline.

In these instances, doing the hard work may result in the better option to pursue in the long term.

However, it’s also true that hard work is not a substitute for smart work. You need to apply your effort in the right way and on the right elements. This is your opportunity to lead by example and inspire the project team to act and work in the same way.

So the next tip to share is NOT to avoid hard work but instead face into it and take it on, when it makes sense. Rise to the challenge of being a Retail Project Manager.

What are Your Tips for Project Management Success?

Do you have a favourite piece of advice? What do you wish you knew when you started? Comment below and share your best tips for project management success.

project management expert Oliver BanksAbout the Author

Oliver Banks is an expert retail project and programme manager. He originally managed projects in the technology industry before moving to Tesco to deliver retail improvement changes. He is now an independent consultant, passionate about helping retailers and retail project managers to deliver projects to improve stores, distribution and head office operations. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

OB&CO LTD TRADING AS PROJECT MANAGER SUCCESS | COPYRIGHT 2020 | BUILT WITH CARE BY NOËLLE STEEGS

project management expert Oliver Banks

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