Check out the five ways project managers can respond to changes without losing project stability and purpose.
Say you're an application programmer, and your app specifications are modified day after day. Your pride in workmanship and belief in the app will diminish. Likewise, if you're an end user or a trainer, your confidence in a project will wane if systems and apps are continuously changing.
Yes, there is always the enticement of agile development, and the instantaneous IT responsiveness it can bring to a business. Inevitably, there comes a point where change gets to be too much.
Below are five steps project managers can take to respond to changes without losing project stability and purpose.
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Step 1: Set deadlines for changes
Whether you use waterfall or agile software development, set "freeze" windows for your projects to give both IT and users time to work with a new system. During this time, users and IT can make notes about what they like, don't like, or want to improve. This information can then be moved into a future project phase.
Step 2: Deploy projects in stages
Along with step one, arrange projects so it splits into alternating stages of active development and change-freeze cycles where systems are placed into production and allowed to run change-free for awhile.
Step 3: Explain the project methodology to the entire team
IT project methodology has shifted over the years from a traditional, more "tortoise" approach of waterfall system development to the more rapid "hare" approach of agile development. The ground you want to stake out for your project is between these two extremes. Your project should maintain an active pace, but it also should allow room for project absorption (and a freeze on change) into production.
You will also want to explain this act-then-rest methodology to your users and IT upfront so that they understand the rationale behind your project methodology.
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Step 4: Touch base with project members
It is always sound practice to manage while walking around--basically, take time to personally touch base with project members. This provides an excellent opportunity to gauge how project members feel about a project. If you feel that team members have reached a point where the project's rate of change overwhelms them, then it might be a good time to slow things down so that the team can regroup and refresh.
Step 5: Never view a project as finished
Project managers often feel the urge to make everything about a project perfect the first time around, so they can end a project once and for all. However, businesses (and apps) will continuously evolve. This natural course of evolution will bring its share of new enhancements and releases long after a project's official timeline has ended.
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