By Veronica Thraen / January 16, 2017
You’ve just held a successful project kickoff meeting. All team members and stakeholders have a clear understanding of objectives, scope, and roles and responsibilities. Everyone is prepared and motivated to move forward with the project. So, how do you maintain this momentum through project completion?
It’s not uncommon for a team to lose steam during a project, especially if they are being distracted by constant priority shifts, change requests or issues. Assuming that project teams can self-manage their own tasks misses the point of successfully delivering the whole project—on time and within budget. An effective project leader – whether a certified PM, department manager or other assigned personnel - is the key to ensuring proper communication and team motivation throughout the project lifecycle.
A project leader can help maintain team momentum by:
Providing Consistent Communication
Frequency and type of communication during a project will depend on the audience. For example, a large project with many departments involved may require a weekly cross-functional team meeting to ensure everyone is up to date and any issues/risks are identified. A separate daily 15-minute touch base meeting with the core team helps to quickly remove any impediments to ensure that tasks stay on track. High-level reporting is also useful for executive teams to quickly see where the project stands.
Having engaged stakeholders through project completion is critical for project success. Obtaining their input along the way, communicating issues in a timely manner and being responsive to their needs will not only allow the core team to focus on the tasks at hand, it will help build relationships and gain trust. Stakeholders will see the value in having a designated project leader and will know that you can deliver what is expected.
Controlling Project Scope
A project leader’s ability to control the scope of a project goes hand-in-hand with managing expectations. There is nothing more frustrating and distracting to a team when the scope is changing on a whim throughout the project. Whether it is a brand new requirement or a change to an existing requirement, the project leader should analyze each request and determine feasibility and schedule impact. A simple approval process will help ensure that teams are working on the right tasks at the right time, ultimately preventing schedule and cost overruns.
In the end, maintaining team momentum boils down to effective leadership and communication. A study by the Project Management Institute states that “effective communication leads to more successful projects, allowing organizations to become high performers” and that “organizations cannot afford to overlook this key element of project success and long-term profitability”.  Something to consider when planning new initiatives.
What is your approach to maintaining team momentum after a project kickoff meeting?
 - Project Management Institute: The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications
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