All project can be complex to manage, but there’s something to be said about the extra complexity that large-scale projects introduce.
There are varying opinions on what exactly a large-scale project is, but to us it refers to a project that requires a much larger team (think 50 people plus), at least a year or more to complete and a much larger investment than your average project might.
Major infrastructure projects, like roads and skyscrapers, are great examples of large-scale projects, whereas in the business world it could be setting up a completely new department, replacing a business-critical IT system, or expanding your business into a new location.
Classifying a project as a large-scale project ensures that the management team and other stakeholders are fully aware of its required focus and support. This is because large-scale projects are typically plagued by the following challenges:
- A general lack of clarity
Due to the size of the team, the project goals and objectives can become unclear, with many people not even sure what their efforts are contributing toward.
- Decisions take a lot longer
Due to the impact a large-scale project can have on an organisation, decision-making can’t be taken lightly. They require careful consideration and coordination to ensure that the right people, at the right levels, are involved.
- Managers and senior stakeholders need to be more hands-on
Project managers and senior stakeholders need to be ready to react as quickly as possible to any potential blocker, may it be people, process or technology related, to avoid major cost overruns and delays.
- Formal project management tooling is a must
Professional project management software and processes are the only way to ensure proper planning and control. This also means that team members require the right level of experience and expertise to make use of these tools.
- They’re not always geared to be fully agile
Large-scale projects can be difficult to break down into more workable, short-term pieces of work as some activities can only be achieved with a more traditional approach.
This might sound like an uphill battle, but these challenges can be easily overcome by sticking to the following core principles:
- You’re only as strong as your weakest link
When tackling a large-scale project, you have to build the strongest team possible. This means finding the right people with the right skills and experience to ensure collective project success.
- Consistency is key
Where possible, ensure that you have the same team members working on the project from beginning to end. This drastically reduces the risk of confusion and misalignment to the project goals and objectives.
- Set realistic deadlines and expectations
It is extremely important not to over-commit. Gather expert opinions, from within and outside your organisation, and review lessons learnt from similarly sized projects to help you define the most realistic project timeline possible.
- Communicate to the point of over-communication
Communication needs to go way beyond the project team and direct decision makers. Any other person who is directly or indirectly impacted by the project outcome should be taken along on the project journey with you to ensure buy-in and successful change management.
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