Vital project management techniques for financial services

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Certain elements of project management in financial services (and across various sectors) are set to be especially important in future.

The demands now placed on project managers in light of Covid-19 and general market volatility mean they will need to think more broadly about the risks that face projects.

Quality in the face of regulation and tighter budgets

Having quality-based processes at the heart of project management addresses gaps, issues and potential errors.

For companies specifically involved in Statutory Audits, they need to factor in the impact that Covid-19 – including the increase in remote working – will have on the quality of work done. This might require a commitment to organizing face-to-face team sessions when pandemic restrictions allow.

From a regulatory perspective, it’s vital to account for any quality risks that may affect companies’ ability to meet deadlines for Statutory Audits, even when authorities have given extensions on deadlines during the pandemic.

Having a high level of caution with project budgets across all financial services activities – especially the risk of going over budget – calls for even greater due diligence in uncertain times. Building in quality processes, robust data analysis and project workflow reduces the chances of mistakes and helps identify all the risk requirements from the outset.

Putting quality at the heart of your project brings better benefits at the end of it. PRINCE2®’s quality control technique ensures that sufficient inspection is done, therefore meeting customer criteria and having a clear product/project description.

Time management and project success 

The more time you save, the more productive and effective your project is – and less likely to be cancelled.

Though I hear this spoken about a lot in financial services, time management in big projects has been less at the forefront of helping them succeed.

A lot of the early preparation work in large projects is a best estimate and project managers really need to ensure that what they budget is an accurate reflection of the time required.

The stage gates in PRINCE2 are a good way of revisiting estimates for accuracy based on lessons learned and adjusting accordingly.

Managing expectations of stakeholders

One of the effects of Covid-19 is projects taking longer than usual.

This requires keeping stakeholders in the loop on progress, making them aware of changing timeframes and showing how quality remains at the heart of the project – which is why it may take longer.

PRINCE2’s approach of regular project reviews ensures you’re managing communication flows to and from stakeholders and this includes:

  • Defining a communications approach – i.e. communicating more or less frequently and deciding how that might change and why
  • Summarizing the current project status
  • Crafting key messages for each stakeholder
  • Implementing a stakeholder management plan.

Pricing, costs and estimating

Doing the right level of market analysis and customer research will ensure your project price estimation reflects the current situation in a particular industry.

Regarding costs, everyone wants them to go down but this needs to be combined with efficiencies also, such as outsourcing.

Estimates (covering time spent, costs and predicted benefits relating to the project) should be updated as a project progresses from start up to realizing the benefits.

Project managers need to communicate fully with senior leadership to obtain as much time as necessary to do the due diligence that’s needed in such volatile economic conditions. In financial services, especially, you can’t afford any risks to the level of quality or the ability to reduce error.

Find out more about the PRINCE2® project management method.

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