• Tā mātou ki a koe What we offer
  • Mō mātou About us
  • Ngā rauemi Resources
  • Whakapā mai Contact us
A guide for HR leaders

A three phase approach to project management success in an uncertain world

Sacha Castle

By Sacha Castle on Feb 03, 2021.

A three phase approach to project management success in an uncertain world

The world of work is becoming more complex and unpredictable. Covid-19 has made the term ‘business-as-usual’ seem almost redundant.

So how do we begin to grapple with these complexities when leading a successful organisation in uncertain times? One of the most vital tools is effective project management.

Effective project management gives you the ability to shift from dealing with project crisis to focusing on enhancing project performance, and ultimately, delivering more value for the organisation. Effective project organisation and project management practices help you to plan, implement, and review throughout a project towards a pre-agreed outcome. It also means that you can learn and improve things for the next project. When project management is done well, everyone knows what role they play, the timeframes involved, how to mitigate risks, and what to do when things aren’t going according to plan.

Project management is a weakness in New Zealand organisations

While effective project management is a key professional skill, there is room for improvement in New Zealand. AskYourTeam has carried out research which shows managing projects from concept through to review is a critical weakness across all New Zealand business sectors..

Our findings show[1]  that both leaders and employees have recognised a lack of structure and discipline in project management, along with inadequate communication when projects change, or deadlines are shifted. Another area marked for improvement is reviewing projects to see how successful they were, and whether they achieved their desired outcomes. This means future projects are often unable to leverage what was learned previously, and organisations can easily fall into a cycle of underperformance.

A pathway for successful project management

When it comes to successful project management, there are three key phases to follow: planning, implementation and review. There are important factors to be considered in each phase that can help drive efficiency and deliver better quality and performance results.


Early planning and organising are essential to a project’s success. This phase of project management should consider the bigger picture (organisation and people) as well as the nuts and bolts of the project itself.

What impact will the project have on your organisation, including its culture? Do people understand the risks as well as the benefits, and how to mitigate them? Has it been researched effectively and does everyone involved understand what is expected of them and when?

Effective planning means complying with the policies and processes already followed by your organisation and having plans documented in way that are simple to understand and follow, including project costs, deadlines and roles. The more ambiguous your planning is, the more likely you’ll run into trouble during the implementation phase.


Once a project is underway, there are important factors to bear in mind that will keep the project moving forward. One of the best ways to ensure implementation runs smoothly is to communicate well with the project teams themselves. Is each member of the team appropriately trained for the project? Are they empowered to make decisions in their areas of expertise? Are the teams well balanced with the right mix of skills and experience? Are they being given a chance to provide feedback and suggest ways to improve the project through the whole project lifecycle?

It’s during the implementation phase that problems can arise - whether that’s scope creep, missed deadlines, or budget blowouts. Keeping in contact with project teams, as well as stakeholders and suppliers is important to manage risks, and stay on track for success.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but only if we use it. Successful project management won’t only help you deliver on the intended outcome, it will make future projects in your organisation more likely to succeed, too.

This means ensuring every aspect of the project is well documented. If you can see where a past project was unsuccessful, was slowed down, went over budget or ran into issues with suppliers or stakeholders, you can learn from these lessons to be smarter and more targeted in the future.

[1] Energy Sector Insights Paper: Positivity in a volatile era; 2020 https://resources.askyourteam.com/whitepapers/energy-sector-insights