Project Management

Firstly, this is not an ‘expert’ page on Project Management. This is more like a page of simple applications to your business or organisation which, when applied to both projects and strategies, will help make them much more likely to happen successfully. That’s the best we can do for you here!

That said, Project Management is relatively simple. You have a project and you want it done – right? So on here, we will help you with some easy-peasy ideas to deliver that goal.

“There is simply no substitute for knowing what you’re doing.”

Jeff Case

…and in great Project Management, you are well on the way if you follow those sentiments for a start!

Top Ten Things About Project Management

Businesses run along, day after day with amazing regularity, then just sometimes, in organisations big and small, it’s time for something new to be introduced – OMIGOSH!. It might be new IT systems; a restructuring; factory expansion; almost anything that requires a plan of action.

For this, there is Project Management…and although steeped in mystery, here are the ‘secrets’ of the very best managers and the way they use Project Management skills in their work.

The very best at Project Management…

  1. Have Crystal Clear Goals
    They understand the scope of the project in hand and communicate it fully to all stakeholders.
  2. Create the Right Team
    There is no place for make-weights here. Those best at Project Management choose carefully to get a great mix of people in the team for balance and width. Can use it as a development opportunity.
  3. Use Realistic Timescales
    By ensuring they have the right team make-up, they are able to make good judgements of the ‘achievability’ of a project over the allocated time – or push back for more.
  4. Assess Resource Requirement
    They find out early on, the resources needed to deliver the output in the timescale. This might be personnel, funding, materials, workload. This is a vital activity.
  5. Identify Milestones
    In the project itself, checkpoints (or milestones) are set into the timed plan to assess progress against target. This enables confidence to build in capability and/or adjustments to be made accordingly.
  6. Clarify Accountabilities and Expectations
    Everyone has to pull their weight here or the job won’t get done. The challenge is to get really clear about who definitely is accountable for what and by when and rigid discipline maintained.
  7. Watch for Holes
    Those really good at Project Management are aware of pitfalls. They spot those critical issues and killer moments in a project and take action – in advance.
  8. Communicate Well
    Good at communication generally, good project leaders keep all stakeholders informed of progress regularly. Often using a visual representation of ‘the project plan’, this helps everyone get a clear picture of progress.
  9. Are Honest
    Whilst disciplined, they are also great at being honest with those on the team and other stakeholders. If the project struggles, they are open about it and seeks fixes rather than try to paper over the cracks.
  10. Maintain Focus
    By having a great skills to overview the project rather than get into the doing, those skilled can see the big picture as well and focus on key activities – a great talent.

Ten Ways to be Better at Project Management

    1. Have a Measurable Outcome
      Decide very precisely what the outcome of your project will be – what will result from it. Use: –

      1. Specific
      2. Measurable
      3. Achievable
      4. Relevant
      5. Timescale as your guide.
      6. And get real clear on P for Purpose or Point. What is the Point of your project?

 

  1. Be Disciplined
    Have clear structures to your working. Agree schedules for yourselves as well as the project in hand.
  2. Gather Needs
    Very early on, identify everything you will need to make the project successful. This means people, things and money! Test this within the project team – brainstorm, because one person cannot recall it all.
  3. Agreed Accountabilities
    Make sure that everyone know what they are doing and when – and as project manager, you ensure they do!
  4. Write it Down
    From day one, all agree a layout of the project on paper – visible. Maybe even get a big sheet of brown paper and plan the project on the wall! There are computer programmes available, or use a Gantt chart built in a spreadsheet – timeline along the top; names along the side and activities to their names within the timeline. Share it and have someone responsible for updating.
  5. Build a Team
    You project will work best with a mix of people that are creative; focused; positive; negative; questioners; completer-finishers etc. Check that you have a complete mix and honour everyone for being there – they all have a massive part to play – individual and team. Try finding out about using Belbin.
  6. Check Progress
    Using milestones in the project timings, enables you to ensure everything is kept on track.
  7. Tell People
    Keeping in touch with sponsors, end-user and other stakeholders is vital. By making sure that everyone relevant is kept in the loop, you will ensure a lot of goodwill.
  8. Capture Learnings
    As you progress, especially if you are quite new to this, make note of all you have learnt – it will help you for next time. At the end of the project, review how it went and note things you could have done differently.
  9. Recognise Success
    Hey, don’t forget to party! Get everyone involved and make sure you all take credit for a great job – well done!

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • Review the last project or two you were involved in. Find ten things that went really well and ten that could have gone better. Go on – write them down!
  • Find a current or imminent project and apply the ideas above.
  • Maybe create a project opportunity or game to model and role play with your team – use it as an exercise – even make it fun (remember widgets!)
  • As a team, look at projects around you – or even national ones external to you (sort of Channel Tunnel or Millennium Dome things!) and consider the challenges they face(d). How might you use that in your projects?
  • Protect the resources you will need to set up a Project Management process within your business.

Read some great books like:-

“Project Management for Dummies” – Stanley Portney
“Project Management (Essential Managers Series)” – Andy Bruce, Ken Langdon
“*The Project Management Pocketbook” – Mike Applegarth & Keith Posner