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Project Management: Do´s & dont´s
During your carrier as a Project Manager you probably heard of the most common methodologies and terms of this profession like Waterfall, Agile, RACI, Gantt chart, etc. All of these are important. However, no matter which approach you follow, there are some ground rules to keep in mind in order to lead a successful project.
- Do: Take your time for Planning
Since Agile methodology became widely used, the misbelief started to circulate, that the planning, framing of the scope is not that important anymore, because the final product will be formed during the project. This is a risky misbelief, since one of the most important cornerstones of the project is planning. It is really worth to allocate some time for careful planning, cost estimation and phrasing of the main goal and manifesto of the project. Don’t let poor planning to risk the project success. Of course, excessive planning and regulation can also risk the success of the project, therefore is important to find the right balance.
- Do: Be transparent and engaging
Honest and open communication is the essential part of successful project management. Project managers need to be able to speak the language of the stakeholders and also of the project team. Keep up to date the stakeholders about the status and inform them about the issues – deliver difficult messages in time with possible solution. Besides this a PM needs to provide the right set of information to the project team as well. But keep the balance and don’t overcommunicate. Regularly scheduled project meetings can help to keep everyone on track, receive the necessary status updates and allow the team to schedule their time better
- Do: Celebrate victories
It is important to recognize and celebrate success, even if it is a small one. Appreciating the team members after the completion of a project or a milestone can be a really good motivator and helps you to build a good team. This can be even more important in case of long term, ’never ending’ projects to keep up the enthusiasm of the team.
- Do: Know your role
Sometimes the temptation can be big to keep track of every small details and control everything, but don’t forget that you need to manage the big picture. It can be also a good motivator, if you give certain freedom, responsibilities to the team members and avoid micro-managing them. Too much control can have a negative impact on the quality of the work and can easily demotivate your team.
- Do: Define the terms of the project’s success
How do you define the success of your project? Project success has been identified as a project that meets its Objectives on Time and within Budget. But what about your customer, is he happy and satisfied with the product? That is one of the reasons why it is highly important to define properly the main project objectives and the success criteria at the beginning of the project together with the stakeholders. For example, the manifesto in Agile methodology supports very well this aim, as it creates a document which is clear and focused on the overall project goal.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of the kick-off meeting
Kickoff meeting is a great opportunity to establish the project’s success, if it filled with the right content. The purpose is to discuss the project objectives, assumptions, deliverables, planning and other important details. But the most important part from all of it is to build up the mutual understanding and support of the project goal. A well organized and presented kickoff meeting is a valuable tool to set the project tone and to motive team members to achieve the project objectives. The kickoff meeting is a significant part of a successful project completion, don’t miss the chance.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel
To help you to plan, execute and monitor your project it is the best to use a pre-existing system what is already at your disposal. Don’t spend time from the project to try to find a new tool or to create one. These tools are helping you to improve resource efficiency and project tracking, provide quick and good visual representation of the project status. Of course, to utilize the advantages of these tools it needs to be used properly and regularly.
- Don’t threaten quality through incorrectly set timings
Usually the clients would like to receive the requested product as soon as possible (preferably for yesterday 😊), therefore there will be a big pressure on the deadlines. However good work requires time. Therefore, it is really important to estimate the timing realistically and communicate it well to the client in order not to give false promises, which may be at the expense of quality. Time and quality should never be in conflict with each other.
- Don’t miss the evaluation of your project
The evaluation of a project can be a really great asset to further improve the performance of your projects, the way of working, but it is usually unheeded mainly because of lack of time in our fast-pacing world. It doesn’t require lot of time and brings big added value.
You can evaluate your project by going through the project’s paperwork, asking feedback from the project team and stakeholders and analyze all relevant data; developing a clear view to understand what worked and what went wrong. By creating the ‘lessons learnt’, points of improvement next time you can avoid the mistakes, and can keep, strengthen those activities what went well.
- Don’t forget that project management is also people management
As a last point, but not least, we need to mention people management. The PM has many things to concentrate on during the project completion like scope, quality, cost and timeline. Sometimes they forget about the people who are actually delivering the project. As a PM you need to create a positive working environment, encourage the team members, be open for their problems, keep up the motivation. In short, a Project manager sometimes needs to be psychologist.
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