Today many new project managers will commence their very first project, a daunting prospect. Here are my suggestions for surviving life as a project manager.
Tip 1: Get involved early
Get involved early in project inception. Even if the question of needing resources hasn’t been decided, I try to participate inside the initial meetings to get a better perspective of the company want. Plus, I can usually add value by pointing out methods particular tasks may be accomplished with greater efficiency, or the resources we have available and the finest approach to use them. Yes it makes much more work for me, but enables me to have a clear vision of the business objective, which I can communicate to the team, leading to greater outcomes.
Tip 2: Define Vital Success Elements for Your Project
Define with your customer the critical success factors that may make the project a success. Make sure they are measurable, for instance “a 15% cut inside the cost of raw materials by the end of 2011.” Use these elements at the end of the project to measure your success. This is what counts and also the ‘must have’ items the project wants to deliver. All other issues are secondary to these as the critical success factors successfully form the contract together with your customer.
Tip 3: Produce a great Project Program
Time spent planning is time well-spent – as the saying goes. Guarantee you’ve got a project program with enough detail that everyone involved understands the projects direction. A great project program supplies the following rewards:
- Clearly documented project milestones and deliverables.
- Valid and realistic timescale.
- A method to generate accurate cost estimates.
- Detailed resource plan.
- Early warning program, providing visibility of job slippage.
- A approach to maintain the project team focused and updated on progress.
Lack of planning will lead to difficulties. Guarantee that you simply create in contingency to any estimate. I suggest between 10-15 per cent. I prefer to be a little pessimistic and deliver early, rather than too optimistic and deliver late. Be careful although; adding too much contingency and under running an estimate is just as poor as overrunning.
Tip 4: Manage Expectations
Managing expectations is the number one activity of a project manager. One-way to do this is to break projects down into smaller chunks or subprojects with frequent milestones and deliverables – commonly know as the ‘Agile’ approach. This way you manage expectations by making normal deliveries, and letting the customer see work as it progresses. This approach ensures the project delivers to the customers’ expectations by giving them early visibility of what you might be building, and allowing them to feedback questions and concerns.
Tip 5: Keep Your Team Motivated
A motivated team will go the extra mile to deliver a project on time, on spending budget and to the correct quality. Keep your team motivated by involving them throughout the project, and planning frequent milestones to assist them feel they are making progress. Communication is essential here – so let your team know when they’re performing well, not just when they are performing badly.
Tip 6: Do not be afraid to replace poor men and women
I don’t say this lightly, but I have noticed managers too typically ignore difficulty employees due to the fact of fear of confrontation, or lack of understanding of the technical aspects of the employee’s job. I would constantly confront and hope to change the attitude of a issue employee. If you’ll find issues at property maybe they require much more time to deal with their personal problems, or maybe they’ve been asked to perform a task beyond their abilities and require much more training. But if right after everything you might have tried an employee is still underperforming or causing problems within the workplace, then I have no dilemma in replacing him or her. Not just due to the fact the organisation is not getting their money’s-worth, but much more devastating is the impact on the morale of the other employees.
Tip 7: Communicate and In no way Assume Anything
There’s an adage, ‘never assume anything’, and this is especially accurate in project management. Great communication with clients, end-users, your sponsor and specifically the project team is important for project success.
- Does every person inside the team understand you?
- Do they know exactly what’s expected of them or have you assumed they do?
- Do they communicate properly with 1 one more, with the customer and with other departments?
The significance of great communication can’t be overstated, so make certain you’re talking to all of your stakeholders continuously. Don’t assume men and women understand what’s expected of them.
Tip 8: Say No!
Probably the most valuable and least utilised word in a project manager’s vocabulary is ‘no’. By no means promise anything you know you cannot deliver, this may guarantee difficulties later. Stay strong no matter how crucial the person in front of you is – they’ll thank you for it later. If they don’t maybe you’re in the wrong job. If saying ‘no’ be firm and ready to justify the reasons behind your choice.
Tip 9: Steer clear of Scope Creep
Scope creep is among the most typical factors projects run over budget and deliver late. Buyers will frequently forget the additional work and effort you might have put in. Ensure that you simply set expectations at the beginning of the project and clearly define what’s in and out of scope. Record it within the key project documentation. Do not assume the customer will read and comprehend these documents. I recommend that you invest a minimum of an hour with the customer to walk them by means of the project and ensure that they comprehend and agree the scope. Don’t continue without firm agreement.
Tip 10: Do not lose your focus
Ensure the project sponsors think carefully about the goods, or deliverables needed, before the project begins. Be sure it is possible to develop a clear vision that will be shared with the whole team. Your scope should be well-defined and any changes introduced in the course of the project ought to be documented and evaluated. If a change is introduced the impact ought to be communicated to the whole team which includes the project sponsors.
Tip 11: Identify Risks to Your Project
Nobody likes to consider risks, specially early in a project. Nevertheless, prevent risk management at your peril. I suggest that you create a risk log with an action plan to lessen each risk. Send your risk strategy to all the stakeholders of your project and invest time to talk to them about the risks. Understanding what action you may take, really should the worst occur, is really a great tension reducer.
Tip 12: Close Your Project
By definition, projects have a finite life. A project that is not closed will continue to consume resources. At the end of a project agree with the customer no matter whether the crucial success aspects have been met. Ask them to sign-off, otherwise fix any areas of deficiency. I like to use a Customer Acceptance Form, which I lodge with the PMO. At this point you might like to ask your customer to fill out a customer satisfaction survey. They might have valuable data which will assist you to boost for future projects.
The job of project manager can be a challenging one; even so it want not be stressful in the event you follow these 12 tips. Good luck in surviving life as a project manager!