Always be willing to be flexible
John Santos is used to managing projects from task to task in a strict and hard-nosed manner. When the business strategy in his company changed and the requirements of the project changed with the same deadline. John immediately panicked and told his team to keep working until he figured everything out. Needless to say due to his lack of flexibility, he was not quick to change the plan, re-evaluate resources, or make a decision on the overall strategy of the project. The project ended up being late and way over budget. Business strategies and project strategies can change in an instant, and as a Project Manager, you must know how to be flexible. Flexibility is what project management is about when it comes to meeting deadlines and managing risks.
Keep it simple
Jill Mitchum is known as PM extraordinaire. She has the ability to document everything to the detail and organize all of her documents to where at the closing of her projects, she could probably fill a small office bookshelf with binders and binders of material. Jill’s company had a Project Manager leave and 8 projects were dumped on Jill at once. Since she was so detailed in her process and documentation, she started working hours on end to try to keep up with the demand that was need to manage her additional 8 projects. Soon she fell behind along with some of her projects. Once a new, more experienced PM was hired, he showed her how she could only document the necessary information and manage the projects just as good. The fact is that she now works more efficiently by simplifying her documentation and focusing on more important aspects of managing her projects. Keeping it simple is the best way to operate as a Project Manager. The infamous “Lazy Project Manager” book and way of managing helps us. Focusing on the right stuff is how we must learn to be better PMs.
Ask the right questions
Knowledge is power and for a PM, this is vital. In most cases the PM is not the subject matter expert when it comes to the project’s system, process, or tools. In one’s opinion, if the PM has a good team, he or she shouldn’t need to be the subject matter expert. In this case the Project Manager really needs to know what the right questions are to manage a project and the project team. Knowing the who, what, when, where and how is great, but the detailed questions that need to be asked will help determine a true timeline, mitigate risk, while decreasing cost and eliminating scope creep. A lot of PMs have a list of generic questions that help them with the initiation of a project. Please see our list at (Starting a Project – Where To Start)
Beat your deadline
The goal should be to move more efficiently and at the same time move faster than expected on as many tasks as possible so that you will not have to worry about unknown time delays in your schedule. In the case of an on time and on budget project, what if you were to experience an issue at the close of the project that you could not predict? If your team did not work efficiently before to beat the task deadlines (and maybe even milestones), you may be put at risk of not meeting the project deadline. Don’t move fast at the expense of quality, money, or employee morale. Remember that overworking your resources can cause major trouble in some projects causing lower quality work.
Always document Lessons Learns
This will be discuss time and time again that lessons learned is the most important document that you can finish at the closing of a project. Hopefully throughout the project, you are documenting lessons learned, but this document is great in gauging how well your future resources will do on the next project, how much experience they have, and what risks may occur in your project.
Become a student of Project Management
Project Management is forever changing. More and more research is done on techniques. Organizations like PMI have think tanks on how to standardize project management. Becoming a student of project management doesn’t just mean taking PDUs, it’s also digging into how project management works, how it works for you, and how it works for the current organization that you’re in. Then taking that knowledge and meshing it into a comprehensive and systematic process that it easy for you to execute.
Your people are most important part of the project
Even though it has been done before (I should know), you are not usually the only one on your team. Make sure that your team has everything that they need to complete their task. Your team members are those who make you look good as a Project Manager and it’s your duty to acknowledge that and reward their success. Your job is to be the shield of any roadblocks, risks, or issues that your team may have. Since they are the most important part of your project, you have to do whatever you can to make sure that their jobs go as smoothly as possible.