We’re often asked what our top tips for project managers would be, and so we caught up with our Director Steve Kendall to get his ideas to help all budding and existing project management professionals:
- Be clear about objectives
By making sure you have a clear, agreed, and documented objective for the project before the work starts everyone involved knows what is expected by the end of the project and what the expected outcomes are.
- If you don’t know, ask!
No question is a ‘dumb question’. It is better to risk looking silly momentarily than to risk never asking the question and the potential consequences. Also, use the knowledge of the specialists/subject matter experts on your team as it can help generate new ideas and iron our issues.
- Agree the role of your Project Sponsor
Discuss and agree with your Project Sponsor what their role is and what decisions they want to take, and what they are happy for you to decide on. Don’t be afraid to escalate any issues you’re having to them, but always know the course of action you’ll recommend moving forward.
- Know the Cost of Delay for your project
By knowing the Cost of Delay of your project you are able to make well informed and correct decisions to keep the project on track, both in budget and time. Communicating the Cost of Delay with your Project Sponsor also keeps them informed of the impact of a potential delay should it occur at a later date.
- Minor delays aren’t inevitable
Don’t accept that minor delays are inevitable. Make sure you always explore the reasons for the delays and understand what the implications will be for the remainder of the project.
- Involve the team in risk assessing and planning
Make sure you always involve the project team when assessing and planning for risks in the project as their involvement and knowledge of their specialist area may highlight risks that you weren’t aware of.
- Include contingencies in your plan
Be sure to include some time and budget contingencies in your project plan. The amount you include will depend upon the level of risk of the project, but by not including them you run the risk of the project running over budget and time.
- Write a ‘Lessons Learnt’ report
After each project make sure you write up a ‘Lessons Learnt’ report. These reports are invaluable when planning for similar and new projects as they allow you, and your colleagues, to reflect on the project and what could be done differently next time. Make sure that all ‘Lessons Learnt’ reports are available to all the project managers across your organisation so you can all learn from other projects.
- Use the ‘Lessons Learnt’ reports
While writing a ‘Lessons Learnt’ report is a useful exercise for your own reflection on a project, be sure to use the information stored in those reports (by yourself and your colleagues) before starting your next project. By using these reports and implementing the changes needed, you start your next project in a better position.
- ‘Walk the project’
Communication is key, so make sure you meet your team and Project Sponsor face-to-face frequently. Take the time to discuss their ideas, listen to their concerns and update them on the project (when applicable).
While using these tips won’t always mean your projects are plain sailing, but they will keep you grounded, and on track. Another top tip we would share is to make sure your training and knowledge of project management techniques are up to date. Get in touch with us now to discuss your coaching and training needs.