Project Management – Tips From the Field

8 June 2015 | Articles

The Project Management Institute defines 13 knowledge areas in which all Projects Managers need to be proficient. They are critical skills for the Project Manager that lead to successfully executed projects.

By Erick Burnham, Project Manager at e-Core

These areas set the bounds for the Project Manager role and allow us to converse efficiently about project management.  I use them every day as they help me effectively deliver projects to my current clients. Over the years, I have also found other tips that have increased my success rate with projects. Described below are five other practices I think about every day that help me deliver, especially as a consulting Project Manager:

  1. It isn’t about the project, it’s about the CUSTOMER – It is drilled into us that we have fulfilled our responsibilities when we protect scope, schedule and cost.  You can guard the triple constraint so strongly that the customer is not satisfied with the end result.  They may understand that you had done an excellent job as a project manager, but at the end of the day, they have less value than they need or want.  Make sure that you are keeping in mind the customer at all points throughout the project. Keeping their interests first and foremost – updating them, presenting issues in a timely manner and providing appropriate solutions for their specific needs.
  2. It isn’t about you, it is about the TEAM – The team is everyone involved in taking care of the customer and getting the project finished correctly, including the development team, the organizational leadership, organizational assets that the receive the deliverables such as operations and customer support, and entities such as the sales department.  It is important to understand their needs and focus on them.  Our success is achieved when they are successful.
  3. Negotiate risk – Taking risks can be a powerful tool in delivering value efficiently.  This doesn’t mean taking shortcuts.  It means eliminating steps of little or dubious value.  Many project and executive teams follow a strict process because if you get off-track and something goes wrong, you are covered by having followed the process already set in place.  Do what is right for the project.  Use your judgment, listen to the team and negotiate with the stakeholders.  Keeping it transparent is important.  It is also key to have your response plan ready if something does go wrong.
  4. Big picture, attention to detail – If you can maintain the big picture, the team can focus on the details that best contribute to the project’s goals.  You will still need to have visibility of the details to know how they tie together as well as effectively manage risk.  You can use the project plan to keep it organized.  The project plan will break the project down into deliverables and tasks, and the relationship between them will help the team find the straightest path to delivering value.
  5. Don’t panic, manage through it – A Project Manager can add a lot of value when things are going wrong.  Success is never a guarantee but failure is highly likely if the team panics.  When a crisis occurs stay methodical, it is not the right time to take on additional risk.  Talk to the team, keep them focused and don’t be scattered. If you have shown them you are thinking of their success, they are more likely to trust you in crisis situations.

I will add a sixth thought.  Have Fun!  Being a Project Manager can be stressful and exhausting at times.  I believe at some level, each of us enjoys the pressure and the satisfaction of delivering a difficult project.  Remind yourself of that, especially when things get tough.

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