Five Obvious, But Sometimes Ignored, Tips for PMs

For a project to be successful, it's not enough simply to manage your project competently, and deliver a good quality product. To avoid failure, make sure you have identified the right tips to follow, managed a high-quality implementation, and monitored your changing environment.

“Here's the TenStep guest blog post "Five Obvious, But Sometimes Ignored, Tips for PMs":

You would not be reading this email unless you knew something about project management. The following five tips are not new. Yet, we don't always follow them.

1. Define the work

Before we start executing the work, let's make sure we know what we are getting into. This includes understanding project scope, assumptions, constraints, risks, stakeholders, approach, etc. We all know we need to understand these things before we start. But do we always spend the time to do so effectively?

2. Create a schedule to complete the work

Defining the work tells you what you are trying to achieve. The schedule tells you how you are going to complete the work. The schedule contains the activities, who is responsible, the dates due, etc. For larger projects this needs to be in some scheduling tool. For small projects it could just be in Excel or a checklist. These are perfectly fine ways to understand the project work for smaller projects.

3. Create a budget that estimates the cost for competing the work

Not all projects estimate costs and manage budgets, but for many projects this is critically important. Perform diligence to ensure that you have as accurate a project cost estimate as possible. Splitting the money up between different types of general ledger accounts and is part of converting an estimate to a budget.

4. Proactively manage the work

Once you understand what you are trying to do, have a plan to complete the work and have agreement on the project costs, you are ready to proactively manage the work. This is not just sitting back and waiting for things to happen. This is proactive execution of some project management work - like communicating. It is also proactive monitoring of certain elements of the project to look for variances against the baselines. You do this when you monitor schedule and budget.

5. Communicate early and often

Managing communication is part of the prior tip. However, I have broken out communication because of its importance, and because it is an area where we often are inadequate. You don't communicate as you have time. Think of this instead as getting all of the rest of your work done when you are done communicating. I am sure it is possible to over communicate on a project. I am not sure I have seen en example of this. On the other hand, it is most often the case that our communication on a project is lacking.

The five items above are not new. We all know they are very important. But are we always doing this work effectively?

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