3 Tips for Good Project Management

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So you were asked to lead a project.  Along with all the other things you have to do this is one more activity added to your plate.  Don’t be discouraged.  Leading a project can be exciting and rewarding.  This is your time to shine and show your leadership abilities.  There is a leader in all of us.

As you take on this role, here are three tips to keep in mind for managing your project.

Know Team Members and Set Expectations

It is important to start any team project with a good foundation.  This should include:

  • providing as much information about the project as possible and having continual updates to keep everyone informed
  • allowing time for the members to interact and express how their skills and experience will be used for the project
  • stating expectations on working together (accountability, deadline, budget), how the project will be completed and the metrics for a successful outcome

Most successful teams have great communication.  They have learned how to work together to get things done.  Team building is an important part of this process.  Don’t skip this step.  I encourage you to provide the time for team building, it will enhance the experience, build trust among team members and encourage communication.

Provide Detailed Project Scope and Work Plan

Nothing can derail a project faster than not knowing the full scope of the project and not creating a project work plan.  The project scope details the description of the project and what is required, it should include:

  • description of the project (why it’s needed, why now, impact on business/department, what is the deliverable, and what next steps are after completion)
  • expectations for a successful project
  • information about budget, staff, and project deadline (could also include checkpoint and/or milestone deadlines)
  • who are the stakeholders (these are the people who should be updated on progress)

A fully-defined project scope is shared with the team and from this information the team can develop a project work plan.  The work plan is a living document showing actionable steps to complete the project, who is accountable, and the deadline for each step. The work plan includes budget metrics to ensure the team is tracking expenses appropriately and any budgetary issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently.

Problems with the timeline or budget will revise the work plan; therefore, it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that the work plan is up-to-date and team members are frequently using it as they proceed with the project. (To do this, my first agenda item for every team meeting is review of project work plan).  The work plan is also a good place to add dates for updating stakeholders on the specifics of the project.  I like to add anything I want to do for the project on the work plan — if it is on the work plan it will get done.

While the project scope may or may not be revised, the work plan should be revised and updated often.  The work plan is the communication document keeping everyone related to the project up-to-date and allows the team leader the ability to see if goals and targets are being reached and to look for and address problems with the project.  If possible, a work plan should allow additional time to the project for unforeseen problems so the team can make adjustments that will have the project completed on time.

Build Time in the Project

Building time into the project is very important.  Life happens and this project is probably one of your many other duties and responsibilities.  That being said, this project is still important and needs to be completed on time and within budget.  When you are developing your project work plan think about ways to streamline and combine tasks.  Seek team input on how to get the work completed and the time it might take for each step.  Be realistic with your timeline but also be flexible and provide additional time so if problems come up, the project deadline can still be met.

Successful Projects

I have worked on many projects and they all had teams that communicated well and knew what was expected, they used a work plan to ensure that everyone knew what to do and when it needed to be done, and there was time built into the project so unforeseen delays or problems could be addressed without causing the project to miss its completion deadline.

Good planning equals good project management.  These tips will help you be successful and your team will thank you.