Would you like to become a project management author?

Lessons Learned in Project ManagementI woke up at 4:30 a.m. today; could not get back to sleep because of a Twitter-inspired book concept that was swirling in my head. If 140 experienced project managers can come up with 140 tips, each in 140 words or less, we’ll have a very concise body of knowledge that will be useful for all project managers.

Would you like to be part of it?

Tip: Ten words or less (start with an action verb)

Explanation: 110 words or less (describe the tip and the reason behind it; provide examples; use bullets for brevity)

Conclusion: 20 words or less (summarize your tip)

By participating, you are granting me full rights to publish and use your tip. You will not receive any compensation other than an attribution and an electronic copy of the book.

Get the guidelines and examples: http://johnestrella.com/LLPM.pdf

Connect with Dr. John A. Estrella via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

64 thoughts on “Would you like to become a project management author?

  • 2009-04-08 at 09:32
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    Tip #1 Focus on the terrible triplets: risks, plans and business case

    Pay attention to what really matters. Three project aspects are tightly integrated and must be managed together. When one aspect changes, always take a good look at the others to evaluate project health and make the right decisions.

    Identify, evaluate and respond to significant project risks, ranging from long-term strategic risks to short-term tactical risks and daily operational risks.

    Build and actually use your project plan and its more detailed phase plans to successfully deliver the scope of the final product.

    Define and work within your business case defining benefits the project provides to the organization. If the benefits change too much, consider that it might be time to stop.

    Keeping your eyes on the “terrible triplets” allows project managers to quickly and consistently keep their project on track.

  • 2009-04-08 at 20:31
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    Tip #2 Get in touch with the common people

    Project managers understand reality of current processes/tools and their shortcomings; and implement new solutions or improved processes through projects. It is seen that exploring requirements or visualizing solutions mostly happens within realms of executives, senior managers and SMEs. But, grassroots are often ignored.

    Make sure that you and your project team remains in touch with these people to understand the ground realities. These can be dispatchers, order entry staff, admin officers, etc. in your area. Always have your network of people at that level. I find a technique similar to MBWA (Management by Walking Around) very handy. Go out regularly (sometimes casually) to your site of work or business area to get in touch with this network of yours.

    Common sense is available with common people and always keep in touch with them.

  • 2009-04-09 at 07:27
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    Tip #3 Approach project life with a healthy attitude

    1. Balance life and manage stress: Balance work and idleness to increase energy. Demands never cease so organize, prioritize and learn to say ‘no’! Flee, fight or flow.

    2. Really get to know people: Rapport breeds trust, trust builds solidarity when times are hard. Take a genuine interest, respect time, energy and space.

    3. Listen and feedback: Listen with purpose. Understand them; don’t expect them to understand you. Wait your turn to speak, clarify and respond.

    4. Be creative: Find connections. Change your perspective. Change habits, break patterns. Oil paint. Sculpt a sandcastle. Nurture your imagination.

    5. Feedback and criticism: Welcome it. Seek it. Evaluate it. Take it for what it is. Don’t take it personally. Act on it. Stay exhilarated.

    Harness and build upon your talents to shape transform, integrate disparity and influence people to embrace business change.

  • 2009-04-09 at 08:20
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    Tip #4 Discuss all constraints at the beginning of a project

    Commitment and trustfulness: If every team member has put his doubts on the table, he feels integrated and taken seriously.

    Scope: This is the best moment to reduce or enlarge the project’s scope if the majority of the team thinks so but is afraid to tell.

    Responsibility: A shared taken decision is supported by the whole team, nobody can say “I told you it won’t work”.

    Don’t be afraid of a constructive discussion as it will only help you in the ongoing project.

  • 2009-04-09 at 13:33
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    Tip #5 Master the art of delegation

    A project manager can’t know it all, or do it all. If you subscribe to the old saying that “the only way to get something done right or on time is to do it yourself,” then there is a very strong likelihood that your results as a project manager are likely to be less than stellar.

    Delegation is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific tasks. Such an assignment carries the accountability for execution in both a timely and effective manner. But, the task assignment is only half the process.

    An effective project manager must follow-up to ensure that assigned tasks are completed on time and in an effective manner, and has their own personal tracking process for noting outstanding tasks, and executing follow-ups on those tasks.

  • 2009-04-09 at 15:25
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    Tip #6 Balance over control with under control

    A tip from John Carver lets me think of my project as “my baby”. I cradle the vision for the project. I dress my baby warm, so I address the fundamental value for the project. As I take my baby for a stroll, I “force an external focus on value” and enable an “outcome driven organizing system. I “separate the large issues from small ones.” When I hold my baby up for passersby to look “I force forward thinking” and describe relationships relevant to stakeholders. I balance over control with under control in order to cancel my “meddler” and “rubber stamper” tendency.

    The path to better governance lies in more productive human relationships. Think project, think baby and be the change.

  • 2009-04-09 at 19:24
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    Tip #7 Go beyond “projects as usual” with mind mapping

    How do you juggle hundreds of project tasks and details? Where do you put all this info, make sense out of it, and how do you access and share it effectively?

    On your next project, you could turn to the usual suspects. Or, use mind maps to streamline every process, from start to finish. With mind maps, you’ll bring to light all the known information and the gaps that are missing.

    • Develop your work breakdown structures
    • Capture and organize your research
    • Solve problems and mitigate risks
    • Create project dashboards
    • Write reports and presentations
    • Identify milestones and deliverables
    • Gather requirements
    • Conduct interviews
    • Take project and meeting notes

    Mind mapping is an easy-to-learn yet extremely powerful project visualization technique. Try it at http://mindjet.com.

    Chief Evangelist, Mindjet

  • 2009-04-10 at 05:57
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    Tip #8 Use common sense more often

    We all have some kind of project management methodology. No matter how sophisticated it is, it could not fully define how to act in all conceivable situations. We often face unplanned issues. What then? One good technique is to use common sense instead of looking for ways to solve project issues “by the book.”

    No methodology was crafted to suit the very specific situation you’re in. Acting according to schema, while safe, isn’t always the best possible option. Because you normally have access to data about the issues, gather all of the facts while forgetting for a moment the limitations of your methodology. Based on the information, you can then make the best possible decision.

    Common sense often yields the best possible strategy. Use it whenever standard procedures don’t suit your specific situation well enough.

  • 2009-04-10 at 12:54
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    Tip #9 Create team enthusiasm and “buy-in” by using “old school” network diagrams

    Ask your project team to create the network diagram on brown butcher paper using three-inch Post-It’s. This is my favorite planning methodology because it creates team unity and buy-in when everyone helps build the network diagram. I use different colors to represent different process streams. It works like a champ for planning project cutovers.

  • 2009-04-11 at 10:18
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    Tip #10 Stop the escalation of commitment to a failing course of action

    It is a common phenomenon for stakeholders to escalate their commitment to a failing project hoping that it will “magically” recover. Instead of propagating this fallacy, managers should undertake a project audit. By identifying and correcting the root causes of the problem, the project team can create future opportunities and savings for the organization.

    • Conduct in-depth interviews with sponsors, managers, team members and vendors
    • Review all documentation including scope, detailed plan, change requests and risk assessments
    • Observe team, vendor and customer meetings
    • Develop a report that includes how to implement the recommendations

    By performing this forensic review, the project team, the customer and the organization can steer the project back into the right direction. It does not make sense to waste resources on an initiative that is not working.

  • 2009-04-12 at 13:15
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    Tip #11 Two ears and one mouth: use them in proportion

    Ever wonder why children learn so quickly? And ever hear the expression “Children should be seen, and not heard”? There is a connection between these two concepts that can help us be better managers.

    Consider: it is impossible to learn from others if you are the only one who is talking. This is true during a project update from your staff, while meeting your manager, and even at home.

    Unfortunately, some people prefer to hear themselves speak. In so doing, they unwittingly cut themselves off from key information—and the relationships needed to manage effectively. What distinguishes a great manager is the quality of their listening skills.

    Test yourself: what percentage of the time are you talking, instead of listening? Try setting a goal to “improve” this ratio. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

    President, Pinetree Advisors, Inc.
    Author, Online PR and Social Media for Experts
    Author, Personal Balance Sheet Career Planning Guide

  • 2009-04-12 at 16:48
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    Tip #12 Get project governance structures in place and working effectively

    Organizational politics can wreck a project. Project governance structures—a Project Board—can help. A Project Board’s role is to ensure that the project achieves its anticipated benefits. Board members represent key groups. They ensure engagement with these groups and they need to be senior enough to do this credibly and free up resources to support. They own risks. Above all, they ensure that the project is on track and continues to be aligned with business needs. To do this, the Project Board has to engage with the organisation and its politics—on behalf of the project manager. A Project Board can be like a snow plough—it clears the way and lets you get on with managing the project.

    Projects are not islands. A Project Board can help the project navigate the treacherous waters of organizational politics.

    Global Programme Manager, Oxfam GB

  • 2009-04-14 at 11:30
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    Tip #13 Dump clients who don’t pay their bills and/or don’t follow your advice

    If you are a consultant or a trainer, dump clients who don’t pay their bills and/or don’t follow your advice. Send them to your competition. Let deadbeat clients bankrupt your competitors and blame them for failing to follow your advice.

    You go to the cardiologist, and he tells you to lose 10 kilos, give up smoking and get more exercise. You don’t follow his advice and you end up dying of a cardiac infarction. Who is responsible?

    Clients who don’t follow your advice are a danger to your reputation. Avoid them like the plague.

  • 2009-04-14 at 11:45
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    Tip #14 Plan only details that you intend to monitor during project execution

    How much detail should you put into your plan?

    Do not plan details that you will not be able or interested in monitoring during project execution. Do plan details that will require monitoring and controlling later on. Keep in mind that you will need to get update information on them later in the project life cycle.

  • 2009-04-14 at 12:29
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    Tip #15 Get the top few critical project objectives quantified by management

    The top level justification for most all projects seems to be nice-sounding platitudes: impossible to interpret, to put in contracts, to measure progress against.

    It is fundamental to all other aspects of a project that the primary reasons, the primary improvements (enhance, increase, reduce, improve) are spelled out unambiguously for all parties.
    The big trick to get clarity is to quantify all change objectives.

    • define a scale of measure (Google one if your imagination fails)
    • define constraints (worst acceptable case numeric levels)
    • define targets (good enough levels on the scale)

    I promise you: all critical seemingly soft objectives can be better expressed numerically.

    Convince your top managers that their responsibility is total clarity about the reasons and expectations they fund and support projects.

    Management Consultant, Own Company, Gilb.com
    Author: Competitive Engineering

  • 2009-04-14 at 14:20
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    Tip #16 Track time on tasks

    Farmers know their costs of production. Manufacturers know it. But people who produce knowledge and information outputs in our new economy—don’t.

    If you refuse to find out which tasks were underestimated, which projects or customers are profitable, and what is currently being worked on, then very soon a competitor who does track their time and does understand their costs—will bury you.

    Worse, you will be wasting the lives and the time of many people who could be working on things the market will reward them for—things with an ROI.

  • 2009-04-15 at 02:05
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    Tip #17 Choose the right people

    To perform the project tasks, you need assign the right people to the tasks. The right people are the people who have the skills to perform the tasks well and on time.

    Create a high performance team is not easy; you need to choose the best players for your team and lead it. During the execution of the project, new people could be incorporated, you must assure that they integrate into the team successfully.

    CEO and Founder of gedpro –project management experts—

  • 2009-04-15 at 02:53
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    Tip #18 Take your time to find the real problem to address

    Make sure that you are addressing the right solution for the right problem. It is important to spend enough time to analyze the problem in depth and to contact the right people. The latter implies going out of your way to find them, and not to settle for those who are well known to you and who are easy to contact. By taking more time, we can develop a better understanding of the issue at stake and the pay off our project will be much better.

  • 2009-04-15 at 05:57
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    Tip #19 Ask for the success criteria at the beginning of the project

    At the start of every project ask this simple question: How will I know if I did well?

    You must always agree your personal measures of success right at the start.

    If you do not agree on your own personal measures of success with your stakeholders you can be certain they will have different ideas and varying expectations. It is therefore inevitable that you will disappoint some of them. It very likely that you will let most of them down and it is possible that every stakeholder will believe you have failed.

  • 2009-04-15 at 06:18
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    Tip #20 Understand the project sponsor dynamics

    If there is one thing that will dictate the level of difficulty that you will experience within a project, it is the level of sponsorship provided by senior management.

    The more senior the sponsor, the less political the project becomes for the project manager. However, it remains very political for the sponsor.

    Establish the level of senior management buy in early and commit to build relationships with sponsors and stakeholders in order to support and champion the initiative.

  • 2009-04-15 at 11:34
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    Tip #21 Engage your team effectively in problem solving

    A true case of team work on projects is to effectively engage your team in the process of problem solving. While a problem could be technical, management or business related, it will help if you can get multiple perspectives from different team members. Given this, you will end up with several alternatives to arrive at a balance solution. Moreover, you will have an engaged team who will work effectively because they are aware of the current issues and how these issues impact their project deliverables.

    My teams have a basic rule: If you have a problem, think of at least two potential solutions. If you cannot come up with at least two solutions, then think of at least one potential solution to resolve it!

  • 2009-04-16 at 04:47
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    Tip #22 Clarify your position and influence in the organization matrix

    In a matrix organization, you may find that resources disappear because another project takes priority or they get assigned to other tasks. In an IT scenario, key resources may have to deal with a production system failure during a critical project activity.

    You need to do two things during the planning process to address this problem.

    1. Prepare a risk register and share it with stakeholders. With your project sponsor, quantify the impact of missing resources on critical path activities. Do not make vague statements such as “If I don’t get the best resources the project will be late.”

    2. Explore the possibility of hiring consultants on short notice. Is the learning curve short enough? What is the budget impact? Find a consultant, get a quote.

    Project Manager
    PMI Belgium

  • 2009-04-17 at 13:56
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    Tip #23 Create a conducive work environment for the project team

    • Take away all excuses for not doing a good job
    • Remove roadblocks and obstacles
    • Focus on the well being of the people who are performing the work
    • Allow the team to be the best that they can be
    • Protect the team from those outside of the team that would do it harm (deliberate or benign)
    • Actively encourage and assist the project team to become a true real team and perhaps a high-performing team

    Project success is governed much more by the people aspects than the technical aspects.

    Project Manager, PMComplete Pty Ltd

  • 2009-04-18 at 08:39
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    Tip #24 Be honest with your sponsor and your customer

    Dilemma: on time and within budget vs. happy customer and happy banker

    We often hear that the criteria for a successful project should be schedule and budget performance. If, however, our objective is continued gainful employment, then these criteria simply do not matter. Only satisfied customers can sustain our employers and our employment. Look at what happened in the American auto industry and its unions.

    Be honest with your sponsor and your customer. If extra time or extra money will better serve the purposes of your project, let them know this as soon as you know it. Let them make decisions based on the best information available.

  • 2009-04-18 at 17:09
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    Tip #25 Improve project communications management

    • Remember that people and communication come first, processes and plans come later.
    • Do not communicate just by e-mail, it could be very dangerous! Try to combine some other types of communication tools such as telephone, video conference, Skype, Webcams, etc.
    • Do not be an easy click. Read back your e-mail before clicking “send” because someone may interpret your message differently.
    • Open your mind to understand and communicate with your client. They know the business much better than you.

    There are two true things in life: we are going to die and no project will be done exactly as planned. Therefore, you need a plan but planning is an iterative process that needs effective communication.

  • 2009-04-19 at 18:33
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    Tip #26 Communicate, communicate, communicate

    And when you are done with that, double-check to ensure that you did not miss anybody!

    How many project reviews have had a finding that noted the cause of a problem was communications? Yet, we repeat this mistake over and over again.

    It would seem so simple, but it’s not. Communication must be timely. Communication that is too late or too early they will lose most of its pertinence. Yes, you can communicate something too early.

    True communication is a two-way street. If you sent an email copying the world, it does not mean you communicated. If your audience did not understand the message, then all you did was send an email. You may have to follow up with key recipients. Following up, oh the horror!

    Communication is to project management what location is to real estate!

  • 2009-04-19 at 19:48
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    Tip #27 Move everyone in one direction

    If you know where people are coming from you know where they are going.

    As a project manager, you need to move everyone in one direction. That may be your agenda but it may not necessarily be shared by all of your project team members. The Black Pen Concept© says that if you were to hold an object like a black pen to a group, why would some call it black and some call it dark gray. How can two different groups look at the same information and derive different viewpoints? The Black Pen Concept© identifies that we create our conclusions or derive our decisions about work and life based on our experiences.

    As a project manager you need to know where individuals are coming from to get them where you need to go.

  • 2009-04-19 at 20:03
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    Tip #28 Ensure that you have an open door policy

    What is an open door policy? An open door policy does not mean announcing that YOU have an open door—very few people will cross the doorstep and talk to the boss—and those that do—maybe you don’t want to talk to them.

    An open door policy is when you get up from your desk and walk around to the desks and cubicles of your project team members. Open THEIR doors and do a MBWA (Management by Walking Around).

    You get the pulse, you see the motivation, and you feel the energy and commitment of your team. And, you get to make a difference—ask them what bothers them, what keeps them up at night and what they feel good about. And, you get to HELP!

  • 2009-04-19 at 23:17
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    Tip #29 Manage your stakeholder expectations

    Many projects are deemed to have failed even though the project manager believes he/she did a reasonable job. How is this possible? Because one or more of the stakeholders was expecting the project deliverables to be different from what was exactly produced. In other words, they were surprised in some way by the outcome—and in business, people generally don’t like to be surprised. Even if the deliverables perform wonderfully—if they’re not what people are expecting, they will get upset. So, identify all your stakeholders, clarify and set their expectations, and then manage those expectations throughout the life of the project.

    You may not be able to meet all their requirements, but you can certainly manage all their expectations.

  • 2009-04-20 at 08:12
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    Tip #30 Relax. The world is not about to explode

    You are the project team’s leader. How you feel about the project will be reflected in how your team works. If you are anxious about delivering the project on time and on budget, the team will feel your anxiety—which may not improve the quality of their work.

    Remember

    • How you feel about a project CAN change how the project goes.
    • Adopt a positive attitude, even when things go wrong. You will see a change in your team’s effectiveness.
    • You and you team are HUMANS, not machines. Treat yourself and your team accordingly.

    The emotions and attitude you bring to your team directly influence the quality they give back to the project.

    Project Manager, Websystems inc.

  • 2009-04-20 at 10:03
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    Tip #31 Ensure that the project charter has your name on it

    The most important tip that I have, looking back from my past bitter experience, is to make sure that the project charter explicitly states your appointment as the project manager and that it is released by an executive in your organization.

    All bad and good things start from a project manager who is not instated formally and empowered with good leverage to act at full capacity without being afraid in any moment that certain limits are exceeded.

    You cannot be yourself from the moment of kick-off any longer unless the project team, the sponsor and all other stakeholders recognize and accept you and your binding decisions on the project course.

    Before any proceeding, one has to be sure that the project charter and the project manager appointment are formally released.

  • 2009-04-21 at 07:15
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    Tip #32 Integrate (don’t get enamored with) technology

    1. There are many PM applications (and many non-PM applications that work just fine for PM). Use what you know and know will work.

    2. Help yourself, your team, your stakeholders and your customer by presenting a consistent “look and feel” in reports and other output.

    3. Even if you think it’s the coolest tool/application, if it requires others to spend a lot of time learning how it works, keep it to yourself.

    4. If you are going to use a new tool/application, frontload the training—and a) tell your users why it’s important to learn it for this project and b) get the training done before the project starts. It is sub-optimal to ask your team or stakeholders to learn something “on the fly” while supporting the project.

  • 2009-04-21 at 11:02
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    Tip #33 Know the true meaning of project management

    1. You always have to know the real goal of the project. Many project stakeholders have their own goals but remember that you are hired (or employed) by organization responsible for the project and you are obliged to work just for its goals. If you want to work for other goals you may establish your own company and work for it.

    2. Project management means people management. Remember that everything you do depends on people managed by yourself. Project success is the success of your people. And never call people “a resource.” They are human beings.

    3. Project management does not mean document management. You have to document many things but producing documentation is not your basic job. Your basic job is just making decisions and assuming responsibility for these decisions.

  • 2009-04-21 at 17:22
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    Tip #34 Use the “Chinese Army Approach” when scoping project resources

    As a project manager you will need to identify the resources to be included in the different tasks of the project. This activity may turn difficult and may become a roadblock in the selection process.

    My recommendation is to use the “Chinese Army Approach”, which literally has unlimited resources, and assign roles or skills required instead of names of resources.

    When this activity is completed the project manager will have scoped all the required resources and then will be able to identify the internal resources that can fulfill the role or the skill and those who are not available can be sourced from other groups or vendors.

  • 2009-04-22 at 07:24
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    Tip #35 Own the project and don’t be a slave to the project plan schedule

    While it is important to have a project plan schedule to track progress, this should not be your only focus!

    Remember that you are managing a project with people, processes and deliverables. Sometimes we get caught up in the project schedule and think that following the project plan tasks means that we are doing a good job. Keeping busy updating and completing tasks does not mean it is a successful project with quality result.

    You own the project and the schedule is only a tool to monitor progress. Talk to people, walk around and find out what is going on with people. Make decisions based on their input and feedback.

    Keep a pulse on the project and listen to people. Don’t let the project plan drive you.

    HRIS Test Coordinator, Toronto District School Board

  • 2009-04-22 at 07:25
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    Tip #36 Understand who’s who and who’s playing

    Projects attract stakeholders. You need to find out who they are and manage their relationships with the project if you want to succeed.

    Only when you understand who the important stakeholders are can you develop and implement a structured communication plan to positively influence their attitude and expectations. Your stakeholder community is never static! People’s attitudes change and individual stakeholders become more or less important as time goes by. Routine monitoring is critical supported by adjustments to your communication plan.

    If this sounds hard, it is a lot less difficult than dealing with a failed project and help is at hand. Take a look at http://stakeholder-management.com for a range of resources to support the Stakeholder Circle® methodology. This lets you focus on the right stakeholders at the right time to maximize you chances of success.

    Managing Director, Stakeholder Management Pty Ltd

  • 2009-04-22 at 07:42
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    Tip #37 Treat your schedule as King

    Useful schedules are used! The only thing management can influence is the future; the past is a fact and the present is too late.

    Useful schedules are developed collaboratively, used to coordinate the work of the project team and help management formulate wise decisions. Good schedules are:

    • Elegant and easy to understand
    • Concise and accurate
    • As simple as possible
    • Maintained by regular status/updates—all incomplete work MUST be in the future!

    To achieve these objectives you must avoid vast schedules and unnecessary detail—no one understands them and you can’t maintain them; for guidance refer to the PMI Practice Standard for Scheduling. Only after you understand the flow and timing of the work you can hope to develop accurate resource plans and then cost budgets.

    Managing Director, Mosaic Project Services Pty Ltd

  • 2009-04-23 at 09:10
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    Tip #38 Manage expectations

    When it comes to getting a task or a project done it is always better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to over-promise and under-deliver.

  • 2009-04-23 at 10:30
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    Tip #39 Do NOT let technology overwhelm reality when planning a project

    The design, scope and level of technology to be deployed must take into account the actual end user of any project. Do NOT be enticed into the idea that a one button system can be implemented. These systems do not exist.

    If the actual end users of a project, either a new implementation or upgrade of an existing system, are not able to functionally use and understand these new systems the result will be be less than expected usage and acceptance.

  • 2009-04-23 at 12:15
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    Tip #40 Deal with politics in the workplace

    Politics shape our lives and the workplace even more and yet, a lot of us would prefer not to get too entangled in them. The reality, however, is that in project management, more than in any other area of specialization, the success of your project is dependent on how well you navigate through the eccentricities of those in power.

    • Get to know the “political” team members by using work or social opportunities to understand their personality and behaviour and what’s important to them
    • Understand what drives them and how you can partner with them so that they can support you and help deliver aspects of the project
    • Be in regular touch with these members as they are the grapevine and what they say often does shape team dynamics and possibly influence the outcome of the project
    • Keep your sense of humour and yourself intact through it all

    Politics are real so as a project manager, you must deal with it effectively and keep “trucking”.

    Safiya Jamal, All About Words

  • 2009-04-24 at 07:32
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    Tip #41 Put the horse in front of the cart

    • Do things in the right order
    • Ask yourself “what are the prerequisites for us to do this the RIGHT way?”
    • When asked to do things out of order, push back and hold your ground
    • Resist the temptation to say “OK, we’ll do it, but it won’t be any good.”
    • Ask trusted outsiders if you are too involved with the chaos to tell

    This is easier when you are in the planning phases, and much more difficult when you are doing a re-plan while work is going on. Either way, it’s critical.

  • 2009-04-28 at 01:39
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    Tip #42 Be a STAR (Self-Starter Taking Action Right Now)

    • Raise the value proposition in your organization by focusing on the customer first, and producing quality results and outcomes
    • Choose the right fit of methodologies (e.g., PMBOK/Agile) at the right time for the right customer
    • Focus on your own personal growth and development as a leader—soft/hard skills
    • Adjust your leadership style accordingly. Are your teams a mix of Millennials, GenXers, Boomers or Traditionalists? If so, consider how you communicate with and acknowledge your project teams.
    • Make change leadership a focus for your projects and organization
    • Get involved, volunteer for a community of practice, special interest group or other networking group
    • Help raise the awareness of project management leadership in your organization and advance the profession one day at a time.

    Enterprise Architect/Project Manager

  • 2009-04-28 at 11:57
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    Tip #43 Begin with stakeholders’ approval and keep them engaged

    • The stakeholders, especially the senior management, play a key role in determining the success of the project. Try to keep them happy.
    • Be careful in picking the methodology to run the project. If it is overkill, the project can get into shambles. Select the methodology based on the size, duration, budget and complexity of the project with careful assessment of organizational maturity on programs and practices.
    • Keep the communication flowing to all work areas in the project including those who have completed their portions.
    • No project is simple, easy or impossible. There are always unique situations but good solutions normally come from within an organization—and that solution is always easy to sell.
    • Recognize and reward the team for completing major milestones to keep the spirits high.

  • 2009-04-28 at 12:57
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    Tip #44 Manage your project risks

    Identify, categorize, resolve and review the project risks throughout the project life cycle.

  • 2009-04-28 at 15:30
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    Tip #45 Choose one approach and plan accordingly

    When managing a project that requires you to implement a software solution, there are essentially three alternative approaches that you must choose from:

    Alternative 1: Adopt not adapt – implement the solution as is and stick to it

    Alternative 2: Adopt then adapt – implement the solution as is first, then change it as required

    Alternative 3: Adopt and adapt – ensure you understand the risks involved and plan accordingly. If possible, reconsider alternatives 1 and 2.

    These three alternatives are mutually exclusive. Alternatives 1 and 3 require strong business leadership and clarity on intent and scope; make sure you have both.

    If you must choose Alternative 3, be very careful and plan even more carefully.

  • 2009-04-29 at 10:41
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    Tip #46 Plan early and often!

    “If you don’t have time to do it right, when do you have time to do it over?”

    Too often we forsake early and thorough planning because we want to jump right into the project. It is only once we’re in the middle of things that questions come up that slow things down or worse, team members left without the right information are left to make their own decisions about specific elements of the project and easily make the wrong ones.

    Invest the time in the beginning to plan and document as much of the project as possible. And, never hesitate to stop in the middle if questions arise and take the time to figure things out.

  • 2009-04-29 at 12:34
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    Tip #47 Cut early and cut often!

    An excess inventory of unmade decisions is nothing to aspire to. Unmade decisions increase the drag on project efficiency and introduce uncertainty that clouds the true picture of the project. You can always add a little something in at the last minute, but trying to take things out late in the game is the worst.

  • 2009-04-29 at 13:02
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    Tip #48 Wrap project requirements around quality

    When taking the time to gather project requirements, take the time to identify the quality expectations of the customer.

    We are all people with different types of thought processes, our individual thoughts and expectations differ from those of others around us. In order to write good requirements take the time to capture the quality your customer expects. Convey that message to the team and design to those requirements.

    Take the time to meet the customers requirements and their quality expectations, and you will see more project success.

  • 2009-04-30 at 12:51
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    Tip #49 Always have one agreed upon project approach

    After completing the documentation of your project scope and before you begin to build a project schedule—have an “approach” discussion with your project team. What is “key” is to agree to a defined “how” the project will be implemented. Once the approach is agreed to by the entire team, the project schedule will be of higher confidence and clarity. There will also be less potential to changes over the life cycle of the project.

    In discussing the approach with your team ensure to not discuss the time it takes to do the work but list the logical “steps” of how the project needs to be done.

  • 2009-05-01 at 10:54
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    Tip #50 Perform “After Action Reviews” after key milestones

    Projects need to make a habit of incorporating a process of lessons learning during the life of the project and not only at its end. Lessons learning means that at each key milestone the project makes a stop to review assumptions, evaluate changes in the internal and external environment and review risks and estimates. The idea is to adapt the project plans to any changes that will impact its final objective. An analogy is driving a car using a map that doesn’t take in consideration changes in the road due to constructions, accident and detours. Plans should not be taken as written in stone but as an estimate that requires updates on a frequent basis.

    “Planning is useless, but planning is essential”, Eisenhower

  • 2009-05-03 at 10:23
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    Tip #51 Use a to-do list

    Create your to-do list by brainstorming everything you need to do in the day and write it on the list. Don’t worry if you end up with a long list.

    Your to-do list should be

    • Created new for each day. Writing your tasks down unloads your psychic RAM. When you don´t occupy your mind with having to remember everything, it becomes easier to think clearly.

    • Kept in immediate view at all times. Seeing your list throughout the day keeps you on track when you may want to do less important, low-priority tasks.

    • Carried with you wherever you go. You can use your to-do list to bring clarity about relative urgency and importance.

    If you are working on a big project, the to-do list can motivate you by letting you see how much you’ve really done.

  • 2009-05-03 at 13:52
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    Tip #52 Do not be afraid to speak up

    The average large company, running around 150 projects at any one time, loses £13 million a year by not stopping projects that are failing. It’s not always management’s responsibility to cancel projects. If you’re working on something that you know isn’t going to deliver the proposed benefits, you need to speak up.

    The project manager’s role is partly to direct the work and partly to provide an objective position on how the work is done—and that means suggesting stopping everything and starting again, or even not starting again, if necessary.

    Don’t be afraid to challenge senior people. Not all projects are started from the basis of a competent idea. If you know the project is going to fail, explain why it should be stopped. It is up to your sponsor to take the final decision to stop it.

    Author, Project Management in the Real World

  • 2009-05-07 at 10:08
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    Tip #54 Spend as much time analyzing the project team as you do the project requirements

    So many project teams are made up of culturally diverse and/or virtually located resources. It is becoming more and more important for a project manager to spend time learning about the individuals who make up the project team.

    The lack of face-to-face meetings, the inability to “walk down the hall” for a chat, and the different cultural backgrounds can make it difficult for a project manager to provide direction and receive needed feedback.

    A project manager needs to ensure his/her communication with the team equals or exceeds the communication with non-team stakeholders.

  • 2009-05-09 at 07:17
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    Tip #55 Never base your project plan on best-case estimates

    Often, as project managers, we don’t give proper instructions to SME’s on how to give proper estimates.

    Risks must be taken into account when making estimates at all levels of the project. At the activity level, risks can be taken into account using the formula (P + 4M + O) / 6, where P = pessimistic, M = most likely and O = optimistic estimates. At the project level, overall identified risks must be taken into account and added to cost as project contingency. Lastly, at the management level, a reserve must be added to the overall cost to account for unidentified risks.

    Accounting for risk builds realistic estimates. And, realistic estimates are a backbone to realistic project plans.

  • 2009-05-13 at 13:06
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    Tip #56 Always give credit where it’s due

    The project manager is the voice of the project. That makes it easy for people outside the project team to get the wrong impression. They can think that the one who voices the ideas, insights and solutions related to the project is the one who came up with them.

    To be sure, a good project manager produces a fair share of breakthrough contributions, but a good team produces far more. It may be tempting for the project manager to bask in the glow of the false impression, to let it stand. That temptation must be resisted.

    The best way to stifle a team’s creativity, to dam the flow of results, is to take credit for others’ work. Conversely, the best way to promote a team’s creativity, to encourage the flow of results, is to always give credit where it’s due.

  • 2009-06-01 at 15:43
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    Tip #57 Use lessons learned; don’t re-invent the wheel

    Lessons learned are a way to learn from the experiences of others, thus reducing the time others spend solving problems. Use lessons learned to:

    – improve the quality and productivity on work requests
    – reduce repetition of errors and missteps
    – provide a foundation for evaluating and improving activities
    – support continuous learning and process improvement
    – allow associates to contribute to the improvement of others, a project or an organization

    As an example, IBM is shifting the organization towards a culture based on open and frequent communication with employees who are more proactive in identifying and acting on improvement opportunities.

    Turn “Lessons Learned” into “Lessons Applied.” Don’t reinvent, re-use! Lessons Learned are not learned if not executed.

  • 2009-06-09 at 09:01
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    Tip #58 Engage coaches to improve performance

    One team member is falling behind and not meeting deadlines or performance expectations. You have determined the problem is not over-tasking or lack of commitment, but rather a low skill level or motivation. What to do?

    You could try to find a replacement, but that person may be hard to find, and would need time to ‘spin up’ on the project. Further, the struggling team member will have a loss of esteem and the project may be further delayed. A better course might be to enlist a coach.

    Find a mature person with the right skillset to provide coaching and encouragement to the struggling teammate. The coach should not do the work, but should provide motivational and technical advice to help the team member get caught up and excel in the future.

    Everyone wins: the team member becomes productive for this and future projects, the project gets back on schedule, and the coach gets esteem and recognition for their effort.

    Senior Global Project Manager, Intel Corporation

  • 2009-06-15 at 14:00
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    Tip #59 Encourage your project team to share ideas

    People are the most important resource in your project. They usually have great ideas that can solve hard issues. They are smart and can look at the problem from a different angle. Trust them.

    Global Project Manager, Intel Corporation

  • 2009-08-31 at 21:50
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    Tip #60 Focus on the end state

    When working in projects, even if a small one, it is very common to get confused in the lot of information and situations that appear. You should maintain the focus in the solution and coach your team to behave in the same way.

    This can be reached when the information is organized, the solution is clear, the vision of the end-state is commonly shared and the team is motivated to get the work done.

    Difficult situations will pop-up during the project life cycle and if the dynamic of finding the solution is well disseminated among the team and the stakeholders the success of the project will be easier to achieve.

    PMO – Citibank Brasil

  • 2009-09-23 at 11:24
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    Tip #61 Listen more than you talk

    Project managers are inherent leaders. You need to inspire your team to work harder to accomplish more work for less cost and better quality. Listen to the team’s concerns, their understanding of the value of the project, its significance and their role in the bigger picture. Make sure your team is submerged in the mission of the project.

    Listening skills for a project manager is crucial for effective communications across the project. Make sure messages relayed to the team by self or others are (1) clear, (2) accurate, (3) relevant, (4) concise, (5) at the correct level of detail and (6) transmitted using the most effective medium.

    IT Architect & Systems Engineer – IBM Corporation
    Project Management Faculty – Prince George’s Community College
    Board of Directors, Chair – Islamic Leadership Institute of America

  • 2009-12-08 at 07:27
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    Tip #62 Make trust your core message

    Establish a climate of trust on your project. This is a practice-what-you-preach concept so it has to start with you.

    Build Trust

    • Make an effort to get to know your team and your stakeholders.
    • Make a point of being trustworthy through with every decision you make, every response you give.
    • Lead by example. Let your team know how to behave by watching how you behave.

    Manage Trust

    • Build a communications plan so you know your team is building important relationships effectively.
    • Set an open door policy. You want people to come to you with problems.
    • Encourage trustworthiness in your people. Don’t punish them for making mistakes or bringing you bad news.

  • 2009-12-08 at 14:08
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    Tip #63 Keep your plans agile and the objectives personal

    Your project plans need to be detailed for the near term so everyone knows:

    • what they are working on,
    • what their accountability is for the deliverables and quality, and
    • how this fits into the greater objective.

    The only thing that is certain about a long term detailed plan is that it will be wrong. PMs can learn a lot from military strategy – a general doesn’t plan a battle in detail but depends on the soldiers knowing their objectives, so they can react to events and seize opportunities.

    “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – General George S. Patton

  • 2009-12-08 at 23:00
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    Tip #64 Identify, record, track and resolve issues

    Issues are bound to occur in projects. Issues can arise within the project team/performing organization, project sponsor, stakeholders, customers, vendors, etc. A project manager should identify, record, track and resolve issues using the issue log throughout the project. Failure to resolve issues might affect the project delivery.

    As always, enforce a deadline to resolve the issues and to achieve a WIN-WIN outcome.

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