10 Truths for Successful Project
To help you get started here’s 10 truths
about successful project management:
I. Know your goal
If you don’t have an end-point you’ll
never get there. State the goal of your project in a single sentence. If you
can't, your chance of achieving it is slim.
II. Know your team
Your team is the most important resource
you have. Their enthusiastic contribution will make or break your project. Look
after them and make sure the team operates as a unit and not as a collection of
individuals. Communications are vital!
Invest time in promoting trust and
ensuring that everyone knows what they have to contribute to the bigger picture.
Give rewards as well as criticism, provide superior working conditions and lead
III. Know your stakeholders
Spend time with the project
stakeholders. Stakeholders either contribute expert knowledge, offer their
political, or commercial endorsement which will be essential to success. Shake
hands and kiss babies as necessary and grease the wheels of the bureaucratic
machine so that your project has the smoothest ride possible.
IV. Spend time planning and designing
Don’t leap before you are ready. When
you’re under pressure to deliver, the temptation is to ‘get the ball rolling’.
The ball is big and heavy and it's very, very difficult to change its direction
once it gets moving. Spend some time deciding exactly how you’re going to solve
your problem in the most efficient and elegant way.
V. Promise low and deliver high
Try and deliver happy surprises, not
unpleasant ones. By promising low (understating your goals) and delivering high
(delivering more than your promised) you:
• Build confidence and get a receptive
Consider: if everything goes right you
will finish early everyone will be happy; if something goes wrong you might
still finish on time ; if things goes really badly you might still not deliver
what you anticipated but it will still be better than if you over-promised!
VI. Iterate! Increment! Evolve!
Most problems worth solving are too big
to swallow in one lump. Any serious project will require some kind of
decomposition of the problem in order to solve it. You must pay close attention
to how each piece fits the overall solution. Without a systematic approach you
end up with a hundred different solutions instead of one big one.
VII. Stay on track
You have an end goal in mind. You need
to work methodically towards the goal and provide leadership (make decisions).
This applies whether you’re a senior project manager with a team of 20 or you’re
a lone web developer. Learn to use tools like schedules and budgets to stay on
track. Consistency is what separates professionals from amateurs.
VIII. Manage change
As your project progresses the
temptation to deviate from the plan becomes irresistible. Stakeholders will come
up with new and ‘interesting’ ideas, your team will bolt down all kinds of rat
holes and your original goal will have all the permanence of a snowflake in
Scope creep is a major source of project
failure and you need to manage or control changes if you want to succeed.
This doesn’t imply that there should be
single, immutable plan which is written down and all other ideas must be
Build a flexible approach that absorbs
changes as they arise. It’s a happy medium you’re striving for -if you are too
flexible your project will meander like a horse without a rider and if you are
too rigid your project will shatter like a pane of glass the first time a
stakeholder tosses you a new requirement.
IX. Test Early, Test Often
Projects involve creative disciplines
burdened with assumptions and mistakes. Sure you can do a lot of valuable work
to prevent mistakes being introduced, but to err is human and some of errors
will make it into your finished product. Testing is the best way to find and
X. Keep an open mind!
Be flexible! The desired outcome is the
delivery of the finished project to a customer who is satisfied with the result.
Any means necessary can be used to achieve this and every rule listed above can
be broken in the right circumstances, for the right reasons.
- Don’t get locked into an ideology if the
circumstances dictate otherwise.
- Don’t get blinded by methodology.
- Follow your head.
Focus on delivering the project and use
all the tools and people available to you.
Keep an eye on the schedule and
adjust your expectations and your plan to suit the conditions.
finished product, promote its use, and celebrate your success and then move on
to the next project.
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