Smooth Projects... Effective Project Management!
Project Management Software Articles
14 Principles for Project Management Success
- Project managers must focus on three dimensions of project success.
Simply put, project success means completing all project deliverables
on time, within budget, and to a level of quality that is acceptable to
sponsors and stakeholders. The project manager must keep the team's
attention focused on achieving these broad goals.
- Planning is everything -- and ongoing. On
one thing all PM texts and authorities agree: The single most important
activity that project managers engage in is planning -- detailed,
systematic, team-involved plans are the only foundation for project
success. And when real-world events conspire to change the plan,
project managers must make a new one to reflect the changes. So
planning and replanning must be a way of life for project managers.
- Project managers must feel, and transmit to their team members, a sense of urgency.
Because projects are finite endeavors with limited time, money, and
other resources available, they must be kept moving toward completion.
Since most team members have lots of other priorities, it's up to the
project manager to keep their attention on project deliverables and
deadlines. Regular status checks, meetings, and reminders are essential.
- Successful projects use a time-tested, proven project life cycle.
We know what works. Models such as the standard ISD model and others
described in this text can help ensure that professional standards and
best practices are built into our project plans. Not only do these
models typically support quality, they help to minimize rework. So when
time or budget pressures seem to encourage taking short cuts, it's up
to the project manager to identify and defend the best project life
cycle for the job.
- All project deliverables and all project activities must be visualized and communicated in vivid detail.
In short, the project manager and project team must early on create a
tangible picture of the finished deliverables in the minds of everyone
involved so that all effort is focused in the same direction. Avoid
vague descriptions at all costs; spell it out, picture it, prototype
it, and make sure everyone agrees to it.
- Deliverables must evolve gradually, in successive approximations. It
simply costs too much and risks too much time spent in rework to jump
in with both feet and begin building all project deliverables. Build a
little at a time, obtain incremental reviews and approvals, and
maintain a controlled evolution.
- Projects require clear approvals and sign-off by sponsors.
Clear approval points, accompanied by formal sign-off by sponsors,
SMEs, and other key stakeholders, should be demarcation points in the
evolution of project deliverables. It's this simple: anyone who has the
power to reject or to demand revision of deliverables after they are
complete must be required to examine and approve them as they are being
- Project success is correlated with thorough analyses of the need for project deliverables.
Our research has shown that when a project results in deliverables that
are designed to meet a thoroughly documented need, then there is a
greater likelihood of project success. So managers should insist that
there is a documented business need for the project before they agree
to consume organizational resources in completing it.
- Project managers must fight for time to do things right.
In our work with project managers we often hear this complaint: "We
always seem to have time to do the project over; I just wish we had
taken the time to do it right in the first place!" Projects must have
available enough time to "do it right the first time." And project
managers must fight for this time by demonstrating to sponsors and top
managers why it's necessary and how time spent will result in quality
- Project manager responsibility must be matched by equivalent authority.
It's not enough to be held responsible for project outcomes; project
managers must ask for and obtain enough authority to execute their
responsibilities. Specifically, managers must have the authority to
acquire and coordinate resources, request and receive SME cooperation,
and make appropriate, binding decisions which have an impact on the
success of the project.
- Project sponsors and stakeholders must be active participants, not passive customers.
Most project sponsors and stakeholders rightfully demand the authority
to approve project deliverables, either wholly or in part. Along with
this authority comes the responsibility to be an active participant in
the early stages of the project (helping to define deliverables), to
complete reviews of interim deliverables in a timely fashion (keeping
the project moving), and to help expedite the project manager's access
to SMEs, members of the target audience, and essential documentation.
- Projects typically must be sold, and resold.
There are times when the project manager must function as salesperson
to maintain the commitment of stakeholders and sponsors. With project
plans in hand, project managers may need to periodically remind people
about the business need that is being met and that their contributions
are essential to help meet this need.
- Project managers should acquire the best people they can and then do whatever it takes to keep the garbage out of their way.
By acquiring the best people -- the most skilled, the most experienced,
the best qualified -- the project manager can often compensate for too
little time or money or other project constraints. Project managers
should serve as an advocate for these valuable team members, helping to
protect them from outside interruptions and helping them acquire the
tools and working conditions necessary to apply their talents.
- Top management must actively set priorities.
In today's leaner, self-managing organizations, it is not uncommon for
project team members to be expected to play active roles on many
project teams at the same time. Ultimately, there comes a time when
resources are stretched to their limits and there are simply too many
projects to be completed successfully. In response, some organizations
have established a Project Office comprised of top managers from all
departments to act as a clearinghouse for projects and project
requests. The Project Office reviews the organization's overall mission
and strategies, establishes criteria for project selection and funding,
monitors resource workloads, and determines which projects are of high
enough priority to be approved. In this way top management provides the
leadership necessary to prevent multi-project log jams.
Article by Michael Greer
"Now that we've used the "PM" software, I can't imagine managing projects without it!
Nothing can slip through the cracks any longer. It's also allowed us to share project files and deas in an organized and simple manner."
Laguna Hills, CA