We're well in to 2007 and that means that New Year’s Resolutions are being tested for many project managers. Here are our top ten tips for better project management in 2007.
1.Have a Mission or Outcome statement. In our day-to-day project work we often forget what the project mission is. Understand your client or sponsor’s main purpose and write a mission or outcome statement that your team will see every day. What better way to remind your team of why they’re doing the project and to keep them on track?
2.Make it your top priority. If you, as the project manager, don’t regard the project as your top priority, then others won’t see it as their priority either. Demonstrate at each meeting, each phone call, and each e-mail that this project is the most important thing you’re doing.
3.Don't procrastinate. If a problem arises, think, consult, and act quickly to resolve it.
4.Communicate effectively with your team. Check in with them often, set expectations, and ensure you are passing on information. It’s not uncommon for managers to get so caught up in daily tasks that they forget to pass on the latest information to the team. While e-mails are great for quick messages, you’ll communicate most effectively in face-to-face meetings. (Check out our Tips for Better Project Communication at empsi.com).
5.Ensure that your project is managed by principals. If you’re using an outside consultant make sure your project is being managed by principals and not a third-tier team. Insist that the project team you were sold on is the team that is doing the work.
6.Review interim deliverables. Do you only glance at interim deliverables without truly reviewing them? This is the surest way to have your project go off-track. Interim deliverables usually include all the information you need to tell if your team understands your sponsor’s mission and your instructions. Resist the temptation to put the interim deliverables aside.
7.Understand your project. Who hasn’t worked on a project where the team leader didn’t understand the technical aspects and complexities of the project? As a project manager you must understand the ins and outs of the project. If not, how will you decide which task to prioritize and which team member to allocate additional resources to? How will you know when your project is in trouble? Take time to understand the project completely.
8.Have confidence in your team. If you selected your project team show them that you have faith in them. Check in often but don’t micromanage. Respect their opinions, act on their requests, empower them. If you inherited a project team then get to know them quickly to make sure they’re a good match for the project.
9.Keep your eye on the big picture. Management isn’t about doing everything, but it is making sure that everything comes together. Take the time to review the project schedule weekly and track its progress, identify upcoming tasks to ensure you are positioned to execute them, and think about how you can improve the process.
10. Delegate. Yes, the preceding tips require time, so here is a final tip to make more time. If you delegate, you increase your effectiveness, you leverage the expertise on your team, you vest your team, and you help others develop their skills. But give clear instructions and define your expectations.
Next month: Next month: Curtains Up! Better presentations, Part 2