Author: Kaz Young
1. Have a process to follow.
Depending on the organization that you are working for or with, the project management methodology in use for the project may be dictated to you. Whether it's your decision or not, find yourself a good project management guide and read it. This may be, for example, the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide or the Prince2 manual. There is usually a diagram that illustrates the general process for your chosen methodology. I recommend that you print out a copy and stick it to your wall. It's always handy to refer to and remind you of the core parts of the process.
2. Having a mentor.
The best thing you can have is your own experience - the second best - someone elses? Having access to the knowledge and wisdom of those that have done it before is invaluable. Seek out good mentors, either internal or external to your organization. If possible, make it someone with a positive attitude - really, it rubs off?
3. Tools of the Trade.
Surround yourself with the tools of the trade that can make your job just a little easier. Software tools for project planning, task management (Gantt chart software), issue and risk logs and my personal favourite - mind mapping software. If you're not much into technology then spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel is pretty versatile and can be used for more areas of project management.
4. Time saving Templates
If you've been doing this for a while, then no doubt you'll have your own set of templates that you have probably tweaked to fit your requirements. There are many available, both free and paid for, on the Internet. Choose templates that are easy to use and fit with your methodology. Templates are a terrific time saver.
5. Planning is crucial.
Detailed planning serves many purposes. Not only does it clarify the deliverable items of the project but it provides that all important understanding of time, cost and resources requirements. It's imperative that you spend the time to do this part well as the whole project will be based on the outcome of this process. You will need to clearly document the project deliverables and their acceptance criteria.
6. Stakeholder communication and agreement on the project plan.
This is another crucial step. You need to ensure that all of your key stakeholders who are involved in the decision making for this project have read and understood what is being delivered, how it will be achieved, who will be involved, how long it will take and how much it will cost. It is imperative to ensure there is a common understanding of the project, that it is all documented and formally agreed upon. Now is the time to sort out any areas that are unclear.
7. Manage and track the project tasks.
Once the project work is underway you will need to ensure the work is being doneYou? This means constantly managin, tracking an coordinating tasks. It is important to have regular updates with your project team and with your customer. A project that has regular project meetings will run much more smoothly. People have a greater sense of responsibility and accountability when they know they need to attend a meeting about it. It helps give your project team a bigger picture of the overall project and the importance of their work in the project. You'll also be much better informed about issues and potential issues.
8. Issue and Risk Management
Keeping on top of risks and isseus is another important role for the project manager. Issues often don't just go away and so it's important to tackle them when they first arise. When you first see a risk escalating or become aware of an issue you need to get in and solve it or manage it. Not only does it help your project, but it gives your team and your customers a lot of confidence in you.
9. Give regular Progress Reports
People need to be kept informed. Your project team and your customer need to know what is happening in the project so that they feel some engagement and ownership. Reports should be short and straight to the point, no long wafflying prose here? Giving regular, concise reports keeps the team engaged, informed and give people confidence that you are in control.
At the end of the day this is what it all comes down to. Your prime focus needs to be on the project deliverables. I recommend that you have a schedule of your project milestones and deliverable dates readily accessible and make sure you and your team are focused on these dates and these items.
About the Author
Kaz Young is an Software Development Project Manager with 10 years of experience in managing projects within the health care sector and the software development sector.Read more about Project Management Success.