Project Management has become the de facto skill that pretty much every industry needs. If you are not familiar with its principles, you are already missing out! Whether it is in entrepreneurship or in the corporate work, project management is required. A good project manager stands out from the crowd and is able to handle any project in a controlled manner. I have managed various projects in my time working for the National Health Service (NHS) within the commissioning landscape. Working on Digital solutions in a very complex health and social care system is not an easy task as it involves an array of very diverse stakeholders. The key is making sure that you are aware and in control of the following:
Know your budget
Those who know what something is worth tend to be more accountable for their actions. When you are aware of the budget you hold, or the money that is made available to you, you are less likely going to make promises that you cannot afford. In addition, your actions need to be aligned with the resources that are made available to you via the budget. The money informs the level of power and leverages a project manager as for their project. It also allows you to determine the quality of delivery one can use to implement a project. This could be through bought tools, technology solutions, staff and time. A responsible project manager is one who is aware of their budget.
Follow the benefits
In entrepreneurship, many leaders have spoken about providing value to your audience, this is almost the same thing. You need to be crystal clear as to what benefits you are aiming to achieve through the products you deliver on. This can be understood via customer surveys, research analysis, data analysis, and observations. All of this information will serve to shape a strong view of what benefits need to be met to make it a successful project.
Stick to time
All real projects have deadlines. You need to be clear about the deadline set either by yourself or some sort of executive board and understand why this deadline has been set for this time. You also need to develop a timeline that has actionable steps attached to milestones you want to achieve. This creates assurance for yourself and others that these tasks will be met. You need to set a timeline that is achievable and realistic to reach. Notice how these principles are the same for your personal life.
Quality sets you apart
Understand very quickly what the minimum viable products are for your project delivery. What basic conditions need to be set in order for customers to perceive your end-product as quality. This is expressed both in project delivery and the final product. When you’re aware of the initial benefits that customer expects, then you are better positioned to deliver on this quality. I would also add that the level of character and integrity you endorse as a project manager is also part of the quality the customers are after.
What’s in and what’s out?
Wasting your time is one of the most frustrating things in the world, but if you master the art of channeling your energy better, you’re more likely to succeed; the same is true for project management. I cannot stress this enough, CLARITY is the single most important thing to help you FOCUS on the important objectives of a project. To better understand the scope, talk to multiple stakeholders, partners, budget holders, execs and customers to gain a CLEAR view of what is in scope, and what is out of scope.
Risky business kills
Manage risk at every level. It puts you in a strong position to keep you on track. I would argue risk management along with delivery are one of the most important things when managing a project. It means you need to be aware of what is happening and how it could affect the project. Data, social interactions, and your inner-judgment will give you a strong reflection of what risks you need to be mindful of. Record on a weekly, if not daily basis the following:
- The risk item
- The risk description
- The Risk level
- The impact of the risk
- Mitigations to the risk
- Likelihood of occurrence again
Project Managers at times get confused between issues and risks. I’m going to clear that up here in one very simple sentence:
“A risk is an event that has not occurred whereas an issue is one that has”
The better you are at project managing the fewer issues you will have logged.
Roles and Responsibilities
Never assume that people know what they are doing, most of the time they don’t. A lot of people wing-it and too be honest, fair play to them. However, that is risky business, one that is often overlooked until the end of the project. Make sure there are clear rules and guidelines outlining what each person of the project team contributes to the project. Confirm understanding regularly to avoid any forms of confusion. This prevents any internal risks becoming issues! This also informs the quality of communication throughout the project
Communication is Key
Use the right platforms to communicate your message to your stakeholders. Stakeholder management is crucial for managing your project because people heavily influence the end-product. Keep a matrix of all the people you need to keep in contact with recording the following:
- Job Title
- Communication status
This will keep things organized and tight. Be sure to regularly update this. It may be an administrative burden but necessary nonetheless. Also develop a community of practice, meetings or groups that are regularly attended either weekly, monthly or quarterly throughout the length of the project. You may even want to develop a focus group, to help you hone in on the main details of the project.
Read as much as you can
People forget to read. This is always overlooked and usually holds the answers to a lot of perplexing questions. When you read the background and context early in a project, you hold more power than you think. Doing your research early on helps with grounding your knowledging, and keeping you within the scope of the project. Get ahead and read as much information as you can. I would also talk to as many people as you can that are directly affected by the project. It will give you a flavour as to what the initial challenges are, and why this project was required in the first place.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or working a 9-5, I’m sure you can relate to some of the things mentioned in this post. Continue to use these principles, and have a stronger focus on the areas you are weak in. If you’re yet to start a project, think about a goal you want to achieve and use these basic principles to help you get from start to finish.