Rules That Aren’t Made To Be Broken

I came across an article on the PMI web site titled “Three Timeless Project Management Rules”. I was interested in any possible takeaways I could apply to our field project in class. I was able to draw from each the author’s ideas, and apply them to our project to increase efficiency, and help drive a successful end result. The author mentions three rules I was able to apply to the project to potentially benefit the outcome:

1. The number of people connected to the project must aggressively be restricted.

Being a part of a team with seven members, I am quickly beginning to realize this is an essential rule. Currently we are collaborating in email form, due to conflicting work schedules and proximity to each other’s homes. Communication is becoming confusing and frustrating. We all have great ideas to contribute, but many are getting lost or jumbled in the chain of e-mails we have. Currently we have two threads, one with 45 e-mails, and another with 50. Going forward, I think we should assign specific tasks to certain people to limit crazy amounts of input, leading to a more direct and efficient method of collaboration. This also relates to our class discussion regarding selectively choosing who to “cc” or “bcc” on an e-mail, which could be aggressively applied in this case.

2. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.

Luckily, we have a few required reports that are aiding our group in managing the work, including implementation plans, project proposals, and risk management exercises. From what experience I have so far, I would definitely agree with the statement that work should be recorded thoroughly. In our implementation plan we broke down each step into details, laying out a leader and support for each responsibility. We also added due dates to make sure the project was being executed on time.

3. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed, but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program.

Currently we have projected $70 out of pocket budget for our project, which translates to $10 per team member. Our charity has been kind enough to provide promotional advertisements and materials for the day of the event, and the church is donating tables and chairs to utilize during the sale. This has taken care of many of the potentially larger expenses. However it does increase risk in the event, because we are now dependent on these organizations to come through on their promises. Also, any other expenses will be absorbed by our group. Using this idea, I believe we should create a list of necessary supplies needed, and break down costs to make sure we are on budget. Upon purchasing, we should subtract that from our available budget, in order to keep track of what we have left

How do these rules apply to your field project right now? If you had to come up with essential rules for the field project, what would you choose?

10 thoughts on “Rules That Aren’t Made To Be Broken

  1. Great write up Chrissie! I can see how all of these rules apply to our field project. We are lucky enough to have an experienced project manager on our team. She has done a great job keeping us on point and focuses when the emails start getting out of hand! Having more people is a challenge so for some decisions once as long as most of us are on board we’ve moved forward. Divvying out tasks and creating point people has also been helpful.

  2. Nice post! I would add an essential rule around communication plans even if a project is built within a small group. Messages and coordination can quickly become jumbled up in the rush to get things done. Our field project group is still using email as a main means of communication during the week. As a result, we’ve also experienced some pretty long threads! This makes it harder to drill down into decisions that were made or responses from external stakeholders (charity contact, general manager of the restaurant, etc.). Looking back on the process I would have devoted more time to developing a clear communication plan. For instance, making sure that emails have distinct subject lines and having someone take charge of weekly recaps to keep everyone on track.

    I would also develop a rule around digital collaboration tools. We have tried using Google drive with shared documents and Excel spreadsheets, but even that space becomes cluttered. If I was starting all over I would test out Google communities as a way to store and manage project progress.

  3. I strongly agree with the 3 fundamental rules presented in the post with regards to project management. Limiting the number of individuals is important to ensure proper communication channels are set. At my previous consulting job we had work stream leaders that kept in touch directly with the project manager on any updates while distributing work evenly to the subordinates. This ensured a hierarchical communication flow that was very effective. As far as reports, our project manager utilized a tracker to monitor tasks and their respective completions. We also generated reports that would assist in meeting client deliverables. It is imperative to track performance against timelines in order to ensure proper project completion. Aligning work stream and individual goals together ensures the deliverables are met. The final rule with regards to project costs and reports is essential as well. My project manager had us input our estimated weekly expenses with regards to travel and entertainment to ensure we were staying within the project budget.

    Limited project people, effective reports, and budget trackers all contribute to healthy project success.

  4. Great post Chrissie. I completely agree with the “three timeless project management rules” and also think the responses have been very constructive. The restricting of the line of communication is key. Since the post, I think our email chain has now branched out to 3 or 4 different threads. Everyone’s schedule is different which throws off the timing of each response. The requirements of reports are also very essential to the success of the project. Not only does it give out order and deadlines to keep everyone focused, but it gives each team member a clear and concise listing of what is expected and can act as a live-to-date progress tracker. Having a budget, as well as a budget tracker will work the same way. As long as it is well synchronized and easily accessible, it will give the team, and it’s members, a way to benchmark their progress and will help to anticipate and prepare for the deadlines. Having clear cut task for each team member will also help ensure commitment, cooperation, and accountability towards the project goals as a whole. Great topic.

  5. Great bits of information. Thank you for sharing. I am rather envious of your teams out of pocket cost expenses. For a the projects that we are doing that is great management on your cost structure. We have not been so fortunate, having to expense over 700 to 2200 dollars out of pocket for the venue and catering. We were later re-imbursed with the money we raised, but it did eat away at our over all funding. Nevertheless, it is very critical to always pay attention to your bottom line, and I would like to add on to “3. There must be a monthly cost review …” That daily reviews be performed with an escalation plan to address when costs go out of control with a big expense or an unplanned/accounted for cost. Having a plan for items like this takes a lot of anxiety out of the picture. As I have learned in real life and in this project, the unexpected becomes the expected….

  6. There is definitely a lot of truth in these 3 rules and i think in one way or another every company tries to follow these rules in order to be successful in any project they undertake. The restriction of the number of people connected to a project is crucial in my opinion to a project moving forward and coming to a possible close. The more people that get added to any suggestive topic, the more difficult it will be to come to a consensus and make decisions regarding the project. Limiting the number of reports is also key to making sure the project timeline is held to and the project is a success.

  7. Great post !!! I completely agree with all three points being made here. In my opinion number 3 is very critical to the success of a project. Many times we realize little too late that we should have left time and money for the unknown risks in the project. Mistakes like this could cause entire project to fail or suffer in quality just because of lack of planning or forward thinking. I have personally made this mistake and learned from it.

  8. I found this post very beneficial! Thanks for providing these tips! So far, with student project groups I have been a part of, following rule 1 and 2 has been the most challenging. With classes, group sizes cannot be helped, as the professor chooses the groups, but I definitely understand the difficult when you have many people in a group and coordinating meeting times becomes difficult. It can be frustrating, but I have learned to have confidence in the members of my group and know if we assign portions to individuals we can get it done. When working with so many people, I found that a key trait to possess is patience. Rule 2 is something I believe is highly significant when working on any project, especially when multiple people are involved. Being organized can make a huge difference in the success of a project. Reading this post made me realize how things can be much easier with a minimum of reports. Prioritizing importance and acknowledging what must be reported would make the progress move more smoothly. I have not experienced many projects with budgets yet, but am sure when I do I will have rule 3 in the back of my mind because I definitely understand its importance.

  9. These are some seriously helpful rules not only in project management but for anything at all. When it comes to communicating with your group members I completely understand your frustration. It’s not that you’re frustrated at them specifically, but you’re frustrated with the situation of having to communicate via e-mail rather than in person. It’s so much easier collaborating and sharing ideas in person because everyone can put in their input and ideas at that point rather than waiting a day to hear everyone’s feedback. It is extremely important to record work done by each member because it makes a huge difference in the process of getting the project done. I would choose all of these to be a part of rules and delegating work to each member of my group for a project.

  10. I totally agree with your statements about point number one. I feel that the work should be assigned so that each one has a separate path to work towards. There should be a chain of command should be set so that each message is received differently and with various degree of importance. As far as cc and bbc is concerned I would suggest that the groups with in grow should be made so that it is easier to commute amongst the group which share similar interests.

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