Best Project Management Practices- Short and Sweet

We have covered interesting set of topics about project management, best practices and top issues. While there may be many things that can be listed about best practices, I came across an interesting article that basically summarized project management in 10 key best practices.  I found the article to be on the point, easy to grasp without getting to too many details. Below are top 10 practices:

  1. ” Plan the work by utilizing a project definition document”- It is often that people just want to jump into projects without following proper project protocol including documentation. Project documentation is one of the keys of successful projects since it lists key components of the project including timelines, sign offs, plans, etc.
  2. ” Creating a planning horizon”- Planning horizon includes work plan, resources, costs which are necessary part of the project.
  3. ” Define project management procedures up front”- It is critical to define the procedures with all of the stakeholders and work stream owners. When things are shared up front and people are held liable, it creates structure for all involved parties.
  4. ” Manage the workplan and monitor the schedule and budget”-  It is important to keep the work plan updated with latest information including the budget.
  5. ” Look for warning signs”- It is important to be on top of the deliverables. Any sign of deadlines not being met or costs being above the norm needs to be immediately addressed.
  6. ” Ensure that the sponsor approves scope-change requests”- Scope changes are part of projects, but all changes need to be approved by those seeking to make them. It is necessary to keep the documentation as any scope changes made affect timelines, resources, costs and everyone needs to be aware of it.
  7. ” Guard against the scope creep”- Scope creep is one of the common issues in the projects. It is important to be very protective of any scope creep as that could be one of the causes of projects not being done in time or budget. Scope creep can be made of many small changes that amount to big impact on the project.
  8. ” Identify risks up front”- Critical to identify all risks upfront as possible. When you are aware of the risks, you are more equipped to plan dealing with those risks.
  9. ” Continue to assess potential risks throughout the project”- It is important to not just identify risks up front, but keep on top of any risks that may take place during the project.
  10. ” Resolve issues as quickly as possible”- Tracking and resolving issues on time is a critical part of Project Manager’s job. Issues will arise, but they need to be immediately addressed.

While reading the best practices, I found myself basically either faced with same issues and being able to deal with them or learning now how to best address them going forward. Do you have list of your best practices? How did you come up with your list? Was it shared with you or did you create the list due to your own experience?


10 thoughts on “Best Project Management Practices- Short and Sweet

  1. I think is a really great list and I have most of these items on my own list of best practices – although most of them are not officially written down. Perhaps I need to heed my own best practice and document.

    My team is working on a project currently where we are faced with tackling these best practices almost daily. One of the primary issues we are dealing with is working with a new API format that is managed by another team. On our very first call with this team we asked for documentation and any examples they can provide of this API in use. A week later we are still without proper documentation and we have no examples. This is something that I have drilled into my team, the importance of good, accurate documentation and this has given me the opportunity to show an example of why documentation is so critical: our project is reliant on it and we still don’t have it.

    And this leads me to my next best practice, which is listed here: identify risks early and often. I have explained to the business that unless my team gets this information soon, the project will be in jeopardy of making the deadline. This is a pretty serious risk and I make sure to tell the business often that we are reliant on another team. In web development looking for warning signs is critical to success of a project. In this case, because of the limited information we do have, we cannot tell if there are warning signs of problems. We know the lack of information is a problem but once we do have the information, we’re not sure if there will be additional problems.

  2. This post made me think about my own list of project management best practices.

    These include:
    1. Project is initiated by operational leader using a project request form and the information gathered forms the basis for the project charter.
    2. Stakeholder analysis is completed up front and the information is used to develop a communication strategy for individuals and groups that will be affected by or have a stake in the project.
    3. Clearly defined scope including in-scope, out-of-scope, and beginning and ending steps (for a process).
    4. Work plan/Gantt chart is developed and status reports/meetings with minutes are used to stay on top of the deliverables.
    5. Proactive risk management approach/plan is used.
    6. Countermeasures/issues log is used for tracking and resolving issues as soon as possible.

  3. I do not know if this list is considered a list of project management best practices, to mean best practices are tools to be used, but my list gives you examples of being a true leader and a true manager, one that manages both the process and people to give the best outcome to project:

    • Integrity
    Foster an environment of honesty and trust amongst the entire manufacturing team (from bottom to top)
    Cannot not just talk the talk, but must walk the walk
    Employees will respect supervisors / managers who follow-thru – need to close the loop on issues brought to their attention
    • Dedication / Passion
    Self –motivated, prepared to do whatever it takes

    • Responsibility / Accountability
    Be accountable for your decisions and teach your employees to be responsible for their decisions – leaders should not “pass the buck”
    • Vision / Relentless Pursuit for Excellence
    Establish a clearly defined purpose and direction for your team and communicate this to the employees – if people understand the goals and whys, they will be less apt to deviate
    Cannot settle for “good enough” or “we’ve always done it that way” – we need to set the direction and expectations for continued excellence and improvement
    • Ability to Teach / Empowerment
    When exploring problems, go to the gemba and ask questions – help teach others how to solve problems versus solving the problem for them

  4. This is an interesting post and I can relate this too another post on this blog that I saw (
    This post compares project managers (PM) to cooks. I see that many of the practices you list are accounted for in the comparison of how a cook and a project manager work similarly. For example, the other post mentions that the PM and cook must understand the project expectations/requirements (or recipe) which is similar to steps 1-3 here. Also, the post mentions how PMs and cooks must watch the clock to make sure the project (or food) is completed correctly and on time without any portions of the project taking too long. This comparison seems to match up with step 5 here. I feel that these two posts are very well intertwined and I enjoyed reading them both and making this connection.

  5. This best project management list is a great summary of how to best handle a team. In my opinion, success is achieved when the project manager is focused, driven, and remains composed. The strongest part of this article is the part that talks about risk and then resolving of issues. Far too often, if not always, one thing will go wrong in a project and it derails from the success of the outcome. If the manager is proactive and looks to eliminate those risks/ potential mishaps a project can be truly successful.

  6. I understand that you are speaking of project management and both the practices that a project manager should use and also how to comfront issues that they may run into. I like this list because it prepares a project manager for many things that he/she may run accross. Project manageers have to assume that not everything will go perfectly and when something goes wrong, they need to have a plan in place for corrective action.

  7. Great post! This is a great outline for not just project managers but for anybody involved in a group dynamic working for a common goal.
    It seems that any good project manager should be prepared to plan, assess risks, and put forth details for all parties to understand. After the planning stage, the project manager’s role is ongoing – continually adadpting to changes in the initial plan and foreseeing possible issues. By following the points given a project manager should be very successful in managing their projects.

  8. I really like this post because it lays out a lot things that are needed to ensure a project is legal and successful. I am a eagle scout and a lot of things are relatable to my project. For example, defining procedures up front, I had to meet with the owner or manager of the location I did my project with and ensure there are no things that I must watch out for. With deadlines I had to resolve issues as quickly as possible, so when I had a problem with a water line pipe going through my project I had to adapt and change. good article!!!

  9. This is important because it describes ten great project management practices that are helpful in achieving a common goal. What i found great about this blog is how the repetition of fixing risk was mentioned. In order to be successful failure is not an option. Handling risk in an early stage is key and the project managers need to be aware of actions being taken towards making everything goes as planned. Being successful is what everyone wants and by following this practices one can be on the right track to having that success, great post!

  10. I really enjoyed this article and your response to it. The first practice it talks about probably hit home with me more than any of the others. I have the bad habit of jumping into projects head first with limited planning, and then figure out what works and what doesn’t as I go. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad habit for all types of work, but I will definitely agree that it is a big no-no when you are a project manager. I think it is very important to be both proactive and adaptive within the working phase, but proper planning is critical and will limit unwanted surprises in the working phase of the project. Great article and post!

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