Tips for Project Management Success

In our project management course we have discussed the use of a Work Breakdown Structure and a Responsibility Matrix in order to assist us in effectively managing a project. We also need to keep in mind that there are other tools that one acquires outside of a classroom. The author in the article below shares several secrets to project management success. I have listed a few of them with my thoughts.

1. Have full project details before starting.
Understand the scope of the project, and make sure all the stakeholders agree. The project details should contain dates, budget information, and milestones. I have worked on projects that didn’t contain the budget information, and then I was told that we have spent more than we were supposed to.

2. Have the right size project management team in place.
Once you know what the project details are, determine the skills and experience that is necessary, and then select the people you will need. I feel that if you only need 4 people for example, than only select the 4 people you need. Selecting more people then needed will add more work because the project manager now needs to manage a larger group.

3. Be clear about who is responsible for what.
Determine who in the team is responsible for which part of the project, and make sure they are accountable. This step is critical because the project manager and the team need to know what everyone is working on, and what everyone will deliver on the due date.

4. Don’t micromanage.
It’s okay to meet regularly with your team members, but allow them space to work. I have seen this too many times; where a manager doesn’t give his/her employee the space needed to work. What this causes is resentment, and your team may challenge your leadership.

5. Keep team members motivated by rewarding them when milestones are reached.
It is a good idea to motivate and recognize members of your team with some kind of reward. I have worked on projects where the manager has awarded their teams with a lunch or outing during certain milestones.

6. Hold regular project status meetings or calls, but keep them short.
Meetings or conference calls should be scheduled regularly so everyone is up to date on the project’s status. In my experience, meetings need to be long enough to discuss the status, and any open issues that need to be addressed. They don’t need to be too long.

7. Build in time for changes.
Allow time for last minute changes that may need to be made to your project if the specifications change or requests are made. Based on my experience as an engineer, almost all projects always need that extra time to address last minute requirements.

The author states several good tips that I agree with.  Are there any additional tips that you can share that may help one be successful at managing projects?


9 thoughts on “Tips for Project Management Success

  1. Hi Doug,

    Awesome post! I like and agree with all of the tips listed in the article. It’s interesting that at the beginning of the class we were taught some of these basic tips and it wasn’t until our group project that we truly understand the significance and impact these tips can have on the outcome of our project. The last one listed, building time for changes was one that our group recently experienced and because the group understood the circumstances and weighed out the cost/benefit, it made more sense to push the time back.

    Btw, you’re doing a great job as project manager!

  2. Doug,

    Great post. I think the tips to avoid micromanaging, providing appropriate team rewards, and keeping progress calls short are particularly useful. These practices are strictly under the control of the project. Effective leadership is more likely to result in happy and engaged task members, which makes any project more successful.

    The other areas are not always under our control. For example, organization size and the number of ongoing projects can limit the number of people we can pull into a task force. Also, as some of us may have seen in our fundraising project, obstacles can arise that we could not have predicted, even when we thought we had all the information. Because of this, tip 7 is extremely important! Project managers have to be able to adapt and should build in time for any necessary adjustments.

  3. This article does bring up some good points. Rewarding team members can go a long way, even a small gesture like treating them to lunch. This gesture can go a long way for you especially on future projects; most of the time individuals will go the extra mile for you if they feel appreciated. Motivation is a large part of any managers job and it’s no different for project managers. Another point made was building in extra lead time. This is critical because there will always be unexpected delays or changes during a project. By adding a little extra buffer time, this allows you to look like a hero when the project is complete. If all milestones are hit on time and the project is completed without any setbacks you will actually finish before the targeted date. There are other good points made, but those two stood out the most.

  4. Douglas,
    This is a very good article about project management success with tips for project managers. I agree with all of the “secrets” revealed in the post and wanted to add my comments to a couple of them. Please see below my comments.
    2. Have the right size project management team in place.
    I feel that while it’s a good idea to select what seems to be the right size for the project at the onset, it’s important to be flexible with the size of the team because you may need to seek assistance from experts along the way and they could become part of the team in later stages. In addition, there could be instances where you may need to let a team member go because of either under performance or they are pulled into other projects with higher priority.
    4. Don’t micromanage.
    I think this depends on the project and the team members. There are times when you are assigned to a project and a team that’s already been assembled. In these cases, because you didn’t build the team, the project manager may feel the need to micromanage because he/she doesn’t know the team well enough to trust them.

  5. Useful post. I would like to talk a little more about micromanage. I think micromanaging depends on the situation and people. One side, it is helpful for employee during the learning process or building a new team. But it is only effective for a short time. On the other side, it frustrates employee who has skill and experience. The employee will feel the project manager adds too much extra work and couldn’t see any value in it. So I agree with that micromanaging doesn’t develop people’s talent and energy in theis situation.
    Also risk planning is important for project management success. I don’t value risk management at the beginning. But after a case study, I can see the differences and benefits when we compare the result with and without proper risk planning.

  6. Love this post!! Every single one of these tips is crucial and many times people don’t think of them until after the project ends. For #3 – When I’m leading a project and assigning tasks, I like to project my screen up on the TV in the conference room so everybody can see what they’re signing up for. This also allows them to visually see what the action item is and the due date. This would be the time to say something if they feel they will not be able to commit to the deadline. After the meeting, I also send out the notes so everyone is held accountable for the action items.

  7. Doug- After seeing projects foil out at work, I could not agree more with the article you found. Rule #3 “Be clear on who is responsible for what” is something that I have come across that truly makes projects flow. I have been on projects where people are not specifically clear on whos responsibilities different tasks are. This led to duplicated work in some areas and other areas left untouched. I think this should be a top priority in project management otherwise it could have detrimental effects on the success of the project.

    I also agree with rule #7 which states “Build time for changes”. I would change this statement just a little and say “anticipate changes and forecast obstacles”. Obviously you can’t foresee all obstacles on a project but it is good to evaluate in the beginning of a project as this could help with the structure of the project and even cut down on unexpected costs.

  8. DOUG,
    Great stuff here. the two points you nail are having the full project scope in hand before you start and not to micro manage.

    Many people have great ideas, but great ideas doesn’t necessarily mean a successful project. The great ideas must be meticulously defined and laid out. What is it. Who will do what. Most the key pointers we hit in the PWS. A poor scope from the beginning will hurt a lot down the road.

    The next point is the micro manage. If you select the right team members in the first place, then it is important to allow them to do their thing. Let them use their skill sets and stay out of their hair. Don’t waste time looking over their shoulders. This is not a good use of your time and it annoys them!

  9. Doug great article. you emphasized on two main points that captured my thoughts. I agree with this article 100% great ideas must be defined and pointed out effectively. Selection of team members plays a great role on project management success. These seven tips are highly effective in the project management success. With you being our team project manger i feel our team used this method to find success for our fundraiser project. Thank you for the great blog knowledge on project management success.

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