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?


If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.

In business, the phrase time is money is extremely accurate. Project Managers (PMs) want projects to be of high quality and completed as quickly as possible. Oftentimes, project deadlines are extended and over budget. If time is so valuable in the world of business, why do projects continue to come in late and over budget? The brightest project managers would have trouble answering this question. To counteract this phenomenon, project managers can reduce the amount of time allocated to a project by efficiently utilizing their time.

The text and slides from our course says that project deadlines or critical dates are put into place for several reasons, including but not limited to time-to-market pressures, unforeseen delays, overhead costs, and incentive contracts. Unfortunately, these dates often lead to rushed, low-quality deliverables, produced to obtain bonuses. Every project manager wants to be able to complete a project with high-quality deliverables and move on to the next opportunity. The difficulty arises when project managers are required to present high-quality work with less time. Although the aforementioned concept can come across as unfathomable, it is not. There are techniques that project managers can utilize to reduce a project’s duration. First, a PMs can implement a process known as fast-tracking. Fast tracking is simply working on aspects that are along the critical path as opposed to working on overlapping activities in sequential steps. However, this process can increase cost and is quite risky. Another technique PMs can use is project crashing. This is pouring more resources into the tasks along the critical path. Once again, this process is costly and risky. Lastly, PMs can look for alternative methods such as reducing the scope or increasing staffing to finalize deliverables.

While the aforementioned techniques are effective, they are also costly. Risk averse organizations may want to consider implementing these steps:

  1. Monitoring how people are utilizing their time and removing waste.
    1. PMS should monitor how teams are progressing compared to the developed schedule and determine how staffing is utilizing non-project hours.
  2. Develop a schedule and timeline with purposeful meetings built-in.
    1. Often project teams have meetings that are not useful. Meetings should take place when needed. PMs should also make sure all parties are mentally engaged and actively participating in meeting,
  3. PMs should understand how their staff achieves at their highest level.
    1. Some teams need constant support and contact. While others simply need to be told what to do and they can fulfill the obligation
  4. Focus on the project
    1. Projects are drawn out because teams are gathering and not discussing, focusing or even working on the actual project this is a huge waste of company resources. When teams are together the phones, emails and IMs are set aside. Everyone’s focus should be completing the product

Project time reduction is difficult, but with a plan and exceptional time management skills, it can be done. What experiences have you had with attempting to beat a project deadline or simply trying to meet one?