Today’s article is from long standing Project Management trainer Ron Rosenhead. Ron has a popular bog, where he reflects on his experiences. He has spent 20 years training new Project Managers and we asked him to share his top ten tips for a new Project Manager. Here is his response.
I am often asked what the top 10 tips are for new project managers. Therefore I thought I would write a short article that encapsulates my thoughts. Of course, some more experienced people may think otherwise… If you are one of them, I’d love to hear your top 10 in the comments below.
This describes your journey through the project; it explains to the client and stakeholders what will be delivered. Without this clear sense of direction, how will you know where to go and whether you have actually arrived? A typical mistake that a new project manager would make is to speed past this vital step.Without clear sense of direction, how will you know where to go & whether you've arrived? @ronrosenhead #pmot Click To Tweet
Stakeholders are those people who will have an interest in, or be impacted by, your project. It is important to realise that stakeholders can and will have an impact on your project… from clear support to derailing it. This means you need to analyse who your stakeholders are and identify what you need to do to manage them effectively.
Even if you are a new Project Manager, chances are you must see this advice pretty regularly. So I hope you are still reading! Let me give some statistics to confirm the view that we all need to do more in this area.
In a Project Agency survey, nearly 68% of project managers said that project communications were either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. Only if we make a more concerted effort, will we improve this issue. And also note that there is a very strong link here, with stakeholder management.
Where you have a project team invest in them. Look at their development needs. Look at the internal communications with them. And look at the way you make decisions – with or without them. You need the strength of the team around you. One person in another department may well be involved in your project for just half a day. But they are still a part of your team. So how do you engage with them?
Ensure you carry out risk assessments throughout the life of your project. I regularly speak to people who tell me ‘we were hit with a sudden issue (risk) which really set us back’. Risk assessment is a proactive process and will aid delivery of your projects. It also gives you more control. Another typical mistake new project managers make is to do their risk analysis once, and then move on.
Be sure you build a really positive plan… And a plan that you can deliver. Many people tell me their plan is a list of activities, or ‘an action plan’ or ‘it’s in my head’. Use charts to help you and your team. These can be any type of charts as long as they support delivery. That is, they need to show the activity to be done, and by when. Indeed, a good plan will help you win over your stakeholders.
Projects take time to deliver. But they also take time to manage.
Whether you are experienced or a new project manager, you cannot spend that management time on other tasks. So build this into your project plans. And include the team’s project management and admin time as well. This will help ensure your plan is realistic. And anyway, you can only be in one place at one time…#Projects take time to deliver. But they also take time to manage. #PMOT @ronrosenhead Click To Tweet
It is all too easy to take on board a change that someone requests: ‘oh, just add this to the project’. But, this may impact on your ability to deliver your objectives. Therefore, I suggest when you identify your objectives, you also set out what is included and what is excluded from your project scope.
Be as specific as possible and ensure that any requests for changes are monitored and are formally approved before you commit to enact them. Even the ‘good ideas’ need to go through this process. So you need to control change requests!
Keep monitoring simple. Be constantly aware of what is going on.
And likewise reporting. Use a one page report (a highlight report) and agree in advance the frequency of publication. Even if no one asks you for a report, I would provide them for senior managers, your client, and your key stakeholders. Communication is good because it quells the rumour mill. And reports create transparency and enhance good governance.
One person said on a project management course that their projects simply dribble on and on and on…
Ensure you have a clean end to the project by having a formal closure meeting. Look at what you have learned and whether you achieved the objectives. And set up another review to look at the overall benefits of the project at an agreed date some time after completion of your project.
These are my top 10 tips. You may have others. So why not share them in the comments section below.
Ron Rosenhead is an international project management consultant. He works with companies to increase the probability of project management success through consulting, running training workshops, speaking at conferences and is also a published author. You can find out more about the writings of Ron Rosenhead at ronrosenhead.co.uk
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