12 Golden Rules for Project Management

Mantras for Successful Project Management: 12 Golden Rules


Gain consensus on the outcome: To be a successful manager and manage your projects successfully, you must have the ability to build consensus on the outcome you are trying to achieve. You must clearly know what you intend to accomplish for being successful. Without setting clear expectations, you are doing purposeless work. Apart from defining clear goals, it is important to gain consensus from all the key stakeholders. Just knowing your goals is not sufficient and you must gain stakeholders' consent on these goals. If the team members and stakeholders cannot agree on the goals, the project is already deemed to be a failure. However, sometimes this can also become a very long process in case of a large project passing through several departments and organizations.

Build the best team possible: Building one of the best teams possible is challenging and still necessary for your project to be successful. A skilled and well organized team can be the key to project success.  Making the right choices for your team and having the right members onboard can often spell quicker success. Even if you start out with less skilled and not so motivated or energetic team members, your challenge lies in ensuring that your team members learn to act smart quickly and are ambitious about the project and its outcomes. Apart from it, willingness on the part of your team members is also essential.  So, you will also need to use your team building and motivational techniques to keep your team motivated and going in the right direction. Success in project management does not come easy and your team plays a very important role in ensuring success of the project.

Develop a comprehensive viable plan and keep it up to date: - Successful completion of a project also depends on a detailed and complete project plan. This is an important document which guides the progress of a project. It must contain the goals, required resources, tasks and the overall schedule of the project. You cannot lead an entire team to achieve a common goal without having a plan ready. Moreover, the plan alone will not ensure success and you will have to update it from time to time. One plan may change several times during the course of a project. It will undergo reevaluation as stakeholders may change their minds over what they want and you too gain more familiarity with real aspects of the project. As you update the plan, you should also negotiate the changes with the stakeholders or you would have to bear the responsibility for original budget and schedule. So, apart from keeping the plan up to date, it is essential to update the stakeholders.

Determine what you need in order to get things done: - You will need adequate capital, resources and people to complete you project and however hard your boss presses, you cannot complete it under restraints. It would be like squeezing too much value from too less resources. You must have sufficient resources or you would have to rethink your strategy so that you can achieve your goals with limited resources. Getting sufficient resources most often turns out to be the most common problem across offices. It is also one of the primary responsibilities of the project managers. You must first chart out everything that you need to complete your project successfully. If you cannot get everything the first time, you need to renegotiate using the right techniques. Trying to squeeze out right results from limited resources can be disastrous and you must therefore make it clear right at the beginning.

Having a realistic schedule: Time  is one important concern for the project managers and if you do not want to lose credibility as one, you would not change your schedule without a strong reason. Creating a realistic schedule and following it is important. Being time-bound sometimes creates the right pressures to achieve the goals of the project. You can get the approval for a new schedule if you have a very good reason but only if you need it.

Do not try to do more than can be done : Set a clear scope for your project which includes more than just defining the goals. While giving your client something extra may please him but it must not become your priority.  You must also make the scope and objectives of the project clear to everyone.  Sitting a clear scope also helps you from going off course. In many cases poorly defined scope can give rise to deviations and also result in problems that can require extended schedule. Creating a two storeyed building is a goal but what kind of building is its scope. You won’t want to build a mini fort because that is not feasible. If the schedule and resources allow, you might want to do some gold plating but first try to fulfill the scope you have defined.

Remember the role of people is important:-  As a project manager to be successful, you must first understand the role people play in its success. It is not the tools or resources on which you can depend for the success of a project but on the people. Whether it is your team member, some other stakeholder or the customer, you know people are important. They do most of the work and are the end users who will evaluate its results, whether positive or negative. Projects are completed by people and for people. It is the people who bear the pressures and people who taste the fruit. If you keep your staff motivated and energetic and do not over-stress them, you will end up creating better results than you expected. So, people matter and you must recognize the fact even before you start.

Gain formal and ongoing support of management and stakeholders: Just gaining support or permission before starting a project is not sufficient. You have to seek permission and support while the project is on. Moreover, it is also a means of keeping the important stakeholders interested in the project. It will prove that the stakeholders including your boss have real interest in the outcomes of the project. Just having obtained some signatures in the initial stage is no sufficient and ongoing formal support can be crucial in terms of motivation for you and your team.

Willingness for change – After you have defined your target, the path is not always as straight forward a sit may appear initially. So, you must remain willing to shift course so as to guide the project to success. The situation can change because of several reasons and sometimes it may be because of unforeseen conditions and sometimes because you gained fresh insight that changed the entire logic behind the project. The market conditions keep changing fast and sometimes fats changes can render the previous target obsolete requiring you to adopt new goals or just change your strategy. You cannot frustrate yourself over these things and must remain willing to adapt .to the situation. Moreover, if you want to change your strategy or introduce some change in another form, you must know the proper time and channel to introduce it. It is also why communication and negotiation skills are considered important for the project managers.

Keep others posted – Communication is very important to the success of a project and you must not forget to keep all the important stakeholders posted of your progress, any impending changes or hurdles. Regular and ongoing communication keeps stakeholders interested, confident of the results and more than anything keeps you up to date with their expectations.

Willingness to try new things: All projects are not the same and you never use the same people, same strategy or the same tools to complete a project. Many times you have to try new things like new tools or take new people onboard and try new strategies. There are no set methods or standards and depending upon the complexity of the project, you may need to vary your choice of people, tools and strategy. Many times you have to adapt the existing tools and strategies to suit the project and try new combinations as required. Moreover, large and complex projects may require different resources and combinations than the smaller and simpler projects.

Become a leader: Leadership skills are just as crucial for the project managers as any other manager. It helps with team management and helps you establish better control while also motivating your team and leading it to successful results. In case of some project managers while it may feel more natural, in case of the others, they may have to learn it.


Project Management, Sixth Edition By G. Michael Campbell PMP



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