15 Tips for Project Management Success

Project management encompasses everything from multi-billion dollar ventures to local community activities. Whether you’re putting together a corporate merger or a bake sale, the principles of effective project management are the same.

Consider these tips supplemental to your company’s guidelines, processes, and procedures. If you’re working on your own, visit the Project Management Institute for a host of helpful resources, including the PMBOK® Guide, a veritable industry bible for project management, currently in its fourth edition.

Tip #1: Understand the problem.

In a corporate setting, your projects are dictated by management. Once a project is assigned, make sure you understand the parameters of your assignment, and ensure the project aligns with the company’s goals and strategies. If the project is non-corporate, identify your reason for taking on the responsibility. The more meaningful you find the project, and the more of a personal stake you have in it, the more you will care about the outcome and inspire your team to do the same.

Tip #2: Make a clear plan.

Identify the specific problem(s) and possible solutions, and use that as the basis for determining the project’s scope and requirements. This is a vital step to preventing scope creep, so take the time to develop a thorough outline and action plan, including milestones. Structure assignments so that major steps are taken in a logical order.

Tip #3: Define success.

There’s more to a successful project than timely delivery and toeing the budget. Agree on the essential qualities of the final product. Ensure that all goals have a simple, quantifiable metric.

Tip #4: Identify and engage all relevant stakeholders.

Hold a meeting with all stakeholders – management, team members, and clients – and agree on a mission statement and a detailed plan. Get everyone on the same page and keep them there; don’t leave anyone out of the process. Assemble your team based on a balance of skill and personality, and ensure everyone is clear on their tasks and what is expected from them both during and upon completion of the project.

Tip #5: Identify the technology.

If you are new to this project’s industry, research the methods and tools used by those with similar goals. If you have a technology team, meet with them separately to mine creative ideas to complete both rote and unique tasks. There’s an app for everything, so there is likely software that could aid in organizing or expanding your project’s capabilities.

Tip #6: Anticipate challenges.

Think ahead to likely obstacles and constraints. If you’re creating a budget, leave breathing room for unexpected expenses. If you’re facing a short deadline, focus energy on time management and a clear timetable of achievable goals.

Tip #7: Set reasonable deadlines.

No one wants to work with a project manager breathing down his or her neck. Set reasonable, action-focused deadlines for both short- and long-term project goals. Then step back and don’t micromanage.

Tip #8: Be invested in the people you’re working with, not just the project.

Remember that your team members are people, not indentured servants. A good working relationship with each member of your team is an invaluable asset. Cultivate a positive, respectful working environment. Make an effort to inspire and motivate team members, keep your door open, and trust that delegated tasks will be completed – though it’s your job to make sure it happens within set parameters, e.g. on time and within budget.

Tip #9: Be a leader.

This is your project, and as such you need to be fully invested. Always arrive prepared, work hard, be decisive when questions arise, and be above reproach by your willingness to go down with the ship. If the wheels start to come off, don’t panic. Find a solution.

Tip #10: Hold regular project meetings.

Get the team in a room or on the phone regularly. Refer back to the project’s original mission statement and goals to prevent scope creep and inefficient prioritization.

Tip #11: Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Communicate up the ladder, down the ladder, sideways, whichways, everyways. The communications plan should be open, clear, and consistent. Avoid petty miscommunications and manage risks before they turn into problems.

Tip #12: Document, document, document.

To track progress and compel accountability, establish a system for the filing of progress reports. Maintain a detailed project schedule, regularly revised and delivered to the team. Test deliverables and share frequent status reports with clients and management.

Tip #13: Give feedback and accept input.

Whether negative or positive, be clear with your team members on your opinion of the project’s progress and their contribution. Be direct and constructive; avoid passive-aggressive conversations. In return, be open to input, and give proper due to industry experts and those with first-hand experience.

Tip #14: Evaluate the product.

Based on your predetermined metric, evaluate the project’s success. Survey the team members and, if appropriate, collect anonymous feedback on their experience. Consider stakeholder satisfaction and ask simple, honest questions:

  1. Did you achieve what you set out to accomplish?
  2. Did you achieve it at or under budget?
  3. Did you achieve it on time?
  4. Was the project worthwhile?
  5. Could this project benefit from follow-up actions?
  6. What were the successes and failures at each step of the process?
  7. What lessons can be learned and applied to the next project?
  8. Is the client happy?

Tip #15: Celebrate!

Share the keg of glory with the whole team. Praise liberally, enjoy the fruits or mergers or baked goods of your labor, and take time to recharge your batteries before jumping in to the next project.

Project Management Degrees

Kaplan University Kaplan University offers online programs for a BS, MS, and MBA in Project Management so whether you are trying to start your career or take it to the next level, you will find a degree that matches your needs. Kaplan is a large school network with over 70 campuses, 53,000 students currently enrolled, and over 170 programs available.
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American InterContinental University For students who need greater flexibility in their education, American InterContinental University has online classes for an MBA and BBA in Project Management. The BBA program is designed to teach students fundamental skills and management tools while the MBA is a great match for working professionals looking to develop their careers.
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Norwich University Norwich University provides a distance learning program for its MBA in Project Management degree. Norwich is America's first private military school and focuses on providing leadership and administrative training to both military and civilian students. Norwich is especially a great choice if you are currently serving and deployed across seas.
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Northcentral University If you want to further your career by earning a graduate degree, Northcentral University offers a DBA and MBA in Project Management. While both programs require an undergraduate degree to enroll, the MBA program takes only two years to complete and the DBA can be complete in three. These programs use career-oriented curriculum to achieve tangible skills and results.
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