The Project Manager Blog

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5 Ways That Assigning Tasks Helps You Manage Your Project

Got a task list? Added in some milestones? Worked out what order the tasks have to go in? Great! Have you assigned someone to every task? No? Why not? It might seem as if resource allocation – the act of assigning a project team member to work on a particular activity on the project plan – is a bit of a waste of time. After all, it should be relatively easy to do this on an ad hoc basis as the project progresses by simply talking to the project team members regularly. You might feel this will save lots of time using scheduling software to create resources and allocate them to bits of wo...
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5 Ways To Share Knowledge With Your Team

This is something I hear a lot: “I wish I had known that…” followed by something like: “Emma could do that,” or “the document existed already,” or “that Finance used that process.” Well, someone on your team probably does know all that already, and the difficulty is in finding out who and getting the knowledge out of their heads. This doesn’t happen automatically. People don’t know what others don’t know so they don’t volunteer information. Or you could work in a culture where people don’t share information with their colleagues routinely. You can change that on ...
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What You Should Know About Project Dashboards

It’s thought that the term ‘dashboard’ comes from the panel on a horse-drawn cart that stopped the driver being splashed with dirt from the horses’ hooves. These days, dashboards are a feature of other road vehicles, displaying data about the journey and driving conditions (still in front of the driver, though). And, of course, the term is also used for reports that show key data about something, such as projects. Dashboards are a really underrated project tool. Too often project managers rely on project status reports when a project dashboard would be more useful. I believe the rea...
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5 Habits Of Successful Project Managers

What does a successful project manager do? We’ve worked with hundreds of project managers over the years (some less successful than others, but we won’t name any names!). Over time we’ve picked up a number of trends – these show up time and time again as the habits of people who are successful at managing projects. We thought it was time to share these with you so that you can also adopt these ways of working. Below you’ll find the 5 top habits of successful project managers. How many of these habits do you already have? 1. Managing The Team The project team won’t manage thems...
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What’s In Your Job Description?

You do have a job description, don’t you? It’s a really valuable document that sets out what your roles and responsibilities are for the project and on a wider basis. It often forms part of the official contract between you and your employer so it is worth getting one formalized if you don’t have a job description yet. Job descriptions can be long or short, detailed or high level, and provided you feel it is clear and your employer is happy, any format will do. The important thing is that it explains what you are accountable for and the context of your role. There are lots of differen...
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What’s Your Project Management Skills Gap?

Project managers are expected to be all round performers. We are supposed to have a good mix of technical skills like scheduling and expense management, and the soft skills that it takes to run a team like leadership and communication. However, I’m certainly not an expert in everything in the project management manuals, and I have yet to meet a project manager who excels in every area. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of being able to say, “Well, I’m not very good at risk management so I won’t do that on this project.” Every project needs every technique to a certain exten...
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5 Things NOT To Say To Your Project Team

I get to travel to lots of different office locations and I’ve worked and consulted with many companies over the years. It’s given me a great insight into how different firms work (or don’t work), and I’ve got to spend time with plenty of project management teams. While I’ve seen lots of examples of good practice with teams working well together and project managers taking the lead and managing effectively, I’ve also seen some shocking examples of poor team management. Mostly, this takes the form of people not knowing what to say and saying something completely inappropriate or ...
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How To Get Work-Life Balance As A PM

Ahh, the relentless pursuit of a work-life balance; it’s hard to achieve and even harder to maintain. Rather than trying so hard to allocate nice little slices of time throughout each day for certain activities, the following article provides a different view of obtaining and maintaining work-life balance. Do you remember the see-saw you used to ride as a kid at the park or schoolyard? What a blast! It’s really quite a simple contraption—just a long board perfectly centered on a support in the middle—with a handle near at each end to hold on to for dear life. The more thoughtful pla...
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5 Ways to Respond To Difficult Emails

I did a lot of odd jobs when I was a teenager. One of the more memorable was the week I spent clearing brush out of a lot where a new home was going to be built. It wasn’t that the job itself was memorable. The work was actually quite miserable. It was hot and humid, the tree sap on the branches was sticky, poison ivy was all over the place, and the days were long. No, it wasn’t the job itself, but rather what happened after my job had been completed. The homebuilder had told me to put everything in a huge pile in the middle of the lot. Once I had completed that, he would come back and ...
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5 Reasons Why Project Requirements Are A Must

“So what’s your project all about?” I asked a project manager I had just met at a conference last month. “Oh, we’re having to be very flexible,” she said. “We don’t have formal project requirements so we’re adapting as we go along, but it’s generally about improving sales of our flagship software product.” That sounded a bit vague to me, so I asked her more about it as we nudged our way forward in the lunch queue. She’d been asked to improve sales but without any formal guidance about exactly how to do it. There were no requirements, and the stakeholders didn’t ...
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