The Project Manager Blog

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Warning! Avoid These Task List Problems

“Here’s my task list,” said one of my project team last week. She gave me a massive print out which ran to 3 pages. Everything was in the same font, the same size and there was no distinction between tasks. How would she know what was a priority and which order to work on them? When I asked her, she said she had all that detail in her head and it was fine. It may have been fine for her, but for many people that kind of task list would just create inertia: it’s impossible to know where to start when faced with so much to do. And what would have happened if she had got sick and someon...
154

5 More Habits Of Successful Project Managers

In the past we’ve looked at what successful project managers do to make them successful, and I’ve written about the habits that they have that lead them to make their projects a success. Today I wanted to look at 5 more habits that successful project managers have. I’ve seen these things come up time and time again in performance reviews and annual appraisals and also in post-project reviews when stakeholders are praising project managers for a job well done. That could be you! Regardless of your experience managing projects you can adopt the following habits and improve your chances ...
36

Introducing Project Change Management

“The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.” You might have heard that quote from John P. Kotter before, and it’s certainly true on projects. Sometimes things move so fast that the environment that exists when you start out on your project isn’t the same as when you are maybe only a few months through. And that means your project has to change to fit the new environment. Many project managers feel comfortable setting up a project and seeing it through but less comfor...
73

How To Take Over A Project From Someone Else

There’s one common item that always seems to make the news: changes at the top. Soccer teams get new managers, politicians shuffle around their advisors and businesses get new management teams. Regardless of where you are in the world or what area of life it is, there is always something in the newspaper about senior people moving on. And apart from the obvious “did he go or was he pushed?” question, the next thing people want to know is who is taking over. It can be quite unsettling when that happens on a project, especially when you are the person taking over! Project managers leave...
71

5 Ways To Improve Project Communications

Reading reports of failed projects in the newspapers I often see that one of the things that frequently goes wrong is that the project team doesn’t communicate well. You might have heard that most of a project manager’s job is actually about communication – not scheduling, risk management or resource planning! I think that’s true. Unless people know why they are doing the project and how much progress is being made, it’s too easy for poor communication to stop the project moving forward or to create problems such as two people working on the same task or having to do something again ...
47

5 Things That Will Kill Your Project

Recently, a fellow project manager found herself out of work because her project had been stopped. Overnight, her contract was ended as the project was cancelled. When we caught up for a coffee a couple of weeks later we talked about what went wrong, and she was very gracious in admitting that it was her project management skills that had let the project down. She hadn’t spotted some of the warning signs so she hadn’t been able to take any mitigating actions to stop things from going wrong. As a result, a couple of factors conspired to kill her project and there was nothing she could do ab...
210

Avoid These 5 Planning Mistakes

How good is your project plan? The plan provides so much of the information that you need to run your project that it really is worth taking the time to make sure that it is as good as possible. The better your plan, the better it will serve you and the project team and help you keep everything on track. Having said that, it’s easy to overlook some simple things that could make your plan so much better. Let me tell you about the top 5 planning mistakes that we see on schedules over and over again. Mistake #1: No Milestones Your software for project planning is designed to include milest...
53

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...
15

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 ...
62

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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