The Project Manager Blog


3 Tools Every Project Manager Should Have

I’m often asked what the single biggest thing is that helps me manage projects effectively. Is it good communication? Or a slick issue management process? A budget spreadsheet? Or a particular credential? In fact, I can pinpoint 3 tools that I use daily on my projects. The details have changed as I have got more experienced over time, but the headlines have stayed the same. The 3 things that I think I need to be a great project manager are software, templates and a methodology. Let me explain what I mean. 1. Software There is a lot of project management software available now, far more tha...

When Should You Leave Your Job?

I was reading the other day about how many people have started their own businesses or changed sector as a result of layoffs or ‘downsizing’ at their companies. While some of the stories were of people who were let go and had no choice but to change jobs, other people were talking about using this opportunity to actively look for a new role and to make a shift that they might not have been brave enough to do at any other time. It got me thinking: when is the best time to leave your role as a project manager and find a new position? Here are several scenarios that I came up with. I think...

5 Things To Look For In A New Role

We’ve been looking for a new car recently and (in true project management style) have drawn up a checklist of features that we need. It has helped streamline the process because it’s easy to rule out cars that don’t fit what we are looking for. Checklists are great in loads of situations and I started to think about other times that I have applied a set of criteria to help me narrow down lots of options to just a few. The last time I probably did that with any proper sense of organization, outside of managing requirements on projects, was when I took a new job. Moving to a new proj...

What Information Do You Need To Run Your Project?

Whether you are running a small project by yourself or a multi-million dollar initiative with a team of 100, there are some basic bits of information that you need in order to be able to properly monitor and control your project. If you spend most of your time surrounded by detailed task lists, requirements documents and stakeholder engagement matrices it might surprise you to know that you can get away without those. Of course, they are important to the successful running of your project, but if I had to prioritize 5 things that are critical to being able to monitor my project’s progress, t...

5 Risk Management Mistakes To Avoid

I’ve been mentoring a junior project manager and we were reviewing the risks on his project last week. We went through all the risks on the log and we talked about good practice and what he should be actively doing to manage the risks. Then he asked me a question. “What mistakes should I be looking out for?” he said. I thought this was a great question. Too often we focus on what we should be doing and forget about what we should avoid doing! That’s when mistakes creep in as we haven’t been focused on stopping them from happening. So here is my list of 5 mistakes to avoid when you ar...

5 Essential Project Management Reports

“I’ve done the project report,” said one of my project team members the other day. “Do you want to take a look?” The first question I had was what sort of project report was it? I didn’t need to read a detailed quality report, for example, although I know she had been working on a project quality audit with her team. As a project manager, I produce some reports for various audiences and for various reasons, but mainly I ask my project team members to produce reports themselves. It’s good to delegate! Some of these are critical and I want to know what’s in them, but given tha...

Avoid These 5 Meeting Mistakes

Yesterday I had meetings all day. And I mean all day. It wasn’t supposed to be like that, but because some took longer than planned one ran into the other and I found myself rushing between meeting rooms trying to catch up some time, which of course I couldn’t. The disadvantage of having meetings all day, I’ve found, is that you don’t actually have any time to do any real work! You take away a list of actions from each meeting but you can’t fit in managing to do any of them because you are so busy attending the next meeting and picking up yet more actions to do at some point in th...

5 Ways To Use Milestones

I was peer reviewing another project manager’s plan the other day. There were dozens of milestones. Nearly every task had a milestone associated with it. The project schedule looked like someone had spilt an inkpot over the plan as there were so many splodges marking milestone dates. Don’t get me wrong – milestones are good! Project plans need milestones as they help mark certain events in the project. They are also great for project managers as they can be used to streamline reporting and to easily track how the project is progressing. But too many milestones will make your schedule ...

4 Social Networks You Should Know About

I got an email inviting me to a networking event the other day. It’s a busy time of year for me and I wasn’t sure that I could take time out of the office or even finish early to attend an after-work drinks event or a presentation with snacks afterwards. But as I read through the invitation I realized I wouldn’t have to leave my desk – it was online! Social networks aren’t just for sharing funny pictures of cats with your friends or updating your family with what you are doing on vacation. You can use them for professional networking as well, and more and more project managers are...

Why Use A Project Management Methodology?

A project management methodology is a set of processes, guidelines, templates and checklists which help you manage the project management lifecycle successfully, from start to finish. It’s what most companies use to assist their project managers in getting the job done. You probably have used one, even if it didn’t have an official name, as many companies build their own over time. It’s the established way of doing things in your business when it comes to managing projects. However, not all companies run like that. Many organizations expect project managers to work it out as they go a...
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