Many project managers are siloed in their organization, without the counsel of other PMs (except maybe once a year or so for conferences.) They spend all their days defining the mission for their projects and your teams, but they haven’t stopped to consider their own mission.
What are your objectives? What’s mission critical for a project manager?
It helps to take stock once in a while and remember your core objectives. Whether you are building a nuclear bunker or organizing the office softball practice, the objectives are the same.
1. Lead the Team
Leading your project team means more than simply managing project resource allocation. While that is critical, of course, a good project leader is able to keep the team motivated and happy, working together and independently to get the job done.
There is a lot more to leadership than we have space to describe here, but you don’t have to be in a traditional leadership role in order to lead others. It’s more about making sure that you are able to facilitate a working environment where people feel empowered to do their job and want to do the best they possibly can.
2. Deliver the Project
An objective about meeting objectives? Yes! One of the most critical objectives for any project manager is making sure that you meet the project objectives. It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – that’s your job!
A fundamental part of project management is making sure that you give the project every chance of success so that means taking the concepts and ideas given to you at the beginning of the project and taking them through to project execution and implementation. You deliver what is asked of you, and in the main, that is how project managers are assessed on whether they are any good at their jobs.
3. Manage the Stakeholders
Managing the project’s stakeholders is another critical objective for a project manager—especially the sponsor. The project sponsor is normally the individual with the most to gain from the project and the person who puts up the money and resources to get the work done.
You are, in effect, working for them, despite whoever might be your line manager on an organization structure diagram.
Managing the stakeholders is important because their expectations and involvement can make or break a project. Stakeholders who expect too much will ultimately be disappointed. Stakeholders who are not involved enough will find it hard to keep up with what is going on and you may find their contributions become less and less. Working in an environment where your project does not have adequate support is very difficult so keeping these people on side is critical.
4. Keep Risk Under Control
Risk management is a project process and a very important one because risks can hit at any time and present problems that ultimately could unravel your project. The riskier your project is, the harder it is to manage and the more difficult you will find gaining the support of stakeholders and your team. You may also find your project starved of resource as people don’t want to be seen investing in ‘The Project That Will Fail’.
If your project risks amount to so much that you genuinely do think it is not worth delivering to completion, then you should say so. Your regular status reporting should highlight individual major project risks and also the risk profile of the project overall, which should be easily available in your project dashboard tool.
5. Do a Post-Implementation Review
Also called a “Lessons-learned Meeting” or “Project Post Mortem“, a post-implementation review is a discussion about what went well and what didn’t go so well. This might seem like a small thing in comparison to the other points I have listed in this article, but sharing best practices and continuously learning about what works on projects isn’t a small thing at all!
The post-implementation review is a critical moment for the project and the team as everyone can reflect on the work that has been carried out and assess how it could have been done differently (read: better). Then you can set to work together to ensure that improvements are made for your next projects. This is the only way that you’ll continually build your skills as a project manager – trial and error plus reflective learning.
You can also learn from the post-implementation reviews of other projects: as each project manager documents what is learned, these can be referred to at any time and form a useful piece of organizational knowledge for future projects.
Those are the 5 things that I think are essential for every project and should be the objectives for every project manager, every time they manage a project. If you think about it, there are many universal principles in managing projects—all that happens is that you scale them up or down to suit the size and complexity of your project. For example, the office softball match might not need much in the way of formal post-implementation review, but the debrief after building a nuclear bunker could take several days.
Every project has stakeholders and a team, and every project faces risk. And you are always assessed (formally or informally) on how well you have managed the objectives and delivered the end result. Whether these objectives are formally written into your performance appraisal or not will depend on the culture at your company, but they are, in my opinion, the things that project managers should be focusing on every time.
Another objective should be to use the right tools to get the job done. Rely on ProjectManager.com to help you set up your project to support all your critical objectives from resource management, document storage, risk tracking and team communication, with one central easy-to-use interface.