Thursday, April 24, 2014

New to project management? 5 more things you should know

Referred URL - http://www.pm4girls.elizabeth-harrin.com/2014/04/new-to-project-management-5-more-things-you-should-know/

poster 5 more things

Last month I wrote about 5 things you should know as a new project manager. There’s actually more than 5 that newbie project managers should be paying attention to, so here are another 5!

1. Know what’s a showstopper
What is going to kill your project? Some problems aren’t that big a deal. But some are huge and will cause significant issues. Knowing which is which is partly down to your professional judgement, and if you are new to projects you might doubt your own ability to make that call. Showstoppers are things that will prevent your project from achieving its objectives. If you hit a problem and you don’t know how serious it really is, talk to your project sponsor or a trusted colleague. Chances are, if you are worried, then they will be too.

2. Manage risk
Risks are things that could potentially cause problems (there are also risks that could potentially improve things, but that’s for another day). They haven’t yet, but they might. Don’t ignore them. The project manager’s role is to work out how to make these risks disappear or at least have less of an impact if they do happen.
Each project risk will need a management strategy and an action plan. Work with your team to establish what to do about them. You might not take any action for some smaller risks but for those that have the potential to give you a big headache you’ll want to look at creative solutions to make them go away.

What documents should your project have?
Project Initiation Document
Project Plan
Risk log
Issue log
Change log
Project Closure Document
There are plenty of others but these are the minimum.
 
3. Learn to cope when things go wrong
When problems do hit (and they will!), the best project managers deal with them calmly and professionally. If that isn’t your nature, you’ll have to work hard to give the impression of having everything under control. You set the tone for the team and they will take their lead from you. However disastrous the problem, don’t run around like a headless chicken screaming, “The sky is falling!” Sit down with some subject matter experts and come up with some solutions to the problem so you can present your project sponsor with a recommendation of how to deal with it.

4. Understand the benefits
What benefits will this project deliver? Every project task you do should contribute to achieving those. These days, companies don’t have the budget or resources to invest in projects that don’t deliver anything useful. And as business priorities change at a scary rate, today’s high profile, top priority project is tomorrow’s pointless exercise. Make sure you understand your project’s benefits and keep checking that they will be achieved and that the project does still align with current business strategy. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time for your project to be stopped and for you to work on something more worthwhile.

5. No one will understand your job
Finally, accept the fact that people outside of project management won’t understand what you do. If the project goes well, they’ll ask why they needed a project manager at all. If the project goes badly, be prepared for it to be all your fault. I have always found it hard to explain the role of a project manager. My job is to make it easy for other people to do their jobs, and if that doesn’t sound like a non-job then I don’t know what does.

If you can get a mentor, then get one. If you can’t, read everything you can, research good practices online, attend training and take some certificates. In fact, do all that even if you do have a mentor. You should never stop learning and developing professionally, even when you’ve got lots of experience and people are asking you to mentor them. Project management is basically about building good relationships with other people to get things done, and as every project and every person is different, there is always going to be something you can learn and take forward to your next piece of work.

No comments: