There are many techniques and processes to help you be successful on a project. Some of them like better estimating and defining requirements are pretty standard and obvious. Here are some other ways to increase the likelihood of success on your project that are not so obvious.
- Understand the big picture and the details If the devil is in the details, there is nothing more devilish than the complex and intertwining dependencies of a project. You need to be aware of the details, even if you don’t react to each detail each time. At the same time, it’s just as important to see the big picture. Understanding the overall purpose and objectives of the project allows you to make decisions based on broader context. The big picture also allows you to see trends before problems emerge.
- Make decisions quickly Over analyzing and procrastination are a problem on many projects. Use the best information you have available to make decisions quickly. Even if it’s not the BEST decision, a GOOD decision suffices in nearly all cases.
- Communication heavily You can never have enough communication. If the worst thing is that somebody says they already know what you just told them, great. The discussion will be short. However, for every time you hear that, you will have five more instances where the person was not aware.
- Manage risks proactively This one might fall into the more obvious category. But it is surprising to me how many projects do not formally manage risks. Some projects identify risks but don’t put a plan in place to manage them. Risk management does not take so much time. All successful project managers do it.
- Manage expectations Many project managers communicate, but not effectively. The do not realize how to communicate what is happening now and the future looks like. If you have ever surprised a sponsor or customer, you probably were not managing expectations well.
- Make sure you get major documents approved Sometimes we are just too busy to get approvals for documents even if you know you need them. The result is often that there is a disagreement with the approver after the fact, causing rework and conflict.
- Involve stakeholders throughout the project We should all know it is important to understand project stakeholders. But often we focus on stakeholders at the beginning and the end of the projects. To be really successful you need to engage key stakeholders all the way through the project.
- Cultivate excellent relationships with the Project Sponsor Stakeholder management is important, but one stakeholder is more important then the rest – the sponsor. Go out of your way to develop a good relationship with the sponsor.
Use all the obvious techniques for project success, plus these eight that are a little less obvious. You will have a much better chance for success.
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