Top Tips for Anyone New to Project Management

My top three tips for anyone new to project management when getting started with a new project.

  1. Ditch that wonderful project accronym you spent so long thinking about. Ditch it and any other words that only you or your team understand. Plain English is the way forward, provides clarity and makes it easy for others to understand. Helps to promote your project and provides an opportunity for others to easily provide feedback.
  2. Make sure you understand what it is you’re doing. Goals, aims, objectives or whatever you’ve decided to call them, make sure you understand them and what change you expect as a result of the project. This is particularly important if the project has just landed in your lap to run with. It also helps you to review whether your project was a success. It also:
    • Focuses attention;
    • Clarifies expectations;
    • Enables accountability;
    • Increases objectivity;
    • Improves execution;
    • Promotes consistency;
    • Facilitates feedback;
    • Increases alignment;
    • Improves decision–making;
    • Provides early warning signals;
    • Enhances understanding;
    • Enables prediction; and
    • Motivates! (Spitzer, 2007, p.16)
  3. Plan, plan, and plan. Make sure you’ve really thought through what it is you’re going to do. I tend to start with a mindmap (Freemind is free if you don’t have any software). I then transform this into what the the project management profession calls a work–breakdown structure, very similar to an organisational structure chart but for the deliverables of your project. I used to think that was enough and put that into a Gantt Chart with some rough estimates of time. I soon learned that wasn’t good enough and now really think through when the tasks need to be complete using Wunderlist to manage them.

Of course I’m only scratching the surface here but I hope this provokes you to think harder about what it is you’re really trying to achieve! I’d be interested in what other project managers would list as their top three tips. Please comment and have your say!

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