Sunday, July 8, 2018

Managing Projects

Project management can be a mass of contradictions. Creating a comprehensive and detailed roadmap is essential, but at the same time being extremely flexible to deal with all the unexpected things that may come your way.  I have learned over the years that being flexible and receptive to changes that will make the project better is key. Many project managers I have worked with struggle with being flexible or if others do not agree with their decision. For me, being totally open is the fun part of project management. A good project manager keeps their eyes on the big picture, focusing on the final goal, but being able to take care of the small details that keep everything on track.

What makes a good project manager? Well, there are a few specific characteristics that are needed for successfully managing any project, regardless of the size. The following skills are needed to be a good project manager:
  • Good people skills
  • Communication skills
  • Strategic planning
  • Clear vision
  • Active listening
  • Common sense
  • Flexibility
  • Open to change
Most people have worked or been assigned to a project, although many have different definitions for a project. A project is a temporary endeavor with a Start and End date undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Quite often as a Project Manager, you will possess informal authority. Informal authority is the ability, without a formal position of power, to inspire people to willingly follow your directions.

The key steps to a successful project include the ability to:
  • Initiate
  • Plan
  • Execute
  • Monitor & Control
  • Close
Upcoming blogs will address each of the steps in detail. This article will start with Initiate. When planning a project, always ask yourself the following questions:
  • Who will be impacted by the project?
  • Who determines success, and what are their expectations?
  • What are the project limitations?
  • How do you create a shared understanding of the project outcomes?
Before starting a project, it's recommended to identify all stakeholders. It's one of the biggest problems that can cause a project to fail. Quite often organizations will avoid this part and move directly to creating a plan, then wonder why it failed. Once stakeholders have been identified, they should all be interviewed so that you have an accurate account of the needs of your priority community. Then, you document the project scope. 

Stakeholders are important because they may help with major decisions and may influence the budget. By involving stakeholders it can build trust as well as provide permission to proceed with the project. A better understanding of the priority community or stakeholders can also educate the project manager on the variety of ways that the community may be impacted by your great work. Developing a good relationship with your stakeholders can also remove unexpected roadblocks in the future or exert influence when needed to ensure project successes.

For a Key Stakeholder Interview template, please email me at My next blog will cover Planning and ways to create a clear roadmap for smart decision making. For more information go to Promotions West.

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