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5 top tips for project management


I’m not going to write about the project methodology, lifecycle, process, stages, risk management, exception reporting, budgeting, or resourcing. You can find 1,000s of websites telling you about this…

I want to share some bits they don’t always tell you – some human aspects of delivering the project. If the people aren’t on the journey with you – you can forget about arriving there!

Sarah Gaudin1. Keep your eyes and ears open. Projects will involve many stakeholders, not all that will be aligned with your project. Learn quickly who your supporters are and who is against you – regularly spend time with both.

2. If you can – pick your teams yourself – people are often nominated to join project teams although they don’t want to – or will join a team for the wrong reasons such as credibility. Treat it like a job interview – you need people with the right skills on your team, motivated to perform the role – not someone who is just a spare resource.

3. The scope may not be the scope… Yes – you may have been picked to lead the initiative and the board have approved the scope. You need to validate this before you get going. Talk to people from each business area that will be impacted by the change. Ask them what the scope is, what are the concerns, who else should you be talking to. 9 times out of 10 you will find yourself back in front of the board telling them what their teams really think the scope needs to be, and things get re-evaluated. Do this at the start – you only get a short ‘honeymoon period’.

4. Not all PMOs are created equal. The Programme Management Office run well is a solid support for a PM, but in some cases they can be over bureaucratic, under resourced, only focusing on certain high profile projects, or at an experience level beneath your own. Work with them and provide constructive feedback in areas that you see improvements can be made.

5. People won’t always like you! What? Yes. Often you will be seen as an outsider, not ‘from the business’. Changing their worlds and disrupting their norm. If these non-supporters are in a position of power or influence over your project – try and find the ‘trigger’ that shows them a benefit the project will bring to them. This is NOT always possible – and in this situation you need to focus on the delivery, and don’t let these distractions derail you.

These are reality checks from my experience over the years – but with the right tool kit you will be able to overcome these challenges.

Most importantly - trust your instinct - and you will arrive.