Many organizations mistake project management as nothing more than project coordination. And many IT projects fail because of this misconception.
Project management is not just an activity—it is a core skill of effective management. Project managers (PMs) are NOT administrative clerks of meeting agendas, project calendars and schedules of deliverables. They should take on leadership roles and drive the pace of the project.
Here’s my top 3 key ingredients for effective project management:
- Accountability for Failure.
- Effective Decisions.
- Management of Outside Input.
Accountability for failure
It is said that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. Effective project managers know that true accountability is being accountable not only for project success but also for project failure.
If this is clear from the start, few would volunteer to start or manage projects just for the ‘distinction’ of becoming project managers. Effective PMs know they cannot play the blame game at the end of failed projects.
Project managers should have the commensurate authority to make decisions for specific details and tasks of the project. But authority is just the beginning. PMs should also make effective decisions.
Effective decisions should be both timely and actionable. The output of every decision should be a realistic action plan that is shared with the project team. Effective PMs know that the progress of the project is not determined by activities in the Gantt chart but by decisions made for the project.
Management of outside input
Effective PMs understand that many tasks and deliverables are beyond their team’s control. The bigger the project, the more groups involved. And input from these people are prerequisites for many project activities.
The PM will have to do a lot of ‘C’s: Communicate, Coordinate, Control.
Here’s a short list of tips to help manage outside input:
- Identify deliverables as concrete as possible.
- Make deliverables or task list public. Share with project stakeholders.
- Get—and document—commitments from outside groups.
- Do quick follow-ups or reminders prior to delivery dates.
- Hold groups accountable for deadlines. Report frequent delays to group superior.
- Confirm completion of tasks and deliverables as positive feedback.
If you notice, my top 3 ingredients tackle important management areas:
- Self – Get a true sense of accountability
- Internal/Project Team – Effective decisions drive effective teams
- External Teams – Find ways to manage things beyond your control
I’m sure there are more tips out there to be more effective at project management. What tips can you share to be more effective in project management? What habits, skills or characteristics do effective project managers have?