A Civil Servant’s Guide to Project Management


Project managers navigate through uncharted waters, which can be exciting and/or challenging. The Business Dictionary defines project management as the body of knowledge concerned with principles, techniques, and tools used in planning, control, monitoring, and review of projects.

My definition is a person who wears many hats at any given moment.

I am networking with more tenured project managers who have their Project Management Professional (PMP).  Through experience, I have learned some attributes include being resourcefulness, well-organized, resilient, and diplomatic.

I spent the last six months on a loan project.  Every day I focused on the end result, to reduce loan risks, and potentially help save the agency money.

As a contractor, I did not have a predecessor. However, I used the opportunity as a way to showcase my abilities to innovate and improvise. I wanted to share some pointers I have learned along the way.

Discuss Expectations: Talk to the person assigning the project to understand the goal. Learn about the available resources and how to best to utilize them. You could save time and money not duplicating efforts.  Send the expectations to the team.

Set Metrics: Senior leadership often have broad scope ideas and the supporting team to implement them. Projects are designed to achieve a particular goal. Creating parameters set a standard. The team can decide which aspects are working well and which ones need improvement.  Quantify whenever possible when using financial assets.

Involve Stakeholders: Let them know who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. This could help to establish rapport and show transparency. If you receive pushback, reassure the staff you are there to help –not hinder progress.  Make yourself available for questions or concerns. Keep the conversation directed to the agency’s overall benefit.

Keep Organized Notes: Each project should have its own designated space. Keep track of your progress. Write down or type the material for each meeting for reference.  If unclear about a certain direction, ask the supervising manager about how to proceed.

Evaluate:  Check the progress on a consistent basis.  See what’s going well and what is not. When possible, ask someone who is not directly involved to give feedback.  They could give you a fresh perspective. Take the compliments and criticisms constructively.

Regroup, if necessary.

Inventor Charles Kettering said, “99 percent of success is built on failure.”

The project may yield better outcomes.

Share Results: Concluding projects can give a sense of accomplishment.  The impact doesn’t end when the project is complete.  The end-users need to understand the information, don’t assume what they know.  Identify the process step by step.  Offer trainings or meet with the group in-person.  Prepare a report to include the introduction, purpose, results and conclusion.

Camille Doty is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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