Last week, I posted about the Top 5 Challenges for Project Managers. It summarized some of the findings of a survey GovLoop conducted in October. In addition to sharing their challenges, our community’s Project Managers shared some advice for other government Project Managers on what makes projects run smoothly. We grouped the responses into three tips: plan, communicate, and focus on the people involved.
Make yourself a road-map before you dive into a project. As one of our respondents advised, “…sometimes it feels like there’s never enough time to stop the work long enough to make a work plan, but it’s critical and very worthwhile…a work plan will help define roles and responsibilities so that’s a key first step.” Another member provided steps that can be used when planning a project:
Step 1 Identify needs
Step 2 Develop objectives
Step 3 Identify resources and constraints
Step 4 Identify potential options
Step 5 Establish and apply screening criteria
Step 6 Develop alternatives
Step 7 Evaluate alternatives
Step 8 Select
Step 9 Implement
Step 10 Monitor and adapt
A plan allows you to track the progress of the project and addresses the problems of scope, ill-defined goals, and unclear roles.
In regards to communication, the most important aspects that cropped up in our survey were to communicate often and to communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly. As one respondent put it, “bad news does not get better with time,” so it’s best for a manager to keep the team in the loop whether the plan is going smoothly or is hitting a snag. A way to think about the Project Managers’ role is as a “Perception Manager.” “Managing stakeholder perceptions of program progress through clear, concise and regular communication is a large contributor to project success.”
Focus on People
Relationship-building is a major part of the Project Manager’s job. “Project managers spend most of their time trying to get people who do not report to them to do things. That works much better if there is a positive relationship in place.” Not only does relationship-building create a collaborative atmosphere, it also provides for Project Managers to learn best-practices and gain feedback on their processes. “Network to get advice on how to go
about something; do not reinvent the wheel if someone else has already rounded it out for you already.”
Anyone have any other tips to offer on project management?