November 3, 2009

Summarizing my brief tips for project managers

So, that was the 10 posts. Here are my 10 brief tips for successful project management summarized (each sentence links back to the individual post):
  1. Do not forget that it is the people in the project teams that actually deliver successful projects
  2. Be sure to use every chance throughout the project to manage expectations
  3. Be sure to put conclusions in writing immediately, even if not using documentation heavy methods
  4. You can never communicate too much as a project manager
  5. Keep a close eye on risks throughout the project and use a visual risk log as a communication tool
  6. Starting - not just planing, but actually doing - the most difficult tasks as early as possible increases the likelihood of a good result and minimizes the effect of a bad one
  7. Establish checkpoints that you follow in each of your projects, even if operating in an agile way
  8. As a project manager, try to add value beyond administering the project
  9. Make sure that you have buy-in on all relevant levels, and reconfirm this as the project moves on
  10. Try to look beyond the project, to ensure the project contributes to reaching the overall goals of the organization
When I look at it now, what do I feel – should I have changed something drastically? I think I might have created one specific post on goals. I think it is really important to have the goals clearly defined (and on the right level) and understood across project team and stakeholders. That is maybe buried a bit in the “managing expectations” heading in the current list of tips. Make sure to have it clearly visible in your mental checklist.

Apart from that and to be sure to communicate roles and responsibilities very clearly (and also to always work in stages or increments, but that is sort of given and an underlying assumption in everything that I have written so far, I think...) I am quite happy with the list as it has developed. But you might not be, and then the best way to show it would be leaving a comment. :-)

The always challenging question of summarizing it all in a sentence? Well, how about: Be proactive and care for your team, choose common sense rather than legal fights and have fun!?


  1. Wow! Nice blog! Highly relevant. I will make sure to include your insight in my thesis, where I answer the following question: "What are the success factors of agile management? A study in team dynamics and project governance in agile projects"

    I like your 10 points, and there may be significantly more points (for instance, keep it simple but no simpler?)

    However, your point 6 "start with the most difficult task first". Previously I would agree with you but now I'm not so sure. I'd say "Start with the most valuable task first". Hence, if you keep a strict priority scheme according to value, the task thought initially to be difficult may not be as challenging in the end when learning, understanding and a different way of thinking is applied.

    I'll make sure to check out your blog from time to time!

    Good luck with your new company - think big, strike harder!

    -- Bård

  2. Thanks a lot, Bård.

    I really look forward to have a look at your thesis once it is done - let me know.

    As for hard vs. valuable first: It is hard to disagree with you, but sometimes there are dependencies on what is hard (and tempting to postpone). Another take of formulating sort of the same might be: Make sure not to postpone tasks that seem hard and will destroy value of other products you deliver, if they are not successful.

  3. Yes... which is true. And my point may be a bit too theoretical. But a good list of features should be 1) value oriented and 2) independent. Hence, delivering a feature provides value and won't cause damage to the existing product. However, in many cases there are tasks that simply must be done (for instance, of technical art) that doesn't provide too much value and are difficult to do. It makes sense to get control over these tasks.

  4. like your 10 brief tips. I will keep in my mind because i want to become a project manager. So these all brief tips are very important for me .

    project management institute

  5. I do hope people would see this because it would certainly help a lot when they are working on a project, especially for student who are working on thesis or dissertation project for their degree. I agree with number 6, it actually easy to plan things but it is hard to start the project. So, it would be a good idea to have actions on your plans.