Advice for Project Managers

The project manager's job is to direct, supervise and control the project from beginning to end. A project manager must define the project and with their members break the problem down into manageable tasks. At this stage it is important to analyse your project members, possibly by doing a group skills gap chart or getting your team to list the tasks they think best suit them. The project manager can then allocate the tasks to individuals and know that the work is being performed to the best it can be performed. This can be done after the work break down structure is complete.

Motivation is important to the project and will peek and drop at different stages throughout the project. It is therefore important that the project manger takes responsibility to motivate his/her team to make sure the project is completed on time. This should be seen as one of the project risks and as project manager you should address this in the planning process. The team should be made aware of the risk and discus how best to deal against the possible lack of motivation, amongst the other risks you have identified. This is known as mitigation. Other risks may include;

  • Disagreement
  • Poor communication
  • Bad weather
  • Misunderstandings
  • Personality conflicts
  • Poorly defined goals and objectives

Identifying risks is the first step into preventing a Project finishing late, exceeding budget or not meeting customer expectations.

  • This list contains brief guidance on what ‘to do’ as a project manager.
  •  Setup a weekly meeting and document it.
  • Prepare before every meeting.
  • Ensure appropriate documents are available.
  • Allocate sufficient time for project management activities.
  • Be aware of people dynamics.
  • Provide templates and checklists for every deliverable.
  • Project Management is about delegating tasks but also do your own share.
  • Write a risk management plan at the start of a project.
  • Keep all documentation.
  • Put version numbers on all progress reports and other monitoring tools.
  • Write a change policy and stick to it

Below is a list of important skills I identified as important for a project manager or a member of a project team to develop.

  • Planning
  • Leadership
  • Effective Communication (verbal and written)
  • Influencing
  • Negotiation
  • Conflict Management
  • Problem solving
  • Creative thinking
  • Time Management

Additional suggestions

Project managers and members alike might like to take note of a few other suggestions including seeking help from such sources as the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) found at www.ogc.gov.uk, here you can find help with all aspects of project management and a document library containing templates of the tools you will be developing and using throughout a project.

It is important to remember the basics when writing up your reports and I would recommend at the very least you include these headings Contents page, Executive Summary, Introduction, Findings, Conclusions, Recommendations, references, Bibliography and Appendices in any report you write. These headings and subheads should be numbered in a logical order.
When working in your project team’s computer software is available to aid in most aspects of the project. I would recommend your team uses Google Docs as a location to store and retrieve the group’s documents. Google Docs is a collaborative internet based program allowing members to have shared access to what might seem like a modern day file cabinet. The differences being that you can access it from anywhere just so long as you have access to the internet. I will add that Google docs can be slow and in the final days of the project I was pleased that group members had kept up to date versions of there own documents on hard drives and laptops, I say this because I tried to collate all of the documents straight from Google docs and gave up after the formatting of each document (especially tables) came out wrong and I had to wait over 2 minutes to find this out. Despite that I would still recommend Google Docs to a project team looking for open source collaborative software, but just keep in mind that when you need to retrieve a large number of files it is not quick.
As an alternative to Google Docs and depending on group size and funding the project team might like to invest in professional software, such as Microsoft’s SharePoint.

Created: 2014-09-17 13:17:21 Updated: 2014-10-06 13:13:00