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20 Tips for Project Management Success (and 5 Tips for Project Disaster!)

smilingGet work done right or on time. It should not be the case that you have to choose one or the other, but sometimes extenuating circumstances get in the way. Maybe your boss is an ogre, or maybe someone accidentally blew the budget by deciding to hire Frankie Valli to host the office Christmas party. Whatever the reason, things do not always go according to plan. Here to help, Sid Kemp offers up an excerpt from his book, the Ultimate Guide to Project Management, in which he discusses oodles of tips on how to achieve project management success, as well as five silly tips on how to leave your projects dead in the water. Kemp breaks the success tips down into five groups, one for project planning, one for applying knowledge areas, one for using stages and gates, one for actually doing, and one for following through afterward.

At the planning stage, using cost benefit analysis and return on investment (ROI) to select the right projects is the first step to avoided future headaches. Define scope and do your best to telegraph the whole project in advance, and put together a team with the right expertise to execute the project goals. Root all work done in the various knowledge areas Kemp outlines, which are scope, time and cost, quality, risk, human resources, procurement, communications, and integration. He goes into particular depth about what quality really means:

Focus on quality at all three levels to ensure value. At the technical level, trace requirements and design checking and testing throughout the project to reduce errors. Then design a test bed, and implement the tests. At the project level, work to prevent error, then find and eliminate the errors that slipped through. Do as much testing as you can as early as you can. Allow time for rework and retesting to ensure you’ve eliminated errors without letting new ones creep in. At the business level, include customers in testing, and remember that the goals are customer delight and added value.

Things then shift toward an overview of stages and gates, suggesting the use of a lifecycle and making you think of every gate as an evaluation with the power to cancel a project if the verdict reached is grim enough. When the time comes to actually do things, constantly be listening to feedback from your team and be wary of recurring problems that may be indicative of greater problems. In the follow through afterward, aim to exceed customer expectation to really leave a mark on the project, and compare actual ROI to estimated ROI to be honest about how much was really achieved.

Kemp concludes with five tongue-in-cheek tips on how to rain down fire and brimstone on your project, which I will do my best to paraphrase. Forget about scope and spend spend SPEND your problems into oblivion! Do not ever check your work. Just get the stupid thing done and out the door. Ignore the customer, because you have all the answers and the customer has a bad haircut anyway. The only encouragement your team needs is a sharp whip and a shaking fist. And finally, avoid big challenges. The hardest thing you plan on doing today is deciding between cake and pie at the diner down the street.

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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