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General Project Management Tips

There is a lot to be said for learning things the hard way in the business world. Suffering for a poor choice in one instance can mean having the competitive insight and experience to make exponentially better decisions the next. However, as valuable as it is to learn from one’s mistakes, it may be much easier and much more efficient for your organization to learn from the skills of others instead. This is the mindset of Hunter Vegas, article author and expert from ISA Interchange. Vegas and colleague Greg McMillan have coauthored a book entitled 101 Tips for a Successful Automation Career. This particular article focuses on the general project management tips details in “Tip # 32” of the book. One project management tip Vegas believes to be especially important is to choose what you really want to strive for: Good, fast, cheap – pick any two. This is an age old project management maxim, and the simple fact is that you cannot have it all. If the project must be completed quickly, it will either suffer in quality or cost more. If project expense is paramount, prepare to sacrifice quality or speed of execution. And finally, if the project must be of the highest quality, then it will either cost much more or take longer to install. Manage the client’s expectations. If the client is making unreasonable requests and demanding a fast track, high quality, low cost project then consider either declining the project entirely or informing them at the onset of the impossibility of satisfying their requests. There are many points to take into consideration when deciding which combination of good, fast, and cheap you wish to use. Vegas notes that “time nearly always trumps costs.” This means that spending more to get something done more quickly is almost always more desirable for your company than spending less and taking up more time. Furthermore, on the topic of money, it is important to never low-ball an estimate. It is easier, as Vegas notes, to show that you completed something under budget than it is to require more funds than initially requested. Vegas notes that it is important to remember that there is rarely only one way to meet a goal. Focusing on one strategy is not unwise, but one must be flexible enough to reevaluate an approach when the situation calls for it. When dealing with challenges and goals, it is crucial to remember the importance of communication. According to Vegas, if a team understands the goals and are able to stay on the same page, it will be much easier for everyone to contribute equally and effectively. It is important, however, to keep in mind that large meetings do not equate to excellent communication. Smaller meetings make it easier to pass along information. Furthermore, everyone will feel that their individual voice is being heard. Sometimes, we are forced to learn things the hard way. This can be beneficial in the business world in the long run, but so can learning from the advice of others. Taking to heart what successful project managers have to say is certainly a more time and cost efficient method of learning, so follow Vegas’s advice and leave learning the hard way to someone else.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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