Project Management

What Should a New Project Manager Focus On?

If this is your first time managing a project, you probably have a million questions streaming through your mind. First off, what the heck do I do?! Well, in a guest post for A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Dr. Mike Clayton offers some time-tested tips on what new project managers should focus on that will never steer them wrong.

The Big Picture Approach

First things first, you need to build a relationship with your client. Your client, or boss/sponsor/project director is the driving force behind the project for you. Without a relationship you will not be able to decipher what they want that is an essential priority. Secondly, you need to understand the project hierarchy: goals, objectives, strategy, plans, and actions. Your energy needs to be focused on these four things, in this particular order.

Next, grasp the concept of the triple constraints: time, cost, and quality. It is imperative to understand their relative importance. This will help you to make clear, defined choices. You need to also understand that project management is a people discipline. Your focus needs to be on people and it falls into three categories: the governance hierarchy, your project team, and stakeholders. The governance hierarchy includes the sponsor, the project board, and everyone else who has a definite responsibility for making sure the project performs well. Here are how the other two categories are described:

2. Your Project Team.

These are the people who will make your project happen, so they are vitally important. Remember that, as well as managing your project, you are responsible for managing the people on your project. This means giving leadership and support, guiding and developing them, and allocating work wisely.

3. Your Stakeholders

These are the people who will ultimately determine whether your project is a success… or not. So engage with them positively so you can learn from them, keep them informed and, when necessary, influence them gently.

Lastly, don’t forget that things happen. No project is perfect and has a flawless execution. Identify the risk and uncertainties and come up with solutions. Think of them daily to reduce the risk profile of your project. Additionally, take a specific time each week, at least half an hour with no interruptions, to allow yourself to clear your head and reveal aspects of your project that may be missing or need improvement.

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