Project Management

5 Secrets to Become a Better Project Manager

Every profession has some insider tips and tricks to success. These little nuggets of wisdom are passed around to help others reach great heights, and project management is no different. In a post for the Digital Project Manager, Joanna Leigh Simon shares some secrets for successful project management:

  1. Set reasonable expectations, and over-deliver occasionally.
  2. Get to know the team.
  3. Put the right people in the right roles.
  4. Not everyone needs to know everything.
  5. Pad deadlines.

Secrets of PM Success

Despite how often it’s touted as the go-to for clients, you should avoid “under-promise and over-deliver.” In theory, it works as a way to impress the customers by placing their expectations at the bare minimum and then giving “extra” features. This becomes a problem when you aren’t able to over-deliver and your client wonders why your usual track record for additional content isn’t up to snuff. Avoid this by setting realistic and accurate expectations for your project from the beginning. By not under-promising, both parties have realistic expectations and standards for the direction the project will go in.

At no point should you lose sight of the fact that every part of your project is run by people. Getting to know these people can help you gauge a variety of things, such as who would be best for a position. This will be really helpful in the long run, as having the right person in the right position will maximize what can be done in that area. You need to be able to pick and choose which employee is best suited for a position, and this will vary from project to project.

Just as everyone is best suited for certain jobs, not everyone will find every piece of information essential to their position. Not everyone will need to know how much paper the brochure will need to have, but whoever is printing that brochure will. It’s important to keep all that information available to everyone at their request, but you don’t need to dump it on them all the time when it’s useless to their position.

Lastly, Simon gives one exception to complete honesty with your team, and that’s when it comes to padding out a deadline:

Essentially, when a project kicks off, if possible, I set the internal deadline to be a couple days or even weeks before the client’s deadline. Of course there will be many instances where you need as much time as possible, but I find that getting the team to focus on a deadline that is a bit earlier than the actual deadline means that people will be less likely to put things off until the last minute (because they literally don’t know when the last minute is) and there is a far less likely chance that you will run into overtime and end up blowing a deadline.

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