Project ManagementRisk Management

7 Rules for Project Managers Devised from the Trenches

Being a project manager is not mindless busywork. In an article for Project Times, Davide Carboni instead goes so far as to call project managers pirates, ransacking the ships of opportunity by doing things unheard of before. And from his vast multitude of experiences, Carboni has developed seven rules of thumb for great project management–that nobody seems to talk about:

  1. A project must deal with no more than one serious challenge.
  2. A project is behind schedule the very moment it starts.
  3. A project manager is not a manager.
  4. The value of a project is inversely proportional to the length of reporting.
  5. A project with no major deviations is lying to itself.
  6. Complex and complicated do not mean the same thing.
  7. Strategy and execution on projects must align.

Firsthand Lessons

There can only be one serious challenge to a project at a time. Focusing on a bunch of individual challenges at once divides attention and creates a set of individual projects instead of an overall goal. This is especially true in riskier endeavors, as one failure could lead to the downfall of the entire project. The project should also contain a certain level of uncertainty, even at the very beginning. Treating the project like this creates a sense of urgency that there is not a second of time to waste; when people feel like they are already behind, they will work with greater focus to “catch up.”

Unfortunately, being a project manager doesn’t mean that you’re an actual, hanging-out-with-executives manager. Your position is to get stuff done by your team. In fact, don’t be surprised if someone even within your team makes more than you.

Documentation in a project always has irreplaceable value, but there are limits to the practicality of reporting. A mountain of paperwork could be hiding the fact that a project is going poorly. Conversely, a minimum of reporting might indicate the ease with which progress is coming. This will not always be true though.

Projects are also subject to change. It’s completely normal for the objectives to be modified and should even be expected. After all, you and your team are treading new ground and it’s not always predictable or “business as usual.”

Carboni explains that there is a significant difference between complexity and complication:

Complications are always there even in no challenging tasks. Complicated project deliverables divided into less complicated project deliverables results in easily managing the complication. The time associated with any small part is known, the risk predictable and the contingency plan effective. Complex things are different. They impact each other in a chain reaction, and no part can be managed separated from the whole. They are complex because they are interrelated, and often, but not always, they come from the human factors in a project. One failure causes nonlinear effects, and the risk cannot be calculated beforehand, and contingency plans are meaningless.

He also says that the same staff who craft the project should be the ones who execute it. The team contains those who are going to be putting in the work, and as such should be the ones who know the most on it. Alignment must exist in how projects are formed and executed.

You can view the original article here:

Austin J. Gruver

Austin is a Staff Writer for AITS. He has a background in professional writing from York College.

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