Project LeadershipProject Management

10 Things New Project Managers Should Know

One of the big ideas behind mentoring, knowledge management, and lessons learned (among other similar principles) is that we want to save others from making the same mistakes that we already have made. But often, people end up making those same mistakes anyway. So in a post at A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, rather than give warnings, Elizabeth Harrin just shares 10 good-to-knows about project management:

  1. Manage scope.
  2. Learn the vocabulary.
  3. Review success continually.
  4. Create a common goal.
  5. Use short tasks.
  6. Learn what is a “showstopper.”
  7. Manage risk.
  8. Learn to cope when things go wrong.
  9. Understand the project benefits.
  10. Accept that outsiders often never understand what project managers “do.”

The Project Management Starter Pack

Scope is not set once and locked in place forever. Scope is more like an accordion played verrry gently, and you are responsible for making sure its melody stays roughly consistent. That is how you manage scope. The same vigilance should be paid to managing risks. You need to identify them, record them in a risk register, develop strategies for dealing with them should they occur, and be active about monitoring them throughout the life of the project. And if something goes wrong in spite of your best efforts, this is the most important time of all to stay calm. Panicking does nothing; spend your energy looking for experts who can dig you out of the situation instead.

Every project needs to have an understood goal at its heart. Harrin recommends the use of a mindmap to illustrate such goals. Reaching goals in turn derives benefits that the project should realize. All project tasks should be directed toward reaping those benefits. Additionally, project tasks should be broken down into small sizes, to make them more manageable and to develop a more accurate idea of how much work is involved. To practice increased safety in the project, you may want to review success on an ongoing basis during the project, perhaps through recurring lessons learned sessions/retrospectives.

Another thing to keep in mind about project management is its esoteric nature. The vocabulary that you absorb from PMBOK and other places may be a bunch of gibberish to people outside of project management in the business, but it is still your job to get an accurate message across to them. Similarly, there are those who will just never wrap their heads around what it is you do as a project manager, and this ignorance can work to your detriment if they do not understand your importance to the project.

Lastly, about learning what a “showstopper” looks like, Harrin says this:

Showstoppers are things that will prevent your project from achieving its objectives. What is going to kill your project? Some problems aren’t that big a deal. But some are huge and will cause significant issues.

Knowing which is which is partly down to your professional judgement, and if you are new to projects you might doubt your own ability to make that call. If you hit a problem and you don’t know how serious it really is, talk to your project sponsor or a trusted colleague. Chances are, if you are worried, then they will be too.

You can view the original article here:


John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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