Industry Update: Project Management Practices
Project Management is on a global growing spurt and will continue through 2020. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) 2013 Talent Gap Report, as the profession grows by over $6.6 trillion, the global economy is seeing 15.7 million new project management roles created in seven project-intensive industries.[i]
Also included in the 2013 Talent Gap Report, 10 countries with project-intensive industries have a projected increase of over 13.4 million project management roles by 2020, for a total of over 41.5 million new roles.
The need for project managers is growing globally which means those pursuing PM roles will need the sharpest skills and knowledge of global standards. Applying these principles and practices will elevate your success rate and lower your risks of failure.
Project Management Principles
Projects can be complex so the principles that lay your foundation need to be simple truths, express a basic concept, and be universally applicable. Before you add any other tools or software to your new project it would be wise to have basic foundations in place. These three principles are basic; yet when applied have amazing results:
- Bring clarity to the project
- Have a positive attitude
- Communication is the key
Bring Clarity to the Project
Bringing clarity to the project is one of the most important tasks of the project manager. Your team must be able to see what you are saying. Remembering these two principles can get you off to the right start.
Focus includes how well you understand the project. Using the 5 W’s and 1 h (why, what, who, when, where, and how) will help you understand your project. These are some questions that you might want to ponder:
- Why are we doing this project?
- What do we do?
- Who will benefit when the project is completed?
- When will it be completed?
- Where will it be best delivered?
- How will we complete the project?
By answering these basic questions you will begin the clarification process of understanding your project. With understanding comes a purpose that you will be able to see and focus your attention.
Direction is about the project team ending up at the same destination. Now that you have a clear focus you can organize and steer your journey towards a successful project.
Have a Positive Attitude
Having a positive attitude can produce advantageous rewards – especially in these two areas:
- Relationships with others
- Challenges in your project
Effective project managers have effective team members. People skills are of utmost importance if you are planning on being successful. A positive attitude with your team will encourage them and keep them on track. There will always be challenges – embrace them as they come; working through them with a positive attitude opens the doors and windows with solutions.
Communication is the Key
There are many activities as a project manager that will require the importance of communication skills – two of these activities are:
- Coordinating project activities
- Keeping stakeholders informed
As the project manager you are the key informer in the planning stage and will need to identify the objectives that will need to be completed. Also, in the execution stage, you will have to coordinate each task needed with the person who will be responsible for completion.
Stakeholders will need to be informed of the project status and the project manager is the one to communicate this information. Whether you have good news or bad news, if you report openly and often, your project stakeholders will put their trust in you.
Project Management Practices
The word practice according to Webster’s means customary use, method or art of doing anything… So this would mean that a PM practice is: the method in which you manage your projects.
Effective project managers understand that all projects are handled with the same principles but not the same practices. These PM practices have proven to be successful, but are not an exhaustive list; nor are they necessarily in the order to be executed.
- Planning – Write a Plan using the 5 W’s & 1 H. Ask the questions, write down the answers. Think & analyze; it could solve some problems on paper before they show up in life. A written plan entails more than just a list; it is a map that you can turn to for direction if the way becomes confusing. It will have markers to help you get back on track. The plan could also include: budget, staff, and other resources.
- Scheduling – Review the work plan on a regular basis. For small projects; check weekly. For large projects; check bi-weekly. And then after each update determine whether the project will be completed within the original timeframe or if changes will need to be added.
- Vendor Management – The relationship you have with your vendors can make or break a project baseline. After choosing your vendors their performance will have to be monitored constantly in the beginning to make sure they are meeting your business requirements. Keep in active communication and share your needs as a PM.
- Budgeting – Monitor your budget and after every update check on how much the project has consumed and if the amounts are on target with your original budget. If you have exceeded your projected amount – discuss with your team for ideas to raise the money needed or raise a risk that you have exceeded the allocated amount.
- Risk assessment – Very early in your planning stage potential risks should have been identified and evaluated. It is in your best interest to deal with these potential risks before they cost or destroy your project. Remember to keep human error in mind, be transparent, and practice communication with the team and all involved.
- Change management – Change management is a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved. Change management is a very broad field and its methods will vary greatly from project to project. When faced with this challenge always ask the question, what does change management mean in this situation?
- Project control – This is the data gathering, management, and analytical process used to predict, understand and constructively influence the time and cost outcomes of a project through the communication of information in formats that assist effective management and decision making. Project controls encompass the people, processes and tools used to plan, manage and mitigate cost and schedule issues and any risk events that may impact a project.
Wiegers, K. (2012, February 28). Project Management best Practices: Planning the Project. Retrieved from http://www.projecttimes.com/articles/project-management-best-practices-planning-the-project/
Mind Tools. Change Management. Retrieved from www.mindtools.com/pages/articles/newPPM_87.htm
Project Controls Online.com. Project Control. Retrieved from