• Pam Wiedenbeck

    As a management consultant, I have managed projects in multiple industries from Quick Service Restaurant to Financial Services. The main challenge is learning the vocabulary of the industry, company and project. I believe the essentials are all the same. Success depends on the size of your toolkit and your experience deploying it.
    Success also depends on your willingness to give guidance and let smart people do their jobs.
    However, at the very beginning, get all the stakeholders on board and define one or two things that will define overall project success. Define a decision and change management process that focuses on those things and drives toward them. For instance if “go live” date and the quality of certain parts of the install are those important things, many things will go into future releases in order to preserve that success.

    • begeland

      Pam – I agree. It’s all about setting initial expectations across the board with all stakeholders on both sides of the fence. You need to do that no matter what industry your project is in. Everyone needs to start on the same page. It sort of boils down to …that project manager needs to be an organized leader and a great communicator. A lot can be accomplished if he/she possesses those two qualities.

  • Great blog, Brad. I agree with all your points. All projects, no matter how large and complex or small and simple follow the same fundamentals. Its like playing basketball, once you get the core competencies down, like dribbling and passing, then you can go on to scoring. I cannot agree more empathically with you points on communication – it does not have to be formal, but it does have to be regularly. i have some clients who might be in a holding queue for a bit, but a quick check in lets them know they are still on the radar, and we are approaching the dates when we will engage in more activity, according to the plan.

    • begeland

      Yes Scott. On those stalled projects it’s easy to let them sit there. However, that leads to one of two things – and both are bad. Dis-engaged clients who are then hard to rein back in when it’s time to pick up steam again OR frustrated clients and we all know it’s easier to keep them happy than to make them happy again.

  • Dave Dunbar

    When do you do variance analysis (measuring project progress against the deliverables)? Reporting on it and communicating about it are both necessary and good. But where do you see the real PM work occurring?

    • begeland

      Measuring that progress – where you are against where you should be – needs to happen weekly when the PM does a detailed schedule update with the team and a presentation with the customer. At that point he needs to know – are we on schedule with where we need to be (if not, discuss resetting expectations or how we might adjust the schedule) and are we on budget. Those are key to know every week. Does that answer your question?

  • Alan Nekhom

    A good beginning, but all project have costs, and risks. Risk assessment and mitigation are a key component in any project. Without careful cost management and control, I suspect your stakeholders will be less than pleased. Clearly you have hit on the basics which, if omitted, will almost certainly lead to project failure, but project success relies on many additional steps. Variance analysis has already been discussed, but what about deliverable quality management and control? Schedule management? Scope management should certainly also be included in the mix. Who has ever had a project where scope creep was not an issue?

    Nonetheless, your point of communication, communication, communication is absolutely spot on.

    • begeland

      You’re right…I’m focusing on the basics here. Scope management has to happen – and be a top priority on any project if you hope to stay on the right timeline and within budget constraints. Quality is a concern, though it often receives less play and $$ allocation than it should. Communication – in my opinion – drives everything and has to be a core competency of the PM.

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