I was recently asked for my advice about projects for someone who wants to âget intoâ project management. I told them in all honesty, that Iâd only be able to give them advice from my limited experience. Although Iâve been âdoingâ project management for over 20 years, Iâm one in a million/millions doing this. So after I shared my advice, I also encouraged my ânew to project managementâ friend to google âthings I wish I knew before I became a Project Managerâ. I hope he did. Iâm sure it would add to this list.
Here are the things I shared. Do you agree? What would you have shared?
First off, there are really only two guarantees about projects: Every project is different and Change will happen. Having said, I still have 15 pieces of advice that are pertinent to every project, regardless of size, shape, length or complexity.
- Agree the details and priorities with the Sponsor / Project Board at the beginning (not the end!)
Itâs too late at the end of the project to find out that the Sponsor / Project Board had âother ideasâ (either mentioned or not) about what the project was set to deliver. Before undertaking a project, sit with the Sponsor (physically or metaphorically â over the phone, via documentation, rounds of email or through entries into a project management system) and come to agreements about the basics for the project (who, what, why, when, how and how much) being sure to agree on time, cost and quality expectations. Most importantly agreeing which is the priority!
- Decide how to document (to whatever formal level required) and document to that level
Some small projects neednât have much documentation. A lot of information can be captured in emails and meeting minutes. But just because a formal document isnât required, understand how will this information be captured and stored. For large, complex projects, documentation is normally required. Decide on the templates, the level of detail required and the recipients / distribution lists of the information.
Once a level has been established and agreed, throughout the project abide by these documentation rules. When time pressures abound itâs easy to forget to document things. Thereâs always the intention, but it keeps getting pushed down the to do list until it eventually falls off. Be diligent. Keep records. And keep them according to the level youâve determined to be correct for your project.