My name is Pia Köhler and I’ve been working at Odd Hill as a Project Manager since two years ago. Due to my current education project, a licensing course in Project Management, I have thought a lot about what my personal definition of a successful project might be. This post includes some tips and pointers on how to become a better project manager.
Several authors state that time and budget are the most important factors in a project. Keeping that in mind and taking the famous iron Triangle of Project management in consideration you can limit the potential influences to the following three: Schedule, scope and budget. Additionally, quality is usually named as the result of a smart combination of the above mentioned three.
In my opinion these four are the base factors without which a project cannot be worked with and delivered at all. Our customers and other stakeholders expect us to know what we are doing and to keep up with both timing and requirements, as well as budget and quality of our delivery.
If you ask me, I would always focus on a clear requirement specification, i.e. scope, which the project sponsor defines (eventually with help of the project manager and the team). A well defined scope gives you a safe fallback level which you can refer to in case of insecurities with most project related questions.
The scope is the first documentation you reference to in case of change requests. Approved changes will then be added to the scope. It gives all project stakeholders the security to know if their expectations will be met.
Anyway, this is still the baseline of project management. Simple as it is you have to know your tools for managing the above named four.
So, what can be the little “extra”?
Keeping up a constantly flowing communication with the project sponsor (in our case the customer) with help of weekly telephone meetings as well as regular physical meetings is always very recommended. Never underestimate the power of a personal meeting! You can see the other person’s body language and get a much better understanding of him.
Moreover, a constantly flowing information exchange internally is very important. Especially in web projects in which many different disciplines have to be aligned and need to know exactly what the other team members are currently working on. At Odd Hill we’re using Slack as our communication tool. It allows us to set up channels in which you can post current information that is project related as well as you can ask questions that other team members might be helpful with. Slack even has a search engine which makes it possible to search through previous decisions, etc.
In that channel you can even say: “thank you” and praise people for good work. Never underestimate the power of showing appreciation for someone’s work (and buy some cake or ice cream sometimes...).
An extra advice: Use your previous learnings and previous work, i.e. templates, and planning mistakes or assumptions you’ve made earlier. That can save you loads of time and pain. You don’t need to invent the electric light with every new project. Don’t hesitate and reuse your learnings.
And finally, the project manager who nobody remembers is a successful one because negative experiences always stay longer than good ones in people’s memories :)
This article was originally posted here.