Project Management for non-Project Managers

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Small business owners, students, and working professionals, often play the role of a project manager, even when they are completely untrained.

For all you poor souls thrown into managing projects, I’ve got a few tips to help you stay on track.

Know your goal. 

All projects by definition have an end goal.  A project is something that has a start and end.  A project has an objective.  To be successful you must clearly understand your goal and everyone involved must share that understanding.  Many project are perceived to fail simply because someone was expecting something else.  Communicate your objective clearly, communicate it often.  It should be your mantra.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Hold regularly scheduled meetings, whether it’s a weekly status meeting or a daily call.  Hold the meeting even if there is nothing to report.  Share what you know, say everything is on target and open it up for feedback.  These meetings are not just for you to check status or share progress, they are an important part of the communication process.  Regular meetings provide a forum for discussions about small obstacles or other issues.

Ask questions, lots of questions.

When you ask if their deliverable is on-track, most folks will say yes, even if there is an issue.  So ask questions.  “Anything that might get in the way of delivering on time?”  “Can we do anything to make it easier?”  Ask about the process for completing the task.  I find that having the individual step me through their process will prompt questions and often uncovers potential road blocks and concerns.  Some folks don’t like to have you dig into their process, try talking about it in terms of reporting their progress.  Something that takes more than a day to complete, you might want to show percent complete or where you are in the process.

You can manage what you can’t see.

Remain calm.

When things go wrong, and they will, no one wants to deliver the bad news.  Stay positive.  Thank whoever shared the issue with you.  Now you know.  You want to hear bad news before someone else does.  You want the opportunity to address it.  And you want to report it to your management – they should not be telling you of issue.  That’s your job.

Stay calm and positive.  You got this.

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