A Look at Improving Project Management Success

As a project manager, your own success hinges on how your projects turn out. While everyone will have a few failed projects under their belt, a string of failures indicates very real problems. Thankfully, there are numerous ways that you can improve your project management success. Below, you’ll find some of the better ways that you can do this, no matter what industry or niche you might be working in.
Don’t Leap In
For many project managers, the temptation to skip project planning and jump right into implementation is considerable. Don’t do this. Project planning is vital. Without adequate planning, there’s no way to ensure that you have the resources necessary to complete the project, or even a clear idea of what the project’s ultimate goals are. Never skip planning, and always ensure that you have a full project overview, know the objectives, know the project’ scope, know your risks and understand how you will approach the project.
Manage and Monitor
As the project manager, you will be responsible for quite a few elements in concluding the project successfully. However, it’s vital that you manage and monitor throughout the project’s lifecycle. Don’t get tied up in other elements of the process – know where you are in the project, what your team members are doing and where you’re heading. By constantly managing and monitoring, you’ll find that you can successfully forecast and mitigate risks, avoid resource shortages and bypass budget problems.
Know What Warning Signs to Look For
Every project is different, but there are some common warning signs that indicate problems no matter what type of project you’ve got in the works. For instance, if you find that tasks you thought were already completed were in fact not, you know there’s trouble brewing. Another warning sign is scheduling variances – you need to stick to your schedule as close as possible. A decline in team morale and productivity is also a sign of impending trouble.
Scope Changes Are Problems
The scope of your project is going to change – it’s natural. However, when scope changes creep in, it’s vital that you ensure things are done correctly. Unauthorized scope changes can spell disaster to your project, particularly if they coincide with unauthorized budget changes (this is very common). Scope changes need to be approved by sponsors or the appropriate stakeholders. Unapproved changes can lead directly to project failure – make sure any changes are approved, documented and clearly understood.
Resolving Issues
It can be tempting to put less important issues on the backburner so you can focus on the big things. However, that’s the wrong thing to do. Make sure that you take care of all issues as soon as possible – even minor problems can grow into huge issues if left unresolved for long periods.
With the information above, you should find that improving your project management success is easier than you might have thought. Monitor, manage, resolve issues, get scope changes approved and plan effectively, and you’ll be more successful.

Right and Wrong Words To Boost Productivity

Simple words and phrases can work wonders when it comes to productivity. Say the wrong thing and it drops. Utter the right words and it increases.

Here’s a look at the right and wrong ways to boost productivity, according to the Wrike.com blog. On the positive side, according to one blog post, here are ways to jump start productivity. (Text in bullets is directly from the website.)

“Here are all the documents you will need to get the job done.” When you’re delegating a task, the most harmful action you can take is to tell them to get it done without providing access to the necessary resources.”

“You can find examples of previous, similar work here.” A great way to show someone the ropes is to give them examples of previous work. They’ll know what you expect as their finished contribution.

“Let’s talk about the date you think you can finish this work.” Discussing due dates instead of demanding due dates is a great way to make sure things get done. Give your assignee the space to let you know about other commitments, and then you can discuss whether or not your preferred due date is feasible.

“Judy and John have experience with this kind of task. Feel free to ask them for help.” When you delegate a task to your team member, let them know who has experience with that kind of work so they know where to direct their questions. Giving them this information upfront prevents your team member from running around trying to find answers to questions.

“You’ve been working hard, take a break!” Taking breaks is key to continued productivity. Let your team members know that you don’t mind if they take a break — as long as it’s well-deserved.

That last point is as important as any you can make to increase productivity. And it’s important that your actions back up your words. People who work for you will take breaks if you take breaks. Otherwise, they’re going to follow the leader.

And here are things you can say that will hurt you when delegating a task, according to another blog post at Wrike.com. Again, text in bullets is straight from the post.

“I know you haven’t finished that section yet, but this needs to be done right now!” Good delegation is about setting priorities. While emergencies do happen, having “emergencies” every couple of days won’t help productivity. It will hinder productivity.

“I know you’ve never done anything like this before, but I’m sure you can handle it.” There’s nothing to raise a team member’s stress level like hearing this phrase. Everyone wants the chance to improve their skills, but is it really fair to put someone in that position without adequate preparation or training?

“Just come up with something, and we’ll see if it fits.” The issue with this phrase is lack of clarity, and we all know how that ends up. If you don’t have an idea about the result you want, then how can the assignee deliver it?

“That’s not the way I would have done it.” A “my way or the highway” approach leads you directly to micromanagement and discourages others from taking responsibility for tasks and achievements – and that’s the whole point of delegation. OK, so you would have taken another route, but as long as the solution works, does it matter if your colleague did things differently?

“You should have shown me it before the deadline…” Your goals might be crystal clear, but the only way to know if you’re on track to meet them is to set up milestones and checkpoints with the assignee, so you are not disappointed on the project delivery date. Do this, and you can get rid of issues before they become major problems.

When Should I Replace a Team Member?

Your project team is the key to concluding any project successfully. The right team members will enhance communication, ensure that each task is completed sequentially, and that the necessary value is delivered at the end of the project. However, things aren’t always so streamlined and smooth. There can be problems within a project team, and knowing when (and how) to replace team members is very important.
Time and Performance
There are many different areas in which team members can become problems, but two of the more important are time and performance. For instance, if you have a high-performing team member, but one who is constantly late for work, takes over-long breaks or constantly leaves early, their value to your team is questionable at best. In fact, they may actually be costing you more than you think, while simultaneously reducing the value of your project.
Another key area is performance. Your team member might have the skills to get their job done (at least on the surface), but if they’re unable or unwilling to bring them to bear at all times, it might be best to part ways with them completely. After all, if they can’t use their skills to benefit the project, they don’t really offer much in the way of value.
Duration Issues
While replacing the person draining your project of success is important, it’s not always possible. For instance, if your project is very short term, replacing them might be impossible within the time remaining to you. In this type of situation, you’ll have to limp along with the team you currently have. The best option here is to coach the team member in question and try to improve the situation as much as possible while simultaneously ensuring that resentment and ill feelings don’t build up within the rest of the team.
Pitfalls in Replacing Team Members
While replacing a team member can be unavoidable in some situations, there are pitfalls that you’ll encounter. You’ll have to get past these in order to get your project back on track. One of the most important issues is finding a qualified replacement for the person you’re letting go. Depending on the skillset of the departing team member, this can range from relatively easy to almost impossible.
Yet another issue will be the time required to bring the new team member up to speed on the project (the learning curve). In most instances, this will take at least several days. However, if your project or the duties the new team member is taking on are extremely complex, you might see a significantly greater amount of time spent just in ensuring that he or she is completely on board.
Replacing a team member should always be your last resort. It can be difficult or impossible in some instances. Perhaps the ideal solution is to try to improve the work of the current member, though in some instances that’s not possible either. Think long and hard before you opt for replacement, though, as it can be very costly.