I’ve met many people who seem to think that project management is about solving problems of someone else’s creation, like Tommy Lee Jones’s character. However, I’d say that if this is your situation, then you’re either a top trouble-shooter, or you haven’t managed the projects properly.
To avoid ending up like this, there are a number of things you have to do, regularly and effectively, starting with your first involvement in the project:
- Leading and building the team.
Co-ordinate the activities of a group of people, so that things happen
in the right way and at the right time. Perhaps even more importantly,
you need to co-ordinate their different goals. If they have a
common objective, they will deploy their own efforts more effectively.
Your aim is to build a team whose ability as a whole is much greater
than the sum of its parts.
Every task on the project, and the use of every resource
(including people), should be planned in advance. Otherwise, you will
either under-use your valuable resources, or you will have insufficient
resources and the project will slip. As well as managing time and
effort, you have to manage the quality of the work which is done, and
allow for things which could go wrong. You will have to regularly update
your estimates and plans as circumstances change.
Everyone must understand what is being done, by whom and why, and this
is down to communication skills. You need to open up as
many communication channels as possible, and make regular use of them.
- Monitoring and reporting progress.
Constantly monitor progress (against your plan), spot problems quickly,
and report on your progress to your users and managers. If you do this,
and particularly if you can suggest practical solutions to the
problems, then others will have greater confidence in you, and you
will get approval for your work more easily.
- Getting things done! Understand your overall objectives (and the intermediate deliverables), and progress towards them.