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Sunday, June 17, 2007

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Seven Ways to Succeed as Project Manager

1. Use tools effectively
A variety of project management software tools can help in keeping you track of the numerous tasks, their sequence, the critical path, the dependency on other people and major milestones. Such tools are essential to plan, manage and track any kind of project today.
If you are new to project management or new to project management tools, you are incurring a double risk. Make sure you get familiar and know how to use the tools effectively, as they will aid you in your projects immensely.
They also show that you have devoted time to planning and you can use the project plan to present progress and communicate to management or team members.

2. Give feedback
Giving criticism effectively is not easy. There is a fine line between upsetting your team members and offering constructive feedback that will help the team members and the project. Likewise, the ability to receive criticism and take it positively is crucial for project managers.
It is easy to avoid criticism. Say nothing, do nothing and be nothing. If you are going to move mountains, you are going to have to accept a little flak. You can attend short workshops on how to give constructive feedback to help you in this area.

3. Be open to ideas
Nobody knows everything. Sometimes you are so busy making ends meet that you are not able to look at the big picture or think out of the box. Develop a culture where your team members continuously look for new ideas, new ways to make things better and discuss them with you.

4. Address issues
If two members of your project team can't stand each other and cooperation is vital to the success of the project, address the issue. Find a way in which they can work professionally or modify roles and assignments. Don't let the issue linger on, as it will come back to haunt you and cause greater stress later on. Issues seldom disappear on their own.
This also relates to your decision-making skills. Are you a quick decision-maker, or do you take forever to make up your mind?
Remember, no decision is good or bad at the time of making it. Only time can tell if it was a good decision or not. So why wait? Evaluate the best alternatives and proceed.
You can always adjust course along the way and after the project to its destination.

5. Manage your time
Organise your desk, your projects, your e-mail and your time well. There may be too many things vying for your attention at any given time.
Make sure you spend your time on the things that matter the most.
In the same vein, most of the manager's time is spent in meetings. Make sure you have a clear agenda for the meetings you organise, list what decisions need to be made and work with a fixed, short time period to end the meeting with a decision. Start and end the meeting on time.

6. Don't micro-manage
One of the dilemmas most newbie project managers find is that it takes ages to get some team members to understand what needs to be done. The project manager gets frustrated explaining the same thing again and again, and gets a completely different output than what he expected. So he end up doing it himself. The more he does things himself, the less time he has to manage and track the project.
This is a Catch-22 situation. If you do not invest time in building the knowledge and skills of your team, you cannot achieve major success. There is only a certain amount of work you can do yourself.
Make sure your team complements you, and can deliver quality work on its own. If required, send team-members for training and appoint mentors or buddies to help them learn the ropes quickly.

7. Communicate often
Track the progress of the project often, and communicate it to all stakeholders. Regular communication keeps everyone happy, and you are viewed as an effective and efficient project manager who stays on top of things.

[Source:
The Straits Times, CATS Recruit - Mon, June 11, 2007
by Vinai Prakash, www.intellisoft.com.sg]



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