Ten ways to succeed as a world class project manager – part two

In the first part of our article on what makes a great Project Manager we identified a series of soft skills that can help PM’s excel – here we go into them in a little more detail about what’s required…

1/ Be Laser focussed on Business Objectives

The most important thing when managing projects is knowing precisely what you’re setting out to achieve. An all too common symptom of projects that fail is where there is extensive scope creep, poor requirements definition or poor change management processes. It’s easy to say that the key to delivery is having crystal clear vision of what you are delivering but there’s no hiding from it. Clear requirements deliver not only a baseline to plan your project from but also give you success criteria to be measured against. An inability to drive your project to a set of clear objectives can result in a number of serious issues from cost overruns, through to extending schedules however perhaps the key concern is knowing when the project is finished which can lead to confusion and concern for both project team and customer.

2/ KISS Keep it simple stupid! – simplicity rules!

There can be a tendency, especially with projects with a significant technical content to become over complicated and bureaucratic in terms of decision making, planning and execution. People will always have trouble working within complex environments. When things aren’t simple expect confusion, error and stakeholder criticism.

The more that things are communicated and controlled in a simple way the higher the likelihood that personnel will be effective at carrying out their tasks. I always like to think of the famous elevator speech analogy – in that if you cant explain something in the time of an average elevator ride then your overcomplicating it. I often use this technique when considering communications (especially that of project benefits) but the general rules of simplification should be broadened out to as many project activities as possible.

3/ Master communication

Communications is perhaps THE effective soft skill that PM’s need to master. So many things are built on the back of an effective communications plan from managing resistance to change through to managing and communicating expectations to customers. Have no doubts about it poor communication can have a significant impact on the projects ability to succeed. The communications plan should be one of your key important documents and combined with a thorough stakeholder analysis should drive how you interact with your project community.

Click here for Ten ways to succeed as a world class project manager – part three

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