I ran into someone earlier this year who was evaluating consultants to help the chief executive of a mid-sized company manage the creation of a business plan that would ultimately go to prospective investors. I quickly pointed him toward a couple of other companies where I had done something similar. But no, he wanted to test my expertise so he started throwing around a bunch of “project management phrases,” for lack of a better term. No, I had to tell him. I don’t use Gantt Charts, Risk Impact/Probability Tables, Influence Maps, or Critical Path Analysis. Silly me. My approach to project management is far simpler, but it historically had been difficult to put into words.
Until I subscribed to and listened to the Manager Tools podcast on iTunes. I remember I was on a long drive to King of Prussia (PA) and nodding as I listened to the hosts describe (Mark) Hortsman’s Law of Project Management. It described my strategy perfectly, in simple terms that a Bulldog like me could embrace.
I’ve managed dozens of projects over the year and didn’t realize my philosophy was Who Does What By When. When everyone focuses on that simple principle, reporting is easier and everyone understands his or her role. Layer on the constant reminder that People Are the Engine of Project Success and you’re pretty much there. My job as a project manager is to see the threats to project completion when things are going well and make the appropriate adjustments, and to eliminate any barriers to the job getting done the rest of the time.
There are those who will say you should get certified through the Project Management Institute or some such organization — and maybe they’re right for huge, complex projects but I’m not so sure. I think you can be very successful if you make sure everyone does their job and leaves enough time for the next person to do theirs. Recognize people throughout, especially when they make it easier for someone else to succeed.
What strategies do you use to manage projects to completion, in time and on budget? Have I oversimplified the process?