6 project management best practices

  1. Don’t make Gantt charts.  Projects change rapidly, and if they aren’t, the should be as they need to iterate in the face of new data.  Gantt charts inherently imply that a project is static because they are inherently static, and making a dynamic Gantt chart is incredibly difficult unless you have really good task monitoring in real time, in which case it wouldn’t be something you “make” it would be something you “design, build, and implement” and becomes a project in and of itself.  Track projects with task lists, understand and document dependencies and how they change, show milestones (simple) and meet *regularly* (see #4)
  2. Assign tasks to “Roles” instead of actual people.  This ensures resources (people) can flexibly take on different roles, and unoccupied or poorly fitted roles can be identified and corrected.
  3. RESPECT THE ROLE HIERARCHY.  I cannot stress that enough. Do not do end runs around people or short circuit the role reporting structure because you’re in a rush or are normally “the boss” on other projects. Ensure the hierarchy of roles (see #3) is available to everyone.  Ignore outside hierarchies of people, as project roles trump organizational titles!  This way, when acting in a certain role, a person can know who to directly report to, and who to escalate to if they are finding their direct report is unwilling or unable to help them.  Conversely, senior resources can understand that taking on certain roles might mean *as that role* they will report to someone who, perhaps, they normally oversee.
  4. Meet regularly and keep the meetings short and on topic.  Meetings should have a representative of every role, and only current tasks should be discussed.  Talk about achievements (recent ones) and quickly move on to what will be accomplished between now and the next reporting meeting.  Capture those commitments and use them in the next meeting.
  5. Authority and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.  Never associate authority with privilege and entitlement.  Authoritative roles are responsible for the most, and, when illustrating hierarchy, try putting the highest authority at the bottom of the list, and the least authoritative roles at the very top.  This will help illustrate that those with the most authority are literally shouldering the project and need to be prepared to take responsibility for it to the exact extent they have authority.
  6. You are there to support your reports, and those that report to them.  You need to consider their mistakes as your mistakes, and empower, train, and nourish them as you’d nourish your own body.

Agree? Disagree? Have personal stories to share?  Comments are top left…

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