Below is a collection of project management insights I have gained from my time with Carrot.
Project Management Is Hard
A lot of work goes into completing a successful project. You have to negotiate priorities, align resources, and get buy-in from team members.
Estimating Project Completion Dates Is Tricky
No matter hard you try, something will come up and force your deadlines to fall apart. This is especially true the longer the project lasts. Pro-tip: keep projects as under 1 month to complete.
Not Everyone Will Care
Just because someone is on the project team doesn’t necessarily mean they care about the overall outcome or deadline. Pro-tip: don’t worry too much about it, find what motivates them or help them on a project (theory of reciprocity).
There Is No Silver Bullet For Software
Every piece of software I have used has shortcomings. Accept it and move on.
Track Your Completion Status
The project owner should update the company weekly with progress and issues on the project. Someone in the company needs to document how successful you are each week on your projects.
Getting Project Status Updates Can Be Difficult
People get busy it can be tough to know exactly where you stand with a project.
Strive to complete 80% of your projects on time.
Don’t Be Afraid To Kill A Project
Priorities change, unexpected things happen, momentum slows. Don’t stress out if you end up halting a project or moving it from in-progress to planning. Pro-tip: if it happens more than 20% of the time, it’s a process issue.
Clarity Before You Start
Make sure everyone involved in the project is crystal clear on the outcome. Go so far as to document the intended result and metrics and have everyone sign it.
3-4 MAX At A Time
It becomes exceptionally hard to manage more than 3-4 projects at once.
Phases Are Your Friend
If a project goal is really ambitious, it is best to break the project down into multiple projects that depend on each other. This makes timing, resources, and priorities easier to allocate.
It Can Get Technical
I didn’t go to school for operations but I have learned that some people get really involved in project management and estimating time (if you are interested in more in-depth PM metrics here is a good blog post to start with).
Don’t Overcomplicate It
If you are a part of a small team then keep it simple. There is no need to overcomplicate your project process or reporting. But if you are running a multi-million dollar business with a multi-millionaire dollar project on the line…you should make sure it’s complicated enough to get the result.
Assign An Owner
Every project needs someone who is accountable for the final result. This doesn’t need to be a project manager. You can train someone to be accountable and communicate project updates.
Coach Project Owners To Success
If a project falls behind, ask questions and document the problem with the project owner. From here, find a way to coach the project owner on how to improve their management or leadership abilities for their next project. Invest in them and your project success will improve.
Accountability Above All
Not sure who to appoint to be a project manager? Whoever displays the most accountability should be your first choice. I find the most successful projects are lead by the most accountable people in the company. When the project falls off the track you want some who cares, speaks up and implements a solution.
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