Tips for New Project Managers

Here are some tips and lessons learned that I would share with anyone starting off a career in project management:

  • Spend time up front to identify your stakeholders.
  • Understand who the project champion (or sponsor) is. Typically he/she is not the project requester, but someone whose business will benefit from or be impacted by the project.
  • Use a Scope Document to ensure everyone has a clear definition of the project. Review the Scope Document with your stakeholders to ensure understanding and alignment.
  • Have your project champion sign off the Scope Document at the start of the project results.
  • Create a Communication Plan to manage stakeholder interactions.
  • Take time to do project planning – do not rush into execution.
  • Stay focused on dependencies and their impacts on milestones. Set milestones for your team to rally around.
  • Empathy and listening are key. Listen to your team and your stakeholders while managing the project.
  • Teams do not communicate well. It is the job of the project manager to ensure communication is working and everyone is kept informed.
  • Escalation is a powerful tool. Escalate issues and risks, in a timely manner and be sure to escalate the right things.
  • Remain vigilant of scope creep. Be prepared to conduct what Project Managers call “Scope Change Management”: Assess the request and communicate impacts of the change to the project sponsor. If the request or change is quite different or larger than the original project scope, recommend a new project be set up to manage fulfillment of the request.
  • Lastly, make sure everything on your project plan has an owner. Do not end meetings without action items and clearly defined owner.

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