Two Keys to Project Management

After many years as a project manager as well as teaching about project management, I’ve come to the realization that there are two keys to project management: getting the product out and the people.

While there are many, many other things that compete for a PM’s attention, these are two that, well done, will get the project well on its way to success.

As PMs we are taught and expected to develop numerous documents, status reports, hold meetings, make presentations, work with stakeholders, develop a schedule, estimate time, cost, quality, etc., etc. But when was the last time a customer paid for a status report with no product or service in sight? The customer always wants that product or service we’ve committed to deliver. So, my rule of thumb, do the bare minimum in terms of all those things PMs are supposed to do to deliver the product/service. If it helps, do it to the extent that it helps and no more. If it doesn’t but it’s required, meet the requirement but don’t embellish it. I’ve told that to my teams and told them that if anyone complains have them come talk to me. This provides my team with the space to follow my guidance.

Which gets me to item 2: it’s all about the people. As a project manager you are first and foremost a leader guiding a team. No people = no team = no project = no product/service. It’s our job as PMs to ensure that they know what we are trying to do, have the time and resources to get it done, have a plan to pursue it. Key above all is being able to be a good leader and listen to the team.

So, what are your thoughts? Are there other key things you think I should have on my list? Let me know.

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