8 top project management principles and the tools to helpmaster them

According to the Project Management Institute, A project can be defined as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. Projects are different from other ongoing operations in projects have a definite beginning and an end - they have a limited duration. As the success of projects become more important to organizations of all sizes and kinds it is not surprising that software solutions to help manage projects have proliferated.

 

From the venerable Microsoft Project and Basecamp to relative newcomers like Workfront and Trello, these tools can be very helpful and efficient, but of course, the fundamental mistakes of project management can still crop up. Sometimes these tools can create their own complications that can lead to unanticipated problems.

 

These are the top eight project management principles and how software solutions can help manage them, as well as ways to ensure they do not make things worse.

#1: Break projects down into their smallest manageable components.

This is where software tools can really shine. Managers can create project components based on the required work input, arrange them in appropriate workflows and allow team members to review, update, and even re-arrange them based on actual progress.

Deep thought should be put into who has what permissions for each component, to assure reportability and accuracy of updated information

#2: Kick-off meeting with the whole team setting clear objectives and benchmarks.

A kickoff meeting is essential to define and set expectations and helps to make the team more cohesive and organized, creating a sense of ownership and understanding of the ultimate goals for the project.

Management software can be useful in creating a Project Charter that includes start dates, budgets, objectives and success criteria and distributing this document to key stakeholders at the kick-off meeting.

#3: Set priorities

One of the most important jobs of the project manager is to set priorities, communicate to team members what tasks should take priority, and keep track as the inevitable shifting of priorities happen.

Most project management tools allow for labeling project components or tasks so all team members can see at a glance what has become “Hot”, either because it is behind schedule or priorities have changed.

#4: Project management is people management

One of the pitfalls of software tools is that project managers can get bogged down focusing on the scope, quality, cost and timeline reports and forget about the people who are actually doing the work.

It is crucial to build into your management process some kind of feedback function to hear from the frontline workers and respond to all concerns immediately and meaningfully.

#5: Communication

Thanks to the world of online connectivity and social sharing, the tools for communication are abundant. As anyone with an email in box knows, it is almost impossible to avoid information overload, making it crucial to separate signal from noise.

The project management tools you choose should simplify and control the channels of communication so that teams and customers don’t feel isolated or in the dark. Simple project guidelines like deliverable reviews, regular status check-ins, and one-on-one team communication will help keep everyone motivated and involved on a daily basis.

#6: Control project creep

Unfortunately, scope creep or feature creep have always been pervasive in project management and difficult to manage because, as the name suggests, it creeps up on you.

Software can’t provide a magic solution for this parenial problem. Only clearly defined goals and success factors can help ensure that change requests and added features that aren’t aligned to objectives don’t get past the review process.

#7: Choose the right project management tools and train people to use them

As mentioned before, there are almost as many different types of project management tools as there are different kinds of projects, so spend some time researching and trying out each product and matching it to the unique needs of your team.

But don’t neglect to factor in the need for training, from classes and tutorials to online documentation and reliable tech support. Every project contains people of diverse skills, abilities and technical experience, so the tools you choose must be made usable and comfortable for all stakeholders.

#8: Document progress, analyze results, change course as needed

The key benefit of modern software tools is to facilitate transparent and truthful reporting, providing stakeholders with the information needed for good, timely decision making. Any important changes should be updated daily and progress should be reviewed by the entire team weekly.

This way, if something goes wrong, the project can change course and regain focus by adjusting the budget, resources or delivery expectations.

These are just some of the of the management principles I've observed over the years, if I've missed any principles or tools that you prefer I'd love to hear about them in the comment section below.

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