Monday, August 24, 2015

How to Think Like a PM

We all have projects in our life. If you are starting a new business, that is a project. Anything with a beginning, a middle and an end is a project. Usually, as one project ends, a new one pops up for us to work on. 

The reason why many people don’t succeed to a greater extent than they do, is they do not know how to think like a Project Manager (PM). Here are a few things you can begin doing right away (it is the way the best PMs on the planet think):

Focus on a Clean Start
There is an old saying that goes, “what begins true, ends true.” For our purposes, this means to kick-off the project with super clear goals. Get clear on what you are up to. Create a project plan and plan to adjust it as you go along. Get everyone together and make sure everyone is playing the same song.  For more information about starting true, see our previous post about Getting the Front End Right.

Focus on the outcome
PM’s have to know where the project is going. They need to know what “done” looks like. They must have a vision of the end in mind and then to use the vision to guide the project every step of the way.

Focus on next steps
Even if the project has a clean start and everyone knows what the end looks like, there is that little problem of all the stuff in the middle. This is actually where many projects get bogged down. A good PM is able to break every task into sub-tasks and each sub-task into even smaller sub-tasks. These tasks are the actual work units that, when completed, moves the project forward. PM’s get a real thrill out of checking things off as completed on the project plan.

Focus on resources
Resources are all the things needed to get the project completed. Typically this includes, people, money, equipment, supplies, etc. The best PM’s have a good idea about what resources are needed to complete the project. They estimate the resources required and then set out to get them.

Focus on the budget
Although money is a resource, it is treated as a budget once the PM has access to it. Many projects go way over budget because the PM either underestimated how much it would cost or they allowed the costs to get out of hand. Be the PM that runs a tight ship and stays within the allocated budget.

Focus on time
Time is the one resource that cannot be replaced. It is our most precious resource. A good PM thinks about time a lot. They look at the way the project is progressing against the calendar. They know at all times if they are ahead of schedule, on schedule or behind schedule. They adjust accordingly.

How honed are your PM skills? What can you start doing better right away to make sure your projects are more successful going forward?

With Intent!