SPECIAL NOTE: There are some things in this report that might ruffle a lot of feathers. That’s OK, I recently had something of a heart-to-heart with a bunch of my readers, and it really got me fired up and I decided that it was time that SOMEBODY spilled the beans…
“What They Aren’t Telling You… The Project Management Secrets That Will Solve Nearly Any Project Problem You Have”
I have 7 project management secrets I am going to share with you… but first I have to tell you exactly WHY I am have prepared this report for you. Because, to be frank, I am not usually in the business of giving away my secrets… in fact, my clients regularly pay me tens of thousands of dollars for my consulting.
However, I decided to make an exception this time. Keep reading to find out why…
I am going to be blunt here, because I am more than a little bit ticked off… There is a lot of mis-information out there about project management. I know, because I just asked a couple thousand people about it… and boy did I get an earful!
They told me what their problems are. What their questions are. And they told me exactly what was holding them back in their business. And the amazing thing is – even though you have probably been told otherwise, the solution is just not very complicated.
Which is GOOD – I like to keep things simple and to the point. I like to find a formula that works, and I like to apply that formula over and over. I figure if I find something that’s working, I just need to find a way to use that formula more often.
But That’s Not What You’ve Been Taught…
This is the part that makes me mad… when I surveyed those thousands of people about their project management process and tools; I kept hearing a few common refrain:
“My project management skills will never be as good as Guru X or Guru Y”
Of course, they didn’t really say “Guru X” or “Guru Y”. They gave me an actual name – but I went ahead and changed the ®name to protect the guilty.
That’s what really makes me mad. There are people running around that are trying to make all of this look a lot harder than it is. There are various reasons for this, but the bottom line is that they all have a vested interest in making project management look difficult.
“About Those Mystic-Gurus…”
If you have studied project management at all, you probably know what I mean when I say “Mystic-Guru.” These are the folks who do their best to create this impression that you need to have some “black-magic” skills to deliver successful projects.
They would have you believe that they are like some modern-day alchemists that
turn lead into gold. But instead they are using ink on paper, or pixels on a computer screen. Well, here’s the thing – they are sort of half-right.
Because once you learn how to use good project management process, then you literally can sit down, map out your route and, and use those steps walk you through to success.
You can literally turn words into success.
But here is the LIE…
You don’t have to be a super-human to get great results and continually deliver successful projects. You don’t need to be a “Mystic-Guru.” You don’t have to go on a trek to some distant mountain top and worship some arcane project management gods.
This isn’t some crazy magic trick.
I know it may SOUND like magic that you could sit down apply a few process and use a few management tools and then hit each and every millstone without any effort… but there isn’t any magic involved.
And yes, it sounds like magic when you can keep EVERYTHING in your business EXACTLY the same, but apply new process or management tool and watch delivery improve.
Sure – it sounds like magic… and those Mystic-Gurus would love you to believe that it’s magic (and, of course, they are the only ones that know the magic spell)… but the reality is that project management is just a skill – you just need to learn how to do it, and then apply it correctly.
If I Can Do It…
I make a not-so-small fortune from project management… both creating process and supporting documents for my own business as well as for clients.
HOWEVER, it hasn’t always been this way for me. And that’s why I know this is a skill that YOU CAN MASTER.
I know this… because until about 20 years ago I had never heard of project management or project documents. I first heard about it when I attended a seminar and Steve Woods spoke about “Essential Project Management. It was like a huge light bulb went off in my head… I was instantly hooked. And I set myself to the task of learning everything I could about project managements and the process needed to ensure continuous success.
Now I never considered myself a writer before. I mean, we all write stuff in school, but I sure wasn’t some Ernest Hemingway.
But I have always been a bit obsessive when I go about learning things… and this was right up my alley – I poured myself into learning project management process and writing great support tool &documents, and I got good at it – very good.
I don’t tell you that to brag… the reason I tell you this is because I am about to break all the rules with this report – and I just want you to understand that I know what I am talking about…
OK, First The Good News…
OK, first things first – there is a LOT of money in being a good project manager.
I am talking about an INSANE amount of money. More money than you can possibly imagine.
A good project manager has the power to completely transform a business. If a business is just starting out, it can put that business on the map.
If a business is slowly dying on the vine, good project manager can turn that business around.
If you are having trouble getting results – guess what, good project management is your answer.
Are third party suppliers giving you problems? Well, you know the answer – you are just one step away from turning things around and shaking the dust of your feet.
It goes on and on. In fact, I like to say that the answer to every business problem is GOOD PROJECT MANAGEMENT.
So when you start to think about putting a few extra percent (or more) onto the bottom line of just about any business in the WORLD… well you can start to understand when I tell you that we are talking about an INSANE amount of money.
If you have that power – the power to create process and documents that deliver, well you can start to understand just how powerful that position is.
Watch Out For The “Mystic-Gurus”… And The Posers!
With all that money riding on good project management process and tools, well is it any wonder that there is a huge mystique around it? And a HUGE amount of mis-information?
This is the deal – there is a saying that I learned from Steve Woods… he says:
“Beware The Wizard.”
By that, Steve means that you really have to watch out WHO you learn from. If you are going to spend your time and money to learn a business skill, you have to make sure that the person you are learning from is teaching from EXPERIENCE.
You also have to make sure that they actually have the skill to teach what they do.
There are folks who create great tools and process, but they don’t have a clue how to share that skill in a way that anyone can understand.
Even worse are those wizards who conspire to keep you begging for table scraps.
These are the Mystic-Gurus who would have you believe that project management is black-magic.
Believe me, the results might LOOK like magic – but project management is a skill, and it’s a skill that you can learn.
In fact, it’s…
The One Skill That You Absolutely Need…
Here is the thing – no matter where you are in your business, creating good processes and great documents is the one skill that you absolutely need.
No matter what your project management skills, I have been there too… Like I said above, twenty years ago I had never heard of project methodologies. So if you are a newbie to project management, I can vividly remember what it was like… all very confusing at first.
But then I remember the incredible feeling of power when I wrote my first piece of process… and it started to pull RESULTS!
It was like I had the keys to the kingdom at last. I had just learned a skill that enabled me to create success on demand… whether I was delivering my project or supporting someone else’s.
You can learn this skill just as easily as I did. And you can feel that same incredible power when you learn how to write words that get people to deliver.
Of course, if I had stayed there, at that newbie beginner level, then you wouldn’t be reading this report right now…
But I didn’t – I kept at it, working at writing and studying… and now I have more people approaching me to create process and documents than I could ever help. And they are paying me very large sums of money when I can fit them into my schedule.
Now you might think this is a remarkable story – to go from beginner to top of the heap in a relatively short period of time… but that’s really not what this report is about.
My goal here is to convince you that writing good project management processes and documents is something that YOU need, and it’s something that is well within your grasp.
And I am going to do that by sharing a bunch of killer Project Management SECRETS that are going to give you the jump start that you need…
Here We Go… The 7 Project Management Secrets
The seven essential components of successful project management. The things a project manager should never forget to do on a project.
This is the question what people keep asking me, “what are the fundamental aspects to successful project management?” Despite the vast amount of guru banter on the subject, I believe these to be the best practices at the heart of good project management.
1. Define the scope and objectives
For any project to be successful you need to understand what the project is supposed to achieve. Suppose your boss asks you to organise a campaign to get the employees to donate blood. Is the aim of this to get as much blood donated to the local blood bank? Or, is it to raise the profile of the company in the local community? Deciding what the real objective is will help you to determine how you go about planning and managing the project.
The project manager also needs to define the scope of the project. Is the organisation of transport to take staff to the blood bank within the scope of the project? Or, should staff make their own way there? Deciding which activities are within the scope or out of scope of the project has a big impact on the amount of work which needs to be performed during the project.
An understanding of who are the stakeholders is also crucial if you are going to enlist their support and understand what each person expects to be delivered from the project. Once you’ve defined the scope and objectives, you will need to get the stakeholders to review them and agree to them as well as agreeing who should be on the list of stakeholders.
2. Define the deliverables
To achieve the desired outcome from the project, you must define what things (or products) are to be delivered by the end of the project. If your project is an advertising
campaign for a new chocolate bar, then one of the deliverables might be the artwork for a newspaper advert. So, you need to decide what tangible things are to be delivered and document in enough detail what these things are. At the end of the day, someone will end up doing the work to produce the deliverable, so it needs to be clearly and unambiguously described.
Once you have defined the deliverables, you will need to have the key stakeholders review the work and get them to agree that this accurately and unambiguously reflects what they expect to be delivered from the project. Once they have agreed, you can begin to plan the project. Not defining the deliverables in enough detail or clarity is often a reason why projects go wrong.
3. Project planning
This is the time when you define how you will achieve the desired outcome of the project embodied within the objectives and definition of deliverables. Planning requires that the project manager decides which people, resources and budget are required to complete the project. You will need to decide if you will break up your project into manageable phases, decide which products will be delivered in each phase, and decide the composition of your project team. Since you have already defined the deliverables, you must decide what activities are required to produce each deliverable.
You can use techniques such as Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) to help you to achieve this. You will need to estimate the time and effort required to complete each activity, dependencies between related activities and decide on a realistic schedule to complete the activities. It’s always a good idea to involve the project team in estimating how long the activities will take since they will be the ones actually doing the work. Capture all of this into the project plan document. You also need to get the key stakeholders to review and agree to this plan.
When developing the project plan, a project manager is often under pressure to produce a plan which meets the (unrealistic) expectations of some of the stakeholders. It is important here that the project manager comes up with a realistic schedule – one which he/she thinks is realistic to achieve. You will be doing nobody a favour if you succumb to pressure and agree to deliver the project in a totally unrealistic schedule.
Even the best made project plans are useless unless they have been communicated effectively to the project team. Everyone on the team needs to know exactly what is expected of them, what their responsibilities are, and what they are accountable for. I once worked on a project where the project manager sat in his office surrounded by big colour print outs of his latest plans. The problem was, nobody on his team knew what the tasks and milestones were because he hadn’t shared the plan with them. Needless to say the project hit all kinds of problems with people going off and doing the activities which they deemed important rather than doing the activities assigned by the project manager.
5. Tracking and reporting project progress
Once your project is underway and you have an agreed plan, you will need to constantly monitor the actual progress of the project against the planned progress. To do this, you will need to get reports of progress from the project team members who are actually doing the work. You will need to record any variations between the actual and planned cost, schedule and scope. You will need to report any variations to your manager and key stakeholders and take corrective actions if the variations get too large.
There are lots of ways in which you can adjust the plan in order to get the project back on track (rearrange the order of tasks, assign tasks in parallel if the variation is small, or add more staff to the project or reduce the scope if the variation is very large).
All projects require the project manager to constantly juggle three things: cost, scope and schedule. If the project manager increases one of these, then one of the other elements will inevitably need to be changed as well. So, for a project which is running behind schedule to recover so it can be delivered to it’s original planned schedule, the budget might be increased by employing more staff (although this invariably never achieves the desired result of reducing the time left to complete the project), or the scope will need to be reduced. It is the juggling of these three elements – known as the project triangle – that typically causes a project manager to tear their hair out in frustration!
6. Change management
All projects change in some way. Often, a key stakeholder in the middle of a project will change their mind about what the project needs to deliver. On projects of longer duration, the business environment has often changed since the start of the project, so assumptions made at the beginning of the project may no longer be valid. This often results in the scope or deliverables of the project needing to be changed. If a project manager simply accepted all of these changes into the project, the project would inevitably be delivered late (and perhaps would never ever be completed) and would inevitably go over budget.
By managing changes, the project manager can make decisions about whether or not to incorporate the changes immediately or in the future, or to reject them. This increases the chances of project success because the project manager controls how the changes are incorporated, can allocate resources accordingly and can plan when and how the changes are made. Not managing changes effectively is often cited as a major reason why projects fail.
7. Risk management
Risks are any events which can adversely affect the successful outcome of the project. I’ve worked on projects where some of the risks have included: staff lacking the technical skills to perform the work properly, hardware not being delivered on time, the control room being at risk of flooding in a major thunderstorm and many others. Risks will vary from project to project but it is important to identify the main risks to a project as soon as possible and to plan the actions necessary to avoid the risk, or, if the risk cannot be avoided, to at least mitigate the risk in order to lessen its impact if it does occur. This is what is known as risk management.
Do you manage all risks? No, because there could be too many to manage, and not all risks have the same impact. So a simple way is to identify as many risks as you can, work out how likely each risk is to occur on a scale of 1 to 3 (3 being the worst), estimate its impact on the project on a scale of 1 to 3 (3 being the worst), then multiply the two numbers together. The result is the risk weighting. A high risk weighting is the most severe risk. Just manage the top ten risks i.e. the ones with the highest risk weighting. Constantly review the risks and constantly be on the lookout for new risks since they have a habit of jumping up at unforeseen moments.
Not managing risks effectively is also often cited as a major reason why projects fail.
So, in a nutshell, these best practices are the main things that I would expect all project managers to do. They are applicable on all projects big or small. Project management is not rocket science. Applying best practices on your project cannot guarantee that your project comes in under budget, on time and exceeds all the expectations of the stakeholders, but applying them will certainly give you a much better chance of delivering your project successfully than if you don’t apply them on your project.
I have a feeling I might have lost a few friends with this report. I hope not… you see, most of those “mystic-guru” project managers are actually pretty nice guys, and many of them are friends of mine. I think they just tend to get caught up in their image. Maybe they start believing their own PR.
Hopefully, they understand where I am coming from with this report and I won’t lose too many friends… it’s just that after I saw all those questions that people emailed to me, well I just had to get this material off my chest.
Obviously, this report is more an “expose” than an end-to-end guide. My goal was to open your eyes and clear up a lot of the misconceptions about project management.
In the coming days I will be releasing more information about my Project Management Documents that sell online (it was the responses to from my readers on my initial view of ProjectTemplates® that prompted this report).
ProjectTemplates® is unlike anything else that has been seen in the world of project management documents… it is structured like a true library, with guidelines, document templates, and project management process. It takes my entire collection reports, forms and documents, and systemizes them into discrete, easy-to-digest steps that are arranged in project phases.
The Project Templates package isn’t ready quite yet… but it will be soon. As you are on my Priority Notification List, then I will be sending you details as they get finalized (and you will also get a shot at the very best deal).
That’s it for now… now it’s time for you to get to work on some process that deliver!
P.S. Remember… it’s not black magic. And once you get the basics of project management, then you can literally write your own check any time you want.