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How To Project Manage Like A Professional, Even If You're Not

Sep 8, 2008
As the old saying goes if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and this is an excellent ethos for any new project manager. Careful preparation rather than jumping straight in at the deep end can save you and your team, time, money and effort.

S.M.A.R.T. Is the universal acronym understood by most project managers and their teams. It is often used at the preliminary stages of a project in order to set appropriate targets for the assignment.

Specific. Your goal or goals must be precise with an obvious end result that all members understand with crystal clear clarity. This point will focus you as a coordinator and the individuals in your team to take suitable action on the appropriate tasks throughout the project. Depending on the complexity of your overall task keep it simple, especially on a day to day basis. Dealing with one issue at a time is a good way to make focussed progress. However remember, as project manager you must always have your eye on the bigger picture.

Measurable. Also known as manageable and meaningful. As a project manager you will have to motivate your team members through the whole process and judge the development of the mission while considering your remaining time and resources. This is a lot easier to do if your group have an invested interest in the work and care about an accurate execution to achieve a meaningful end result. As project manager you must maintain a measured perspective over the proceedings as a whole.

Achievable. There is no point in getting disheartened when you have failed to achieve ridiculous targets. Aim high by all means, but before you even begin you must set yourself realistic objectives that are obtainable. Make sure the targets are agreeable for all the associates involved, when you're half way through a tense project there's nothing worse than mutiny.

Relevant. Delegating applicable tasks to the most pertinent person is an essential part of project management. You will have to prioritise your time and tasks so careful consideration of individuals strengths and weaknesses will have to be employed to maintain morale in the team and ensure that advancement towards the end goal is always evident.

Time-bound. Every brief has a deadline and no doubt yours will have to be adhered to, so effective time management is crucial for any project. Start as you mean to go on, at the beginning of a venture drawing up a timeline can be invaluable. Give yourself staggered targets throughout the time period you have been afforded for completion of your project. Make this timetable accessible for the rest of your team and remind each member that they must update each other on their progress according to their targets for that day, week or month.

The S.M.A.R.T. mnemonic is a good way to get started, but the key to any successful project manager is regular and transparent communication with your team. Without this you will struggle to achieve our main aims and your team will become disillusioned with the project, so stay talking and stay S.M.A.R.T.
About the Author
PM Professional is the programme and project management training and development specialist committed to the development of individual capability as a key to delivering first class results.
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