Keep These 3 Priorities In Focus

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Categories: Strategy


by Dave Wakeman

In today’s project environment, it can be difficult for project managers to know where they should—or shouldn’t—focus their time and energy. Stakeholders, team members, and sponsors, all with their own agendas, pull project managers in different directions. 

That said, I think all project managers can gain a great deal by focusing on the following:

1. Opportunities within the project. I’ve never seen a project that’s set in stone. In truth, almost every project I’ve worked on has changed so much throughout the course of its existence that it often becomes unidentifiable with the initial scope. 

This can be frustrating, but to maximize your success as a project manager, you should embrace the change process because it allows you to search for and capture opportunities that will enable you to have the highest impact. 

Think about this simplified example: Let’s say you are working on a web project. The scope of the project calls for you to build a responsive website that can handle a certain amount of traffic, and you have three months to do it. That’s pretty clear-cut, right? 

It is. And, you could definitely go right through the project and deliver. But what if you discovered a more cost-effective way to host the site with a better load speed? Wouldn’t that be identifying an opportunity and creating a better outcome for you, your team and your client?       

2. Development of your team. One challenge we often face is resource uncertainty. Essentially, will our human capital sufficiently meet the project’s demands? 

This is an ongoing challenge in many organizations. Staff members are often overburdened, and they’re not always up to speed on the newest ideas, techniques, and tools.

To maximize your impact, it pays to spend time thinking about and developing your team. Consider ways you can help build up your team’s skills in a way that will make your life as the project manager easier. It may be as simple as identifying a skill crucial to your project and providing some type of consistent coaching, information or feedback each week that helps improve that specific area.  

3. Testing as you work your way through a project. Does this part work the way it should? Did that segment of the project produce the outcome we needed? Are people reacting the way we thought they would or should?

Pay attention to each step in the project and spend time testing your assumptions and your results against the work produced. It’ll pay off in the end.

In some cases, things will work out exactly how you thought they would. But in the cases where that doesn’t happen, testing can be the difference between the success and failure of your project. 

Is there anything else you consistently remain focused on during your projects? 

Posted by David Wakeman on: December 12, 2018 11:57 AM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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Interesting one.
Thanks a lot!!

Thanks for sharing David, I agree, invest time and effort in resource management, a good team working collectively have a shared interest to achieve the project goal

Thanks David.

Three little priorities that can have a tremendous impact on your future results!

Interesting thanks!

Great points, David.

Nice priorities.
Certainly "Development of your team" is important, actually, the worst project management people I have seen are those that don't develop the team.

Nice points David! but may I suggest to add one more priority? The last 2 projects I've been working on, one was successfully done and the other was a complete disaster, both of them at the same company. The difference between them was mainly how the Board of Director saw priorities according to the business goals. I would recommend to check from time to time if the project remains part of the company's priorities, especially when the economy fluctuates a lot as in the case of Brazil.
During the 2nd project we had a significant reduction in sales which drastically affected the priorities of the projects. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks Dave... Excellent points and reminders....

Regarding this one section:
1. Opportunities within the project.
"Think about this simplified example: Let’s say you are working on a web project. The scope of the project calls for you to build a responsive website that can handle a certain amount of traffic, and you have three months to do it. That’s pretty clear-cut, right? "

It is. And, you could definitely go right through the project and deliver. But what if you discovered a more cost-effective way to host the site with a better load speed? Wouldn’t that be identifying an opportunity and creating a better outcome for you, your team and your client?
=================================
The order of this so-called "Better-solution" is quite telling.

You were NOT engaged to create a better outcome for you, or your team.
In order to do so for your client, you would need to first re-engage your client and help walk them through how their expectations will be met with your proposed redefinitions of scope, schedule and budget.

A frequent complaint of clients about those technical folks who serve them is "Maybe I'm not a technical expert, but I am intelligent, and would appreciate being included BEFORE change is made.

Quality is meeting the requirements of the customer.

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