The 9 Best Project Management Techniques You’re Not Using

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Co-authored with Paul Tenuta

We are spending a lot of time lately helping companies think about the “reasons behind the reasons” that projects succeed or fail.  Just measuring scope, schedule and budget just doesn’t cut it.  Here are 9 of the best project management techniques that you should consider adding to your management toolkit that dig deeper into the people, behaviors and decision-making that makes or breaks projects.

  1. Survey your business and IT stakeholders and broader organization if they think the project will be successful or not. Do it regularly.
  2. When planning, find 3 completed projects similar to what you’re trying to do and get those project managers together to compare notes.
  3. Spend some time thinking through a “start-up” approach to completing the project – how would your design your project if you were in college with limited capital but plenty of smart resources?  How does it differ from the proposed approach?
  4. Use storyboards to show users how their (and customers) lives will improve once the project is done.
  5. Develop a simple statement of the business value of your project and have every team member, manager and sponsor memorize it.  Think of this as the Super Bowl commercial of your project.
  6. Schedule junior team members to present project status.  Build tomorrow’s project leaders today by challenging them to delivery messages to executives early in their career.
  7. Have a business leader not affiliated with the project conduct a devil’s advocate workshop to poke holes in the business case and capabilities.  Break into two teams to argue both sides, do it in an off-site, make the exercise meaningful by incorporating results into plan.
  8. When faced with a major project decision, spend the time to develop multiple, viable alternatives, rather than hard wire the “obvious” path.
  9. If you have a vendor who’s a major part of the project, get an executive on their advisory board and attend the meetings.  You can learn a lot by talking frankly with other customers.  Alternately, send a few attendees to their user conferences.

What unique but effective techniques have you used that have helped you better manage projects?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by kevinpoh

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  • Steve Romero, IT Governance Ev

    I love this post. It is hard for me to pick a favorite of the nine because they are all so great. So I will point the one aspect about the post I most appreciate – and that is the focus on the business (involving the business, speaking in business terms and understanding business value). Brilliant suggestions that are sure to exponentially raise the potential for IT project success. Nicely done.

    Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist
    http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

  • Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist, PMP

    I love this post. It is hard for me to pick a favorite of the nine because they are all so great. So I will point the one aspect about the post I most appreciate – and that is the focus on the business (involving the business, speaking in business terms and understanding business value). Brilliant suggestions that are sure to exponentially raise the potential for IT project success. Nicely done.

    Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist
    http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

  • Mercedes Soria

    I especially like #5, being able to articulate in one sentence what we are doing and how this project will make a difference in our clients life is a good way give the team a common goal.

  • Mercedes Soria

    I especially like #5, being able to articulate in one sentence what we are doing and how this project will make a difference in our clients life is a good way give the team a common goal.

  • JR

    i love all the points mentioned here and in particular, like #5 and #8. I would like to add ‘ understanding the political undercurrents related to the project and whether there are people who want the project to fail’ as one of the key things a project manager should do.

  • JR

    i love all the points mentioned here and in particular, like #5 and #8. I would like to add ‘ understanding the political undercurrents related to the project and whether there are people who want the project to fail’ as one of the key things a project manager should do.

  • nice blog

  • #8 is used by many, stakeholders expect multiple options when it comes to mitigating a major issue on the project.

    I would also add #10) Create a contingency when it comes to your vendors. You need to have a backup plan in case one of your vendors goes bankrupt or simply decides not to sell you anymore…

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