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The Ten Commandments of Project Management
By John Filicetti

So you think your project is difficult to manage? Perhaps you don’t remember one of the world’s first and most effective project managers—Moses. He led thousands of people out of slavery and across a desert with Egyptian soldiers on his heels. To make matters worse, he had to contend with his people worshiping pagans. Try to deal with all of that while delivering on time and under budget!

Luckily for Moses, he received an effective set of guidelines carved on stone tablets. The Ten Commandments have been translated many times throughout the centuries, so we thought one more translation wouldn’t hurt. This time, we have found a set of rules to live by for today’s project manager. This list was created by SkillPath Seminars, based in Mission, KS, and it’s used as a learning tool during workshops that are held nationwide for project managers.

To keep your projects on the right path, follow the Ten Commandments of project management religiously.

  1. Thou shalt have a project with goals – Set a goal. It’s a basic task that too many people overlook. But we’ve interviewed countless project managers who insist that if you write down your project goal, you increase your chances for successful management. How many times have you completed internal projects only to learn that what was done did not satisfy each stakeholder? You can create better communication from the start with a written goal statement.
  2. Honor thy project objectives – Determine project objectives. Objectives and scope describe how the goal will be accomplished. In “Wrestle a Monster Project and Win,” Andy Weeks explains how to define objectives and scope. Your goal statement might say, “Provide connectivity to the network,” while the objectives statement might state, “build a LAN/MAN that connects two buildings.”

  3. Thou shalt commit to the schedule that management hath given thee – Establish time estimates with your stakeholders. Andy Weeks points out that you should also know the budget implications of the project deadline. For example, with an internal project, management may be forgiving with a deadline if there is a cost benefit to missing it. More likely, if meeting the deadline is imperative, the stakeholders may be willing to increase the cost of the project to meet that goal.

  4. Remember thy checkpoints – Create checkpoints. Develop mini-deadlines for completing tasks throughout the project. It gives the project manager a chance to ensure that team members are staying on track.

  5. Thou shalt delegate tasks to thy manservant or maidservant or staff – Assign tasks. Within clearly stated parameters, provide team members with the power to make decisions within their areas of responsibility.

  1. Thou shalt create a picture of thy project schedule – Draw a picture/flowchart of the project schedule. If you and your team have a way to visualize the project schedule, it will help everyone stay focused and track progress. There should be a beginning, middle, and end. Create a project schedule Gantt Chart, post it on a whiteboard and update it when tasks are completed.

  2. Honor thy team members – Direct people not only as a team but also individually. A good rule of thumb is that you should spend 85 percent of your time meeting with people on an individual basis. That means only a fraction of your time—15 percent—should be spent conducting group meetings.

  3. Thou shalt commit thyself and thy team to the project – Reinforce commitment by asking team members to add value to their task. When people are not motivated, you need to find ways to help your team take ownership of the task. Logically, they know they should do it, but emotionally they’re not fueled to do it. Project Managers should ask their team members this question: What do you have to think, say, or do to add value to this task? It’s a question the team members must answer for themselves. The more reasons they list, the faster they’ll complete the task. For example, if a project needs to be completed on budget—ask them to think of their financial stake in the company. Or, ask them to treat the project budget as if it were their own personal budget. Adding value is a tremendous motivator.

  4. Thou shalt document extensively and keep thy team informed – Document progress and keep your team informed. Documentation leaves a paper trail when questions are asked later or problems occur. Or, in the best-case scenario, your documentation leaves a successful blueprint for the next time the project is duplicated. In addition, your project can use documentation as a reliable system to update team members and stakeholders. Project management software or regularly scheduled e-mail and meetings can help accomplish this task.

  5. Thou shalt encourage creativity – Encourage creativity. Give your ego a rest. Your team members will develop better solutions and approaches if you empower them to make decisions and think creatively. Consider a reward system for those who develop innovative ideas.

John F. Filicetti, PMP, MBA
John Filicetti is a Sr. Sales Engineer/PM-PMO-PPM Consultant with a great depth of experience and expertise in enterprise project management, project management methodologies, Project Portfolio Management (PPM), Project Management Offices (PMOs), Governance, process consulting, and business management. John has directed and managed project management teams, created and implemented methodologies and practices, provided project management consulting, created and directed PMOs, and created consulting and professional services in such areas as project portfolio management, Governance, business process re-engineering, network systems integration, application development, infrastructure, and complex environments. John has enjoyed many years as PMO Director for large corporations in the Seattle area and leads the PMO Roundtable discussion group and forum.

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