6 Tips to Improve Your Project Management Skills
At the Publishing Business Conference & Expo, held last month in New York City, project management expert Rita Mulcahy (president and CEO of RMC Project Management) led an informative session on how to hone your project management skills. She emphasized that project management skills are essential for all executives, noting that only 34 percent of all projects succeed and that the average project has a 43-percent cost overrun.
Mulcahy offered the following tips for successfully implementing your next project:
1. Develop a project charter. The charter should provide a basic description of the project, including the project title, why the project is needed, the assigned project manager, resources needed to complete the project, and measures of success. Have all parties involved sign off on the charter.
2. Create a project plan. A project plan is a multipage, detailed document that describes the project schedule, costs, resources, potential risks, and how all of these elements will be managed.
3. Get organized. Break down the project into manageable pieces. Create a chart that identifies each of the project pieces, including the staff involved in and the timeline for completing each piece.
4. Focus on risk management. Determine your risks—what can go right or wrong throughout the course of the project? Prioritize your list and address the top risks. How can you eliminate the risk before it happens? Create a risk management plan, including a contingency plan if the risk is unavoidable.
5. Communication is key. “Communication is the No. 1 problem on projects,” said Mulcahy. Be proactive, she advised, and include communication in your project plan. Focus on “two-way street” communication. Instead of saying “Do this” to a staff member, ask, “What needs to be done?”
6. Control the project. According to Mulcahy, controlling the project means measuring and adjusting so the project can meet any time or cost constraints.