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Everybody has heard the horror stories of projects that took way more money and way more time than originally planned. In construction, one of the famous tunnel projects in Boston took 9 years longer than it was supposed to!
The same pattern exists in all kinds of project management. It has become a stereotype and a joke that projects so often take more time and money than projected. It is for that reason that effective project managers are in such short supply and such high demand.
The most important lessons learned in project management, both positive and negative, are the key to becoming a great project manager. Read on to learn all about some of the most important things to keep in mind when managing your own projects and applying to future projects!
Define the Scope of the Project
One of the biggest reasons that project success is elusive is because project managers do not do proper preparation. The best project managers make sure that their project will be successful by doing a lot of work before the project ever starts.
The right preparation prior to the beginning of a project can save you an incredible amount of time and stress after the project starts. According to the Project Management Institute, defining your project goals is one of the most important things you can do to make sure that your project stays on track. Once the project has started, if the project team starts to get distracted, it is important to steer them back to the goals you set up.
On top of that, it is important to figure out the central essence of what you are creating. What are the things that you absolutely need to accomplish and what would you like to accomplish but is not absolutely necessary?
Who, if anyone, absolutely has to be involved in the project? What resources will you need, and what resources would help you to finish your project faster?
Figuring out all of these things in advance can save you a lot of time down the road!
Invest in the Right Team
Another one of the most common reasons for project failure is failure to find the best team members possible. This is another way that preparation can pay off once the project gets going.
Your project will depend completely on the quality of the teamwork that you can bring to the table. It is a bit of a joke how meetings to discuss projects are often dull and seemed pointless.
You can avoid that problem if you have team members who understand project planning, collaboration, and are focused on progress rather than their own position.
No matter what else you do, there is little that can make up for failure to find good team members to work with. One of the best project lessons learned is that you cannot manage your way to success with a sufficiently bad team.
Bring the Best Tools
The last step in preparation is to make sure that you have all the tools that you need to make her project go as well as possible. The right kind of project management software can save you potentially hundreds of hours.
If you document lessons learned along the way, you are more likely to avoid repeating errors. It is worth keeping in mind that any error that your team commits is a hint that they may commit that error again.
Articulating the nature of an error committed, writing it down, and presenting it to your team is a powerful way to keep them from making the same mistakes over and over again. At the end of the day, if you can make each kind of mistake only once, you will probably do better than most project managers.
The right documents and project management software can be powerful tools that will help keep your project on track!
Use Smart Collaboration
Whenever possible, it is always great if you can find competent people to outsource tasks to. Collaboration is an incredibly powerful tool and it is responsible for many of the great things that humanity has created.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, business has moved more and more online. Think about people that you might be able to collaborate with. These days, you might even be able to collaborate with people who are geographically distant.
If there is something that your team does very well, then maybe you can offer a trade. Your team can help someone else with what your team is good at, and they can help you with something that you are struggling with. Remember, team work leads to project success.
Figure Out Your Subgoals
Breaking down your goals into subgoals is a powerful way to keep your team on track. Always reference the next goal that you need to achieve. Always remind them of how it fits into the bigger picture.
This will help people maintain a sense of purpose and avoid burnout.
A lot of people try to motivate people to resist the temptation of distraction. If you can just eliminate the potential for distraction, you can generally avoid distraction much better.
Find the most egregious distractions limiting your progress and find ways to take them out of the equation. You might be surprised, but the lessons learned process has found amazing gains in productivity when distractions are eliminated.
The Best Lessons Learned in Project Management
We hope that you were able to take away something helpful from this brief article on some of the most important lessons learned in project management. Project management is an essential skill that can be applied in many industries. Learning everything you can about project management and applying lessons learned is an investment that will pay off over and over for many years to come.
To learn more about the tools and training that you can use to become the most effective project manager possible, feel free to reach out and get in touch with us here at any time!