8 Ways to Make Your PM Lifestyle Easier

This guest post is by Brad Egeland.
It is hard enough managing projects. Projects fail at more than 50%. The project manager and team are constantly under pressure to deliver. Customer satisfaction is key. The executive team wants to see the project profit margin maximized or exceeded. The PMO director also wants full utilization of his project managers and the delivery team for each project. Many responsibilities that the PM must fulfill in order to please others are constantly being carried out with little recognition and constant threat of failure, many times due to circumstances beyond the control of the project manager or team.
Let’s see if we can make it easier to manage these projects. What can we do for project management to be more efficient? How can we keep our teams engaged in OUR project, even though they are being pulled in many different directions by their department supervisors and other project responsibilities? What about the customer? How can we keep them focused and engaged while allowing them to fulfill their responsibilities?
Here are my top 8 ways project managers can make their lives easier. This will also help our project team members, and hopefully our clients.
#1 Formally kick off your project.
Gather as much information as possible from the account manager, create a schedule showing key milestone dates, prepare a formal kickoff agenda, and hold a formal kickoff meeting for all stakeholders. This meeting should be guided by the statement of work and the draft project schedule. It is important to establish expectations for the project moving forward. This meeting is the right time to do this.
#2 Meet at minimum weekly with your internal delivery team.
You can keep your team engaged and get the latest progress updates. I recommend meeting with your team on the day before the weekly status call with the client.
#3 Monitor your budget weekly.
You should monitor the budget and forecast and re-forecast it every week. It’s unlikely that the project budget will ever go beyond 10% if you keep an eye on it. This will make it much easier to fix than a 50% excess.
#4 Take the time to manage risk.
Get your customer and team together early in the project to identify potential risks and then plan how to mitigate or avoid them. This will help you be prepared in the event of any potential risks.
#5 Closely manage problems
Assign ongoing tasks to the project team. Delegate and assign them – make the act of reviewing the issue status part the weekly status call. Unchecked issues could cause a project to stop.
#6 Have weekly status meetings with project customers, no matter what.
Sometimes, there isn’t enough information to share with customers in a status call. Refrain from trying to cancel or postpone the meeting. Keep the momentum going and keep it going. It is important to not make the customer feel disconnected from the project.
#7 Send your project status information to your executive management regularly.
Keep your executive management team updated about the status of your project. Although they may not be able to read what you send them, it is a good thing that you have sent it. It will be much easier if they are able to remove a roadblock from your project.
#8 Always assign tasks the customer.
Sometimes it can be difficult to keep your customer’s attention on the project. Avoid this scenario by assigning tasks to your customers, no matter how small, so they know what you expect.