February 24, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

7 Steps to Becoming a Better Project Manager

When you become a full-time project manager, you are always looking for ways that will help you be more successful. The purpose of this article is to give you 7 steps towards a successful outcome for your projects.  The 7 Steps will be presented in two parts. Some factors will influence your success: like the power you are granted as a project manager, the responsibilities you are given and the type of organization you are in.

1.      Conduct a project discovery session

Have a discussion where the idea of the project is discussed. It may involve some formal planning with a Business Case, estimates and Benefit Management. At some organizations, this session is part of pre-sales or Deal Phase and the result may be a proposal to a customer. Once this proposal is accepted, the project receives the go-ahead to start. At this time the project manager is usually assigned. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with all the documents from this phase as well as any lessons learnt from previous projects.

2.      Document Stakeholder expectations

It is important to capture all stakeholder needs early on and to define the meaning of success for everyone. Small projects may collect the expectations through personal interviews or by email. Larger projects, with stakeholders potentially numbering in the thousands, may employ sampling strategies and extensive consultation.

Once such Stakeholder Management tool is called “Conditions of Satisfaction” which is a way of ensuring that the customer’s (stakeholder) expectations are identified, agreed and that action plans are defined and allocated to responsible persons to implement.

It is also vital to articulate an understanding of the core benefits of the projects implementation. Understanding stakeholder expectations and key benefits will influence how the project will proceed, and will provide input into the Communication Plan. Having well-documented expectations and clearly defined benefits will pay dividends when project success metrics are being created and when key decisions must be made.

3.      Put project governance in place

Document the governance and routines for the project as well as expectations for the team.  How will your project be managed? How and where will status reports and project documents be stored, and what will they look like? What is the team’s appetite for risk? How often will you meet as a project team? Have you worked together before?

Once established, the Project Governance and all key project components should be covered in a formal initiation meeting, also called a Kick-off meeting, to certify that everyone is on the same page.  When you conduct projects for external customers, it is important to have an internal kick-off meeting with the project team first to ensure alignment, before you start engaging with the customer.

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  1. Ibrahim says:

    Good article, looking forward to the next steps.

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  1. […] is Part 2 of the series on: The 7 Steps to become a better Project Manager. Please read Part 1 before you read the remaining steps to help you be more successful as a project […]