“How do projects fall behind schedule?”Answer: “One day at a time”. Projects must be managed closely at all times, every day. When things change (and they will) act immediately; don’t wait.

This is the last in a series of four blogs about planning and executing projects. So far we have covered:

  • The importance of projects to the growth of your business
  • How to prepare for an upcoming project
  • Managing project risks
  • And how to plan the project

In this blog we cover tips on how to manage projects.

Here is the most important lesson learnt from our many years of planning and managing projects. If someone reports they didn’t finish a task on time but will “catch up next week”; be assured they will not catch up next week! Rearrange the plan. Take something out or adjust the end date.

Here are other important lessons we have learnt about managing projects:

  • Murphy’s states that if anything can go wrong it will. O’Toole considers Murphy an optimist.
  • If one person is assigned a task and you add a second person the task will not be completed in half the time.
  • Don’t kid yourself … or others. You may want to complete the project by year-end but if the timeline tells you otherwise do not assume you will find a way to shrink task estimates and complete it to your desired year-end.
  • Tasks never take less time than the estimates. They usually take longer.
  • Most if not all the people working on a project will have other duties and priorities in the company. The project is often an added burden and must be managed as such.
  • Managing a project team is very different than managing an operations team or a sales team.
  • Projects are sometimes viewed as an added part-time activity that must not take precedence over current responsibilities. Consequently, they are never done! A classic example; a salesperson is assigned a project task but is also expected to fulfill her sales quota. What would you do if you were in her shoes?

Projects are an essential ingredient to business success. But they are difficult and complex and are usually being executed by people who are not experienced in project work. So they are high risk. There are no guarantees in the world of business but if you do follow the suggestions in this series of four blogs (this is the 4th!) you will increase the probability of executing projects with some success, with less stress for everyone involved and a lower risk of harming the business in a major way. Hey, that’s a good thing!

Listen to this great 2-Minute Tip on Procrastination.