Our recent quiz prompted a flurry of useful tips.

Thanks to everyone who took part in our recent quiz, it was great so see so many people submitting their project management tips, although I’m not sure about ‘kbkjbkj’ - it probably means something profound in Klingon!

To choose a favourite was difficult so we decided we really did want a tip, just a useful little bit of advice that might save you a bit of hassle as a PM, rather than some grand wisdom.

We were particularly attracted to tips that looked as they were based on hard-earned experience rather than remembered from the PowerPoint slide of a training provider (although we love training providers). We were also not keen on things that sounded like official pronouncements - so out went ‘Adopt a project methodology like PRINCE2’ (although we don’t really mind PRINCE2).

Here is our short list, in no particular order

  1. Check emails at 2-hourly or even 4-hourly intervals. Uninterrupted periods of concentration are key for me.
  2. Factor in extra time for testing as this is so often cut short in order to meet deadlines!
  3. In my experience placing more focus than you think is needed on engaging and managing the people effectively.
  4. Make hunting down and killing emergent risks a fun and priority activity. Engineers love providing solutions for problems: use this resource if you have it in the PM team to address the risks.
  5. Nail down what the minimum set of features is that will realise the business case and protect these from being corrupted by the greater ambitions of your stakeholders.
  6. Never tell them you are following PRINCE2 just get on with it.
  7. Supply biscuits when you call a lengthy meeting with a lot to get through.
  8. Always prep for steering / sponsor meetings by having one on one or ensuring that all paper work is received on time to allow full digestion to ensure quick decisions and to allow for more intelligent discussion if required.

In the end, the judges chose number 8 as the winner, provided by Maureen. Well done!

As an aside, in the quiz quite a few people thought that the project manager was a defined role in inspections. This question was taken from the end of the chapter in the book Project Management for IT-related Projects on quality. Reviews like inspections are usually carried out by your ‘peers’ - people on the same level as you - as the point is to spot faults in a piece of work, and having the boss there could make participants very nervous. If the boss insisted they attend, they should have no special status.

About the author

Bob Hughes is an academic at the University of Brighton. Author of a number of books including Project Management for IT-related Projects he is also the chief moderator of both the BCS Professional and Higher Education Qualifications in IT Project Management.