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5 things you may not know about managing projects

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5 things you may not know about managing projects

Project management isn't easy... no question about it. Every project is different. Every project customer and team is different. No two situations are exactly the same. Experienced project managers basically know this, but this list of five things you may not know about managing projects may help some of you and newbies may find it most beneficial.

There's logic, and then there's reality. You may know some of these, but I guarantee you that at least a few newbies will learn something they may not know about project management.

1. If you're an experienced PM, you probably have a better resume than the person you report to. This may come as a surprise, but if you have a few years of proven PM experience you probably look better on paper than whoever you are reporting to. With my VP at one of my first companies, that was the case. As we were gathering resumes to create an experience portfolio to use for winning projects, our office admin pointed that at to me - she sort of reported to both of us but he was her boss on paper.

At my next organization that was the case with PMO Director. It was the case at one early company where I was leading large multimillion-euro contracts. Mostly because I was more of the hands-on doer, as you probably are, and they were more of the resource manager.

2. The financial part isn't that easy to manage. You probably aren't thinking it's a cake walk to manage. Nothing financial ever really is. Most of us really stink at it personally. I do. But professionally -- on projects and consulting engagements, thankfully, I'm much better at it. Just be sure to make a good friend / contact in accounting who will help you get accurate project financials every week and use those to keep the financial health picture and the financial forecast up-to-date every week so the budget never runs away from you.

Skip it for even one week and you could be in real trouble. Imagine 30 different people writing checks or holding ATM cards to your personal bank account. That's what's happening on your projects. Be careful -- watch the finances very closely.

3. You'll always have change orders. You can say, “I'm excellent at managing scope.” You can say, “there's going to be no real need for a change order process.” Right. Every project has change. Every project has customers requesting something that isn't in the original requirements. Requirements always change at least a little. F.e. organization won a huge project because CEO promised no change orders no matter what. Then he took his own life early in the project. Talk about major change. It shut the company down. There's your change.

4. Your customer may not know the real issue that's creating the project need. This one happens all the time. The customer thinks he needs a new CRM system. Turns out what he really needs is the entire underlying HR, accounting and reservation system re-worked in order to solve all of his real problems because they are all home-grown patched up pieces of software that will never talk accurately or efficiently with the new solution you build for customer relationship management – or anything off the shelf you bring in and customize.

5. Your customer / project sponsor has many other priorities. Finally, this may be a huge project to you, but to your project sponsor – at least on some engagements – this may be just some stupid project dumped on him that he now has to watch over while he works 110 percent on everything else he's responsible for. So it may not be his top priority and when you go looking for him for decisions, information, clarifications and meetings, it may be hard to find him or pin him down to specific dates, times and commitments.