You will learn best practices for managing government projects.
- As with every project, there are things you do and there are things you do not do. Let's go over the things you should do, also known as Critical Success Factors. Simply put, great project managers successfully deliver projects, so how do they do this? Well, they start with the end in mind. Great project managers keep the following five critical success factors front and center. They lead proactively, create and follow systems, validate deliverables, pay attention to details, and keep open lines of communication.
Now, I want to talk about each of these with you in a little more detail. The deciding factor in the vast majority of projects isn't the budget, or lack thereof, tight deadlines or scope changes. It usually comes down to the leadership style of the project manager and their ability to motivate their project team and other stakeholders. A proactive leader gets everyone behind a collective mission. Also, their ability to anticipate problems and provide solutions is critical.
So, how can you lead more effectively? It starts with gaining stakeholder buy-in early and often, as well as, setting clear expectations. This translates into healthy team relationships and support from otherwise neutral, or in extreme cases, frictional stakeholders. In your project management role, you are the CEO of your project. You set the direction for the entire project, and are responsible for the eventual outcome.
Once you have everyone on board, and you've set the right expectations, you need to create systems and methodologies so your projects run smoothly. As the manager of the project, you don't want to become the bottleneck. When you manage a project, you need to have processes in place so your team doesn't come to you with every little detail. Empower your team to make decisions and take action based on your guidelines and framework as the project manager.
When your team is within those guidelines, you're comfortable letting them do what they do. As a bonus, you also gain the respect of those experts, and let them know you trust them. The third critical success factor is making sure you validate your deliverables. Many times you will be under tight deadlines and might be tempted to cut corners, don't do it. One of the quickest ways to ruin you reputation and kill your personal brand is to become known for being error-prone, and you don't want that.
In other words, you don't validate your deliverables to ensure they are complete and accurate before meeting with key stakeholders. Not only is this highly embarrassing, it's also unprofessional. Harness a reputation of accuracy and delivering to expectations. That leads to the forth trait of great project managers. You need to pay attention to the details of your project.
Keep lots of notes and supporting data. You never know when they will come in handy. If nothing else, you can reference them when appropriate. This will also alert you to potential problems that may arise. Finally, throughout your project, you should keep open lines of communication. You want consistent, honest, open and clear communications. Ensure all stakeholders are kept in the loop on a need to know basis, especially, key stakeholders, such as you boss, customer, and sponsor.
Some ways you can do this are by issuing periodic status reports, arranging meetings, or hosting conference calls. I want to give you one last tip, empower you team members. Help them make decisions on their own, so you don't throttle the project flow. You want to be a conduit rather than a bottleneck on your projects. No matter how well you manage your project, mistakes will happen and adjustments will need to be made along the way.
It is your job to come up with a solid plan and make sure you stick to it. If you keep these five critical success factors in mind, you'll be well on your way to reaching your goal. What other success factors would you add? I encourage you to keep a running list and make it your own.
Learn the best practices and terminology for working with the government, including documentation such as subsidiary plans, RFPs, PWSs, and SOOs. Walk through the three phases of contract negotiation—pre-award, award, and post-award—and common challenges as well as solutions for bidding on government contracts and getting projects authorized.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
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- Avoiding common pitfalls
- Reviewing the request for proposal (RFP)
- Identifying stakeholders
- Refining the deliverables
- Finalizing the contract
- Kicking off the project
- Managing the project
- Closing out the project