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How to Project Manage Just About Anything

You project manages things all the time, most of the time without any conscious awareness that there is any management involved, or that there is a project that is being managed.

The key skill required in most situations is relevant experience and the more experience you have with a task the easier it becomes. With sufficient planning, you reach the point for many day to day tasks you need no conscious planning, or management actions to complete the task successfully.

Take for example the project “Get to work on time”. The first time you started your new job, you needed to research the train or bus times, or where to park your car, or work out how long it would take to walk, drive or cycle to work. With that information you could programme when to leave your house and knowing that you could plan when to set your alarm clock to ensure you would wake early enough to be dressed and breakfasted in good time. Perhaps you set a second alarm clock as a contingency should the first fail to wake you and the night before you made sure you had clothes ready to wear.

Whilst this level of project management seems very simplistic, these planning and programming steps are all essential to almost any project. What you may not have is the specialist experience necessary to project manage the detailed elements of complex projects but in most cases this can be obtained as required through the use of specialist advisors and consultants. Selecting the right team makes up the third important part of project managing any project you want.

The fourth element of any successful project is knowing what you want to achieve and there are four main sections that you will need to control. These are scope, cost, quality and time. If you can clearly set out your ambitions in relation to all four of these criteria you are well on your way to successfully meeting them. Of course if you decide to project manage the building of a new nuclear energy plant, you will need a lot of specialist advice to ensure your ambitions are realistic and that progress towards them is on track and possibly the final key skill is to be able to promote effective communication with your team.

Although it is possible to project manage almost any project using these five key skills, you should ask yourself not only can you manage a particular project, but if you actually want to. If the answer to both these questions is a resounding, “no” you can still use these skills as benchmarks to help select a suitable project manager.

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