managing a project
February 12, 2019

Tips for managing a project, more advice from experience with real world projects

By Tony Boobier

Continuing our series of practical tips for managing a project. In this post guest blogger, Tony Boobier, shares five more tricks of the trade.

If the previous four tips focussed on managing the workload, these five are more people focussed. A useful addition to our previous posts on Stakeholder Management & Stakeholder Engagement.

Over to Tony to share his final tips. One’s that I have seen are important for those managing data or analyst projects too. Here is more of what Tony learnt from managing that large programme…

Manage the Sponsor

He was there principally to manage the politics of the organisation. Which meant that, like me, there were no surprises which would catch him on the back foot.

And if I felt that there were organisational frictions, that I brought them to his attention as soon as I could. Especially before they escalated. And don’t confuse sponsorship with friendship, by the way.

Manage the stakeholders

We used an approach where we identified the key stakeholders, interviewed them, and shared their input.

This helped us in understanding some of the implementation issues, especially where stakeholders had concerns, but more importantly it made them feel like they were part of the programme, rather than ‘victims’.

Measure the Delta

The ‘delta’ or difference is the accurate management (and measurement) of the benefits of the changes being made. To do this required us to know the starting place – otherwise, how could you ever measure the improvement?

Remember that the benefits might be either ‘hard’ ie financial benefits, or ‘soft’ ie cultural benefits.

There’s often a tendency to start the change programme as quickly as possible, but there are some foundational tasks that need to be carried out like setting out the baseline for change, and everyone agreeing what it is.

Measure progress independently

We are all human, and we don’t like to be the bringer of bad news, especially where they might be ‘career limiting’. So if there are issues, often they don’t always come to the surface before it’s become a real problem.

Independent measurement also avoids disagreement between parties as to the true state of progress.

Celebrate Success

The taste of success is very sweet, and sometimes just doesn’t come as often as we would all like. So when it comes, we need to enjoy the moment.

Which was most important tip for me?

Well, for me, it was to break down the programme to a personal level, the idea of daily progress measured as a financial target.

Nowadays I spend a lot of my time writing, (my third book to be published is well under way), and I use many of the same techniques, only this time it is a ‘words per day’ target. With an aim of publishing 100k words by the contractual deadline, when I allow for drafts, holidays and other commitments I know I’ll need to write 1000 words per day at least.

That’s the figure which sits on my desk in front of me every day. What figure sits on yours to hold you accountable?