The Lucky Project Manager

Does luck have anything to do with the success of projects, there is always an element of luck involved, times when the moon aligns and everything just falls into place. These events happen way too infrequently. The identified risks didn’t eventuate, easy access to major stakeholders and sponsors who provide quick decision turn around. All the required resources where available, knew exactly what to do and worked well together, all focused on the goal at hand. The vendor always delivered in a timely manner and was available.

Planning and risk mitigation determines the real luck, or if it should be called luck at all. Projects rely on relationships, professionalism, capacity planning and above average service to get the job done.

To succeed or create luck when running projects, then project managers must learn to be great leaders. To achieve the results expected when delivering a project then focus on some of these best practices.

Exploring opportunities – Opportunities to deliver projects can come from anywhere, whether from within the organization or via a chance meeting at an event. Recognize potential opportunities, so, regardless of the situation or circumstances, show an interest in the people you meet.

Prove yourself – Regardless on the size of the project, always put in your best effort, as it can result in another contract, other opportunities. Performing well on one assignment, regardless of size provides the opportunity for the next, reminder that success leads to opportunity.

Have your own SLA – Personal service level agreements exists, not necessarily documented, but service levels as a project manager are personally administered. Quality factors, often referred to as non-functional requirements, affect way too many projects. Knowing a client’s expectations about things like performance, security, recoverability, continuity, ease of use and scalability, for example, and managing to those targets improves a project’s chances of success immensely.

Never stop Learning – Read whitepapers, take online courses, take the time out to investigate more about the organization and how the project will impact the business environment. It provides a broader and informed frame of reference in outlook. It would make the project manager look like an expert in the client’s eyes. It helps grow expertise and helps solve the problem.

Build a knowledge base – This point is similar to the “Never stop Learning” point above but it’s worth differentiating too. Broaden learning; don’t just focus on one element. Learn about the business as well. That broad yet focused domain knowledge can provide an insight needed to assist with the solution.

Reuse – Previous experience always comes in handy when thinking about possible solutions, whether it be business or technology related, and exploring, at a high level, how elements of a solution could emerge, evolve and integrate is critical to success. That world view provided a well- defined foundation and a framework for reuse – of concepts, designs, hardware and software – that allowed teams to deliver more appropriate, higher quality solutions faster and at less cost.

The best team – Build if possible the best team, resources who know how you operate and they know how you operate. Include a balanced mixture of education, experience, attitude and determination. Ensure there is a blend of courage, tenacity, resilience a willingness to think differently, and a sense of humor for good measure.

Shape culture – Building a great team is not necessarily easy, especially if there is a corporate culture in place that doesn’t permit it. Achieving outstanding results can be difficult as staff are shaped and guided by that culture.  If this is the case then careful persuasion within the organization is needed, being very diplomatic is a benefit.

Too many companies have a cut-throat, high-pressure, take-no-prisoners culture to drive their financial success. But a large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology demonstrates that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.

Try and bridge the divide between staff and client’s by forging a new normal. It is clear; luck has little to do with project success, in essence you are the author of your own luck. Put these points on a to-do list for your career and future projects.

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