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30 things to do to ensure project success

This could be your first project, or it could be your thirtieth, but either way, there are always lessons to be learned from any project environment.

So, to continue our 30th birthday celebrations, here are thirty things we recommend to ensure your projects are a success, with a few lighthearted ones thrown in for good measure!

1. Start the project assuming you WILL finish on time and within budget.

2. Trust the technical teams to do the right thing.

3. Learn about Agile, it’s coming to a project near you soon if it hasn’t already.

4. Usually the safest thing to compromise on is scope.

5. Remember you will be remembered for the quality of your outputs, not the quantity or how many of them finish on time, so agree on what “good” looks like.

6. Realise that if you put unrealistic targets on people they will either fail or lie to you.

7. Make the hard to measure things easier to measure, rather than measuring the easy things.

8. Remember that nobody comes to work to do a bad job.

9. If your team are looking a little stressed, consider investing in a fully-stocked biscuit tin.

10. On that note, offering to do a tea round will never go amiss…

11. Understand what you need to plan before planning.

12. Plan based on the outcome if you don’t know what products to produce.

13. If you do know what products are needed, base your planning on these rather than starting with tasks.

14. Having cake in the office will always be well received!

15. Pets are known to have a calming influence, so why not invest in an office dog, or cat, depending on preference?

16. Treat stakeholder engagement as another work stream – it will require time and resources.

17. Understand that value means different things to different people.

18. Make sure you understand that closing a project early because it is wasting money is a success – keeping a project running when it is wasting or losing money is counterproductive.

19. Name and number everything and decide what to keep under change control.

20. Never ever say, “Bring me solutions not problems” – it makes people feel worthless, and they won’t tell you anything else again.

21. Phrase all issues as questions, something like “Now that x has happened, what can we do about it?”

22. If you have too many issues to deal with, work on improving your risk management.

23. Agree your role and authority with your sponsor, so it’s clear what you do and what you delegate to others.

24. If the project sponsor (executive) asks for something, let them know the impact before saying yes.

25. Having a happy team is paramount, so getting a few social events in the diary could be a winner.

26. Stay hydrated – no one ever made a bad life decision after consuming a sufficient amount of water.

27. Nobody will read your elaborate reports, so keep them simple.

28. Don’t micromanage your team – you recruited them because of their knowledge and experience, not in spite of it.

29. The best ideas do not always come from the loudest voices. Listen carefully.

30. And finally, there’s no low mood that can’t be fixed with some Motown music (subject to your musical preferences, but it’s usually a pretty safe choice…)