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Project Management Insights: PM Resolutions for a New Year

Christine Brack on February 4, 2021 - in Articles, Column

We’ve recently completed an interesting and challenging year, and there appears to be resounding energy and positivity to turn the calendar and move forward. Firms still are conducting strategic planning, transitioning ownership and focusing on improvements within operations. These all are good activities. The show must go on—maybe a little differently and more remotely, but it must go on. 

Transitioning from year to year often brings resolutions to mind and—even if you don’t pledge them in your personal life—a few are worthwhile to explore for the organization. We all have made resolutions that didn’t last and established firm-wide initiatives that stalled. The following is a list of areas and actions within project management worth exploring for adoption in 2021. 

Choose only one or two to start; keep at it; take on a few more as you build good habits; and take note of the results. Selecting any more at a time will become overwhelming in an already stressful environment. 

• Be accurate and timely on timesheets. The only way to really know how teams are performing on projects is through accurate time reporting. It also helps management know when to hire and lends to greater accuracy in budgeting. Log every hour spent on a project—nothing less and nothing more. Timeliness is essential. Trying to recreate a week’s worth of hours a week later or, with some firms I’ve spoken with, three weeks later, is a tall order for the memory. 

• Reunite for lessons learned. If you have kids in school at any level, you understand the challenges of e-learning and the back-and-forth shuffle of being in the classroom and out. Despite the disorder this system presents, the learning continues. Our businesses are no different. We should be making time to learn from mistakes, learn from things done well and learn from the experts in the firm. Put the routine of “lessons-learned sessions” back on the docket, and do it back in the office. The refreshing feeling of being with colleagues again and the ease of discoursing without a computer screen make this an easy objective. 

• Reduce everything that has “project” written on it. Firms have too many people they call project managers reading too many project reports for too many open projects. Ultimately, those reports begin to stack up—unread—and project metrics and performance slip. Project managers who lack important skill sets require more oversight than experienced ones. Most firms simply don’t supply what’s necessary, and things can go awry from there. Instead, define what it truly means to be a project manager and designate only those who can shoulder the responsibilities. Even without the use of today’s simple tools and programs, a good project manager has a sense of where a project stands without having to crank out reams of paper. 

• Cut yourself some slack. We’ve all had more lousy days than anticipated this year. We’ve all had to shift expectations, be more flexible, do things radically different overnight, lead through uncertainty and still pull off good projects. Sometimes it seemed hopeless or that the fun had all gone out of what we used to enjoy. No one is a superhero. On any given day when it feels like it’s too much, try any combination of the following to tide you over: vent to a balanced, disconnected person; do something to treat yourself kindly; seek fresh air and breathe deeply; get some exercise and move about; and, finally, just start over in the morning. Clearer minds always prevail. 

• Assess maturity. Depending on what you have developed in your strategic plan regarding project management, understand first where the system stands from a level of readiness. Implementation of intricate processes and tools is risky when teams are only familiar with the basics. There are changes and implementations appropriate for every level of maturity, building upon the other in a progressive and easy-to-adopt way. You’ll see success with swifter buy-in and faster integration. 

Beyond this list, think about the ways you could practice better project management and take it on. Like any commitment, stay with it until it becomes a habit. Even when you slip a little or have an all-out failure, you should understand it’s all part of the process. The point behind any resolution is to stop something not helpful or become something better. Good luck and Happy New Year. I hope it’s a healthy and prosperous one for you!


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About Christine Brack

Christine Brack, PMP, is a Principal at ChrismarGroup, a training and consultancy firm; email: [email protected].

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