10 tips to improve project management

Launch and manage projects more efficienctly with these tips.

By Control Engineering Staff February 19, 2008

San Diego, CA – Planning list, know your risks, and better documentation are three of the top 10 things engineers should remember, according to

SmartDraw.com

.

The company– which makes programs to automate the creation of business graphics, project charts, Gantt charts,

bar graphs and pie charts

, schedules, and forms– released a list of

Top Ten Project Management Tips

, created by project management specialists. Goal is to help business professionals get projects off the ground quickly. Here’s an abbreviated version:

1. When beginning a project, make a list of all departments in the organization and what may be needed from them. This creates a step-by-step checklist of how to begin determining the specifics of the project plan.

2. Prepare a list of possible risks to the completion of the plan. Meet, and get input from others on potential risks. Risks are the enemy, so know them.

3. Documentation. Document all aspects of a requested change to a project plan, including who is requesting the change and where it falls as a priority. If it changes other priorities, write an explanation of the change and note who is authorizing it. This clarifies what needs to be done next and serves as personal protection in the case of miscommunications.

4. Effective project managers let changes roll off their backs and re-prioritize.

5. Project managers must make themselves known to departments involved in their project. If a department loses an employee, this may affect the timeline, so be in the loop for changes. Request being added to relevant departmental e-mail groups.

6. Convey a sense of urgency during the course of a project in order to maintain momentum. Communicating an impending deadline in a productive manner is key to keeping staff motivated.

7. Give away the keys. Delegate– give ownership to others on the team to keep them involved so they realize that results are tied to them.

8. Consider training for people on the team and include it in timetables.

9. The plan will probably go through revisions. Work from the current revision.

10. When communicating project progress, remember which audience is addressed. Supervisors may have different priorities than clients; stay specific.

The company says its SmartDraw software allows users to begin projects as a visual outline or

mind map

. Once the project is mapped, users view a project chart with a mouse click, toggling between map and chart views. Changes in one view are reflected in the other. Users type in task, date, or duration, and the program creates the graphic. Begin with a template designed to create the type of illustration that is needed. The program builds the graphic automatically using built-in rules and professional design themes for presentation-quality results in minutes, company says.

Free trial download of SmartDraw is available from the company Website. Individual licenses start at $297. Options are available for multiple-seat licenses, including an annual subscription agreement for company-wide usage at $2,995.

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