New to Project Management? Here’s the Complete Manual on Running Projects of all Kinds
Why did we collect all of these project management tips? Approximately 66% of the people who manage projects in any given organization have no training of any kind in project management. This can result in a lot of challenges for organizations, for teams, and for the people who are managing projects without formal training. We’ve spent a month scouring the Internet for the best articles about how to manage projects through every phase of creation and we’ve found more than 300 articles to help anyone understand what to do when they’re managing a project. Hopefully this can help project managers who lack training feel confident about their ability to deliver a quality project on time and with a minimum of stress. 🙂
Click on a link in the Table of Contents below to go directly to that section.
1. Define the problem
Project Management for Non Project Managers
- A project management guide for non-project managers, including: what is project management, project management skills, project management steps, project management templates, project management software.
- The Project Management Starter Guide for Non-Project Managers
- It’s important to borrow from the collective genius of your team, via brainstorming — and it’s essential to develop an effective creative brainstorming process to get you there. This post will outline tips for preparing, facilitating, and following up on brainstorming sessions. All you need is post-it notes.
- Six steps to organize a winning brainstorming session.
- 5 Ways to Transform Your Next Work Brainstorming Session Into Something Really Great. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/305715
- One of the core responsibilities of a product manager is to prioritise everything that needs to get done into a roadmap. Here’s how to do it right.
- How to use the simple and highly effective RICE method to prioritize your product roadmap.
- A guide covering 20 popular product prioritization techniques. Included in the article: A map, in the form of a Periodic Table to help you make sense of what each technique has to offer; an overview of each method, with graphics and links to more in-depth resources; and 5 commonalities and takeaways from all these methods.
- Learn how to use the BRASS method to find out which customer acquisition channel will be most effective in gaining users. http://blog.growthtribe.io/brass-method-your-ultimate-guide-to-prioritising-which-customer-acquisition-channel-to-test-first/
- How to blend analysis and intuition to make project management decisions. This paper outlines a decision making technique designed to integrate objective fact-based analysis with subjective human-centric input.
- 5 project management decision-making models: SWOT analysis, Maslow’s pyramid, Pareto principle, Monte Carlo simulation, and decision tree analysis.
- To make better decisions about your product or service, go straight to the source and interview your customers. Here’s how. https://www.atlassian.com/team-playbook/plays/customer-interview
- How to to user research when you don’t have the budget or the timeline to run user tests, card sorts, or stakeholder interviews, as well as when your company doesn’t want you bothering the paying customers who use their software. http://alistapart.com/article/user-research-when-you-cant-talk-to-your-users
- User Research: What It is and Why You should do It
- A talk with David Darmanin of Hotjar on how to use user research to transform your company. The link contains the full recording and an excerpt of the talk, edited for length and clarity.
- A 5-Step Process For Conducting User Research written by the director of user research at LinkedIn. https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/09/5-step-process-conducting-user-research/
- Modern day UX research methods answer a wide range of questions. Learn how to know when to use which user research method. Each of 20 methods is mapped across 3 dimensions and over time within a typical product-development process. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/
- How to choose a user research method. This article is intended to give a quick rundown of how to decide on what your research goals are, and what techniques you can use to achieve those goals.
- Step-by-step tutorial on how-to conduct usability testing.
- An explanation on how to conduct the 5 phases of usability testing: Prepare your product or design to test, find your participants, write a test plan, take on the role of the moderator, and present your findings.
- The Basics of Recruiting Users for Usability Testing
- A Beginner’s Guide to User Journey Mapping.
- When and How to Create Customer Journey Maps. Journey maps combine two powerful instruments—storytelling and visualization—in order to help teams understand and address customer needs. While maps take a wide variety of forms depending on context and business goals, certain elements are generally included, and there are underlying guidelines to follow that help them be the most successful.
- How to Create a Customer Journey Map
- Like other UX research techniques (including user personas), there’s some vagueness and obscurity around how to actually create customer journey maps. This article will draw processes and customer journey mapping examples from experts in the field, and you’ll hopefully walk away with a real and clear picture of how to do it on your own.
- The conversion funnel is the most important part of every e-Commerce website. It’s where visitors turn into customers, fulfilling the purpose of your website. Sometimes the visitor initiates his journey through the conversion funnel but doesn’t buy. Here’s how to find and fix conversion problems with google analytics.
- Your website is leaking money. Everybody’s is. The first step toward plugging the leaks is identifying WHERE the leaks are. Which funnel steps, which layers of your site, which specific pages are leaking money? Google Analytics can provide answers. https://conversionxl.com/blog/10-google-analytics-reports-tell-site-leaking-money/
- How are each pages on my website performing? Here’s how to identify and fix the problem pages on your website with Google Analytics
- An outline of the necessary steps to identify cinversion probems on your website.
- There are many reasons a website doesn’t convert. Take a look at these top 10 reasons your website is preventing conversions. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/10/20/site-conversions-problems
- The 3-Step Conversion Funnel That Will Revolutionize Your Conversion Optimization. Neil Patel proposes a strategy-driven model that is simple (only three steps), focused (on revenue), and tactical (you can start implementing the method today). https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/revolutionize-your-conversion-optimization/
- A Straightforward Guide to Optimizing Your Funnels for Maximum Conversions. In this article: Where you should start, The most important interaction points to test, The essential elements at those interaction points to test, and different tests you can run.
- Conversion Funnel 101: How to Uncover and Optimize Your Customer Journey. Not sure where to start? Don’t panic. In this post, they’ll walk you through how to attract more shoppers to your conversion funnel, how to better optimize that funnel to boost your bottom line and what to do with those potential shoppers who didn’t convert along the way. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/conversion-rate-optimization-conversion-funnel/
- A breakdown of 9 Common Usability Mistakes In Web Design
- 8 Common Website Problems and How to Fix Them
- Another great take on the top 9 common website problems and how to prevent them.
- This article outlines the common shortcomings of website design projects based on the feedback from clients, project leads, and agency owners. The goal of this article is to outline common issues that arise during the course of a website project, and how to fix them.
Root Cause of Issues:
- Understand the root of your project issues by learning how to implement the 5 Whys method. The method involves brainstorming problem causes, and asking “why did this happen” for each of the causes, until the root cause has been identified. https://open.buffer.com/5-whys-process/
- 7 methods for identifying the root cause of an issue with your project, as well as a way to separate correlation for causality.
- The problem tree method for analysing the causes and consequences of a project problem. This analysis tool helps the project team get a quick glance of how a range of complex issues contribute toward a problem and how this problem branches out into a set of consequences. Both causes and consequences are fitted into the diagram on a hierarchical preference basis. https://www.brighthubpm.com/project-planning/118441-problem-tree-a-comprehensive-analysis-tool/
- In this article, you’ll be walked through the process of cost benefit analysis, and offered insight and tips from industry experts. They’ll shine a light on the risks and uncertainties you should be aware of as you work, and provide real-world examples to show cost benefit analysis in action
Analysis of common kinds of failure
- How to write a problem statement.
- How to write a problem statement for a six sigma project.
- How to frame a problem to your team: define the problem you’re solving, the impact for customers, and the contexts in which it happens.
- How to use problem statements to solve project issues.
- Bottlenecks are often where work processes break down, budgets burst from the added cost of delays, and the whole system becomes unpredictable. Here’s how to remove them.
- Often, removing a bottleneck completely is either impossible or too difficult, expensive, or time-taking. Finding a way to protect an existing bottleneck from getting clogged is often a more convenient option. Here’s how to take control of your bottlenecks and prevent them from creating damage.
- IT is the lifeblood of nearly every company and project. A single point of failure in your IT network can create big problems down the road. Here’s how to find (and eliminate) single points of failure.
- Google analytics for beginners course
- How to Use Google Analytics: A Guide For Absolute Beginners
- 9 Awesome Things You Can Do With Google Analytics 5
- 5 Ways Hotjar Recordings Help You Understand Your Users
- Heat-maps are exactly what their name suggests:
visual representations (maps) of the most clicked, tapped, swiped, and viewed (hot) points of a website page or app. Learn how to get actionable insight from heatmaps, through these 8 quick tests that will give you simple and actionable ways to improve your site pages.
- If you are overwhelmed by Google Analytics or just looking for an alternative that offers heatmaps and shows you how people actually use your website, then you should consider taking a look at Lucky Orange. Here’s what you need to know about it. https://www.cmscritic.com/lucky-orange-an-excellent-alternative-to-google-analytics/
- How to use Google Optimize to run experiments on your site in a Few minutes – a cheaper alternative to A/B tetsing.
- A beginner’s guide to google optimize.
- Another great beginner’s guide to Google Optimize.
2. Scope the solution
Estimating & Understanding the project
- For a quick overview of 5 common methods of project estimation, Liquid Planner’s Kevin Crump’s article is a bit of an oldie but a goodie, giving the basics in a clear and concise manner. Figure out what method seems like a good approach to you and then hit up Google for more info.
- A detailed look at some ways to estimate projects, as well as a good illustration on why you want to make sure that the way you estimate projects is clearly communicated both up and down the chain of command at your org.
- Project charters are documents intended to identify an assigned PM, signify the start of a project, and define key parameters surrounding the project. Get expert tips on writing a project charter.
- Decision making trees are a classic project manager’s tool to understand the risk & expense of various options in a project. Here’s a quick and simple explanation with helpful flowcharts to show you how it’s done.
- Process and tips on how to run a meeting to build and gather consensus for a project. Not everyone who’s in a meeting is necessarily going to be key in launching the project, and this framework lets them voice opinions while not blocking project delivery. https://www.brightwork.com/blog/use-consensus-decision-making-project-management#.WsoAztPwYmJ
- When you’re scoping out the size of a project, it can really help to vizualize it. Instead of the common Gantt chart, check out a PERT chart for an example of a more detailed flowchart that can help uncover opportunities to make your project delivery more efficient https://searchsoftwarequality.techtarget.com/definition/PERT-chart
- Key to determining scope is getting people to estimate just how much work a task or project will be. This handy guide gives you a quick version of how to conduct estimations for any kind of team.
- Mountain Goat is a great resource for Agile tools & processes in general. This article, about a popular estimation method, can be your starting point for dozens more articles that can help you manage projects better. https://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/planning-poker
- Call it story points, buckets, tee shirt sizes….getting estimations out of team members is very hard to do accurately, but this article will hopefully get you started with some ideas to help you the next time you need to conduct a scoping and planning session. Just keep in mind that, as Hiten says in the article, a lot of what goes on in estimates shows that we’re all pretty much guessing. 😛 https://producthabits.com/engineering-estimates/
- The secrets behind making story points and agile estimation as accurate as possible.
- Estimating work effort in agile projects is fundamentally different from traditional methods of estimation. Agile projects, by contrast, use a “top-down” approach, using gross-level estimation techniques on feature sets, then employing progressive elaboration and rolling-wave planning methods to drill down to the task level on a just-in-time basis, iteratively uncovering more and more detail each level down. This paper will elaborate on two common techniques for agile estimation (planning poker and affinity grouping), as well as touch on how the results of these exercises provide input into forecasting schedule and budget.
- How do you estimate on an Agile project? This article explores common approaches and their adaptations from real-world projects
- Estimates are an essential part of Agile Project Planning. Here’s an overview of traditional vs agile project estimation techniques.
- Relative estimation, whatever you end up calling it, can break your team out of the mold of trying to deliver a schedule that they’re afraid you will expect them to stick to as if it were engraved in stone. This article sums up some academic research into the topics in case you wanted a more scholarly read about how to scope projects.
- When you’re scoping out your project, it can help a lot to visualize what is going to be delivered when. Gantt charts have become the industry standard way to do that, so take a look at this article for an overview of what they are and how they work.
- The start of a project is often gathering the requirements. Once you’ve defined the problem, you’re most of the way along to deciding what you want the solution to do. This article gives you a great in-depth read about how to conduct requirements gathering and includes a helpful video as well.
- A simple 8 step guide to running a requirements-gathering meeting, this article is great for new project managers / incidental project managers to get their project scoping off to a solid start and building rapport with project stakeholders from the very beginning.
- It’s hard to scope out a project well if you don’t know what the requirements are; it’s even harder to deliver a good project if you don’t know what you were supposed to deliver.. This article talks about how to bake in a quality control process to your scoping to ensure that your requirements are being not just delivered, but are delivered well.
- A project scope template to help you create a document that will align all of the teams on what your project’s “definition of done” is and prevent scope creep from entering into the project and killing your budget and timetable.
Planning & designing the project
- Looking for a template for a project charter? The Casual PM’s detailed guide includes a few templates and a number of other resources to make sure that you’re comfortable with the process of creating a project charter.
- Another handy resource on writing a project charter, this post comes with a free template and a video overview as well. https://www.projectmanager.com/blog/how-to-create-a-project-charter
- TeamGantt wrote a literal book on this topic, and author Brett Harned has written books on project management in general. If you’re going to read one article on how to build a project plan, make it this one. It’s a long read, but that’s because it’s a big topic.
- A great way to make a short and simple template to build a mission statement for a project. Probably overkill for a 4 week hiring campaign, but if you’re managing a longer project, a mission can help sell the idea internally and externally. https://www.projectconnections.com/articles/082202-decarlo.html
- It’s a truism that every team will tend to deliver what you meter for. Here are 16 different KPIs that you can use to help measure the success and health of a project while it’s underway.
- Breaking project delivery KPis into timeliness, budget, quality, and effectiveness, this article helps you decide what you need to measure in order to achieve your project goals and guides you for further research on how to implement each of them.
- One last article on KPIs, this is an overview with just 4 KPIs you may want to consider, but they’re good ones. ROI, CPI, SPI, and resource capacity.
- Building project scope into your project plan is crucial to keep feature creep from making a neverending project. Clarizan gives some helpful tips on how that can work.
- When you’re launching a project, it’s important to help define the scope by grooming the backlog of tasks that you’re working on, iterating along the way to get feedback, and making sure that what you’re delivering is still something that addresses the core problem you’re trying to solve.
- Scoping a project requires that you establish what a healthy baseline for success looks like. Whether you’re 10% or 80% of the way along your project, measuring it against its baseline gives you a feeing for how you’re progressing along on delivery https://www.uci.ac.cr/global-school-project-management/project-management-baselines-scope-baseline/
- The smart folks at SmartSheets have written up an extensive guide on how to estimate a project’s costs. As part of thinking about the scope of the project, it’s a very handy guide.
- The are a few steps to estimating a project’s scope. Here’s a simple 6-step process you can go through to help you understand how to scope a project from start to finish.
- Part of scoping is acknowledging what “scoping” is and what it isn’t. In some organizations, scoping will include elements like budgeting, hiring concerns, and even employee evaluation. For others, it’s just a statement of what project needs to be considered successful or complete. If you’re of the opinion that your scoping should be as light as possible, it’s worth checking out the idea of #NoEstimate development.
Prototyping & soliciting feedback
- If you’re designing a software project, it can be really handy to start with a wireframe that shows what you want to achieve and how it will work on paper (or on low-resolution online mockups) before you start development. This can help you spot problems with your solution and then fix them while you’re scoping the project, instead of after it’s developed.
- An overview on wireframing tools and how and why to test wireframes. If you’re working on a project with a software element, this is key.
- Whether you’re working on a software project or not, if you’re creating something which is designed for use by people other than you, it’s helpful to create an inexpensive prototype to validate the idea and make sure that what you’re doing to solve your problems will have the desired effect.
- For a survey of methods you can use to conduct a usability survey, this article is a great start. Check it out if you’re new to usability testing as a concept and see what you think could help you and your team deliver a better project.
- If you’re doing your usability testing after you’ve finished your project, you’re done it wrong. Here’s a quick article on why which can help you persuade anyone you need to spend the time and effort to test a project before it’s started.
Prioritizing elements of a project
- Letting the highest paid person’s opinion dictate how you plan your product launch is usually the worst possible way to do it. Here are a few ways to prioritze and plan out the work that you can deliver in a project so that you solve the core problem of your project as quickly as possible.
- An big overview of 20 different project prioritization techniques, this article helps you take individual tasks (or, in Agile vocabulary, ‘stories’) and figure out which ones are most appropriate for your project’s needs. This goes way beyond just software development, so if you’re looking for a mental toolkit to help you understand and solve what to tackle in your next project, check this out.
- No matter the project, no matter the team, if you’re SMART about defining a goal, you’ll increase your chances of finishing your project on time. Read on Workopolis about what that means.
- Setting goals is key to knowing how successful your team has been. Here’s a survey of a few ways to set goals to measure if you’ve successfully completed your team’s project as expected and, as such, if you scoped it correctly from the start.
- Kanban boards can be physical or virtual. Here are 20 different software packages you can use to create a virtual kanban board that you can share across your team, organization, or company.
- If you’ve tried waterfall, tried agile, gone on to kanban, and still don’t think you’ve found the right way to work as a team, check out Jim Coplien’s article about the downsides to what we see as Kanban management, what we should be doing instead, and how to structure a team of true experts at their craft.
- Considering #NoEstimation development or project management in general? Check out what 6 experts have tos ay about the idea to help you make up your own mind. 🙂
Deciding on size
- A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a key part of building a classic PMI-style work scope. If you’re creating a fantastically-complicated project structure, it can really help to visualize parent-child relationships to break down each parcel of work into something more comprehensible and make sure that no one is trying to tackle any task out of order. The WBS helps manage that.
- This quick guide to Work Breakdown Structures comes handy with a free template.
- This article will help you understand what a work breakdown structure is and what it is not, the advantages of using a work breakdown structure, and how to create one. You’ll also learn from the experts on how you can become confident using this powerful and essential product management tool.
- How to Create a Work Breakdown Structure and Why You Should
- A guide and free template on how to Come Up With a Killer Work Breakdown Structure
- When you’re defining scope, one of the key elements is to make sure that you’re properly balancing costs and risks. Here are two quick ideas on how you can manage risk and analyze it while you’re scoping your project.
- Communicating project scope across teams & to stakeholders who are internal and external is hard to do. Here are a few examples of how to do it right. http://pmtips.net/blog-new/communicating-project-scope
- CIO.com writes about how to document & share information when you’ve decided on project scope. Rather IT focused, it’s still applicable across a lot of disciplines if you abstract out the knowledge from the article a little bit.
- Building a project scope statement is a little different than building a charter–it’s often a step or two before you write the whole charter–and here’s how you do just such a thing.
- Writing project scope documents in an Agile environment is pretty different than in Waterfall setups. It’s worth reading this classic (10 year old!) article about how to do it to see that some lessons don’t fade with time http://itsadeliverything.com/agile-project-scope
- Lots of project management tools let you create Gantt charts natively in them, but if you’re not rolling with Asana, Basecamp, GitHub, JIRA, Trello, Microsoft Planner, Wrike, or any of a couple dozen other tools which support this kind of project visualization, here’s how to do it in Excel or Google Sheets, which should be available to anyone who’s got a computer to read this blog post with.
- Gantt charts are all well and good, but they’re pretty top-heavy and reinforce the idea that projects are fixed in duration. A Kanban board lets you look at the project visually with an emphasis more on simply what needs to be done and what has already been completed. Here’s a quick guide on how to set up a kanban board for your next project https://leankit.com/learn/kanban/kanban-board/
- Steps for planning, managing, and minimizing the dreaded project scope creep
What to do when the scope is wrong
- How do you even know if you’ve mis-scoped a project? Here’s a detailed overview on how to troubleshoot scope problems and nip them in the bud before they derail your whole project
- There are basically 3 ways to manage when a project’s scope changes: Say “yes”, say “no”, or say “let’s figure it out.” This article quickly briefs you on the pros and cons of all 3.
- A primer on how to manage scope, how to decide when to change it, and what to do after you’ve decided to make a change to scope.
- When you’ve realized that you messed up the scope of your project, you need to be able to clearly scope the changes. Here’s a article about how to approach the problem to reach a clear result and communicate it clearly.
- Another quick guide to project re-scoping, this one focuses a bit more on specifically software / IT projects with external vendors, which is its own complicated world.
- Project delivery is a mix of time, resources, and scope. Which of these needs to be fixed, and which can be flexible, is key to transitioning your project management to a more agile point of view. Atlassian writes about flipping the ‘Iron Triangle’ of project management planning to get a more agile result.
- For more traditionally-run projects, a change management request form can be key to updating a project’s scope and clarifying what will be delivered after reviewing the progress of the project and deciding to change it. Here’s a handy template that can help you ensure you don’t forget anything key when you change scope.
- Despite your best efforts, you can be halfway into a project and realize that you need to change the scope of it. Usually this happens when you’re running late and need to cut scope to hit a launch window, but there’s other instances where you discover a lot more work than you estimated but still want to ship the whole project. in either case, here’s how you rescope a project.
- So if you’re looking for what might have go well and what might go wrong in your project, here are some common project management mistakes and how to address them for the next time. https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/the-10-most-common-project-management-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them.html
3. Manage Delivery
- A detailed overview of the five phases of the project delivery process.
- The 3 project delivery phases outlined and described in detail.
- The Washington University School of Medicine shares the project delivery process they developed and implemented to serve as a roadmap for successful cost, schedule, and quality performance on projects. A great reference for project managers. https://facilities.med.wustl.edu/planning-construction/project-delivery/project-delivery-tools-and-references/
- How to Manage a Project: A Very Practical Guide to Shipping Projects Relentlessly. This article breaks down a project into steps and works through them.s
- A step by step paper on how to increase project effectiveness
- An explanation of the Disciplined Agile (DA) Framework.
- The Ultimate Project Management Checklist for Faultless Projects
Breaking Down Projects Into Manageable Components
- Three Ways to Break Down a Project into Manageable Tasks: One task per job, One task per deliverable, One task per day, week, or month.
- How to divide a project into manageable tasks.
- How to Set Up a Scrum Meeting Like a Master (Even if You’re New to Agile)
- 5 Scrum Meeting Best Practices: Master the Daily Stand-Up
- 11 Tips for Running An Effective Scrum Meeting
- 7 Common Mistakes to avoid During the Daily Stand-up Meeting https://www.scrumalliance.org/community/articles/2014/july/7-mistakes-during-the-daily-stand-up-meeting
- How to Make Daily Scrum Meetings Really Effective & Efficient
Meeting Effectiveness and Efficiency
- Meetings are a powerful tool that are widely misunderstood. Here you’ll find a short example and data showing just how widespread bad meetings have become, as well as seven habits – the most powerful meeting tips that will set your team up for success.
- Meetings are necessary for groups that work together. However, the activity is often marred by unproductive behavior, mediocre results, and large costs. Simple steps can be taken to increase efficiency and boost employee satisfaction as shown below. https://projectmgmt.brandeis.edu/resources/infographics/improving-efficiency-and-productivity/
- 5 Activities That Transformed the Way We Run All-Hands Meetings
- How to Do All-Hands Meetings Right, via Rocketrip.
Project and Stakeholder Communication
- Research on managing project stakeholder communication, through examining how stakeholder communication is facilitated and managed during the different phases of the project’s life cycle.
- A walk through: Your Communication Strategy Play, Top Communication Skills in Project Management, How Project Managers Successfully Communicate, The Project Manager Sets the Tone.
- Project communications: A plan for getting your message across. Here are some tips to help you better manage key communications channels for your next project. Follow these guidelines to keep your project on time and on track. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/project-communications-a-plan-for-getting-your-message-across/
- What communication means in a project, the steps required for effective communication, the major obstacles in communication, how to overcome obstacles through communication sharing, the importance of communications in diverse work groups, and a four-step process for effective communication explained with a case study.
- An explanation of Stakeholders and Communication Channels.
- Stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management are arguably the most important ingredients for successful project delivery. Here are 10 key principles of stakeholder engagement.
- Product launches are powerful. They can modify the way business is run even if only by a bit. And because of this power, they are often politically charged by stakeholders with different agendas. Here’s how to coordinate them. https://www.appcues.com/blog/the-messy-politics-of-coordinating-product-launches
- A description of a simple method to boost project accountability: The RACI matrix. It is one of the simplest, most effective means for defining and documenting project roles and responsibilities. Knowing exactly who is responsible, who is accountable, who needs to be consulted, and who must be kept informed at every step will significant improve your chances of project success.
- 6 Ways to Build Accountability into a Project.
- The perspective of the project manager is different than that of other team members. Here’s an article about common mistakes that the PM him or herself may make, and ways to ward them off. Even the best PM makes these mistakes sometimes, but it’s handy to use an article like this as a checklist when you’re planning for the week to come to see if you’ve made any of those mistakes in the last week. https://teamweek.com/blog/2017/04/10-mistakes-every-project-manager-makes/
- Here are some best practices for effective velocity tracking. Velocity is a measure of productivity that project managers sometimes use in Agile software development. You calculate the velocity by counting the number of units of work completed in a certain interval, which is determined at the start of the project. The main idea behind velocity is to provide a lightweight methodology for measuring the pace at which a team is working and to assist in estimating the time needed to produce additional value in a software-development project.
- What is a burndown chart? It is a plot of work remaining to reach a given goal on the vertical axis, and time on the horizontal axis. It helps you immediately identify problems and allows you to control them early. Learn how to use it and how to make one in this article.
- Agile: Simple guide to creating a project burn-down chart using excel.
- Burndown chart provides a graphical representation of how work progresses with time. Here’s how to measure performance using this technique.
- What is a burnup chart and why to use one.
- A comprehensive guide to Gantt Charts. Simply put, a Gantt chart is a visual view of tasks scheduled over time. Gantt charts are used for planning projects of all sizes and they are a useful way of showing what work is scheduled to be done on a specific day. They also help you view the start and end dates of a project in one simple view.
- Project Management Basics: Beginner’s Guide to Gantt Charts, including 5 reasons to use them. https://www.wrike.com/blog/project-management-basics-beginners-guide-to-gantt-charts/
- Did you know that 57% of projects fail because of a “breakdown in communications?” Want a gorgeous visual representation of your project’s progress that can help alleviate a host of communications-related issues that could derail your project? Welcome to Gantt charts. Here’s a project manager’s guide to Gantt charts.
- Top 5 Benefits of Using Gantt Charts for Project Management
- How to create a waterfall chart in Google Sheets
- How to create a waterfall chart in Excel
- Another great guide on how to create waterfall charts in excel.
- What the Waterfall Project Management Methodology Can (and Can’t) Do for You
- A comprehensive guide to confidence intervals.
- How to use confidence intervals for six sigma projects.
- One of the constant tensions that product managers deal with on a regular basis is creating product roadmaps that align with the expectations and needs of all of their stakeholders – particularly the management or executive team whose understanding and agreement is essential to executing against the plan presented. Here’s how to Get Organizational Alignment with your Product Roadmap
- 9 Ways to Influence Without Authority
- 10 Great Leadership Skills of Project Management
When it goes wrong: recovering a failing project
- How to do a project pivot and turn failure into success in 3 steps.
- Program Strategy: How to Pivot Your Digital Development Project to Scale and Sustain Beyond the “Valley of Death” https://digitalimpactalliance.org/program-strategy-pivot-project-scale-sustain-beyond-valley-death/
- A detailed pdf guide on strategies for project recovery. http://www.pmsolutions.com/
- If your project’s failing, it’s often due to poor planning in the first place. Here’s how to revisit it from the start to try to fix it up for round 2
- Sometimes you get stuck cleaning up after a failed project. Sometimes it’s your fault the project failed in the first place. What do next is key: here’s a tactical guide that takes you through recovering a dead project. https://blog.capterra.com/4-steps-to-completely-recover-from-project-failure/
- Ten early warning signs that your project is not gonna go the way you’d like it to.
- Has Your Project Gone off Track? 7 Project Recovery Techniques to Get Things Back on Track http://www.dayshaconsulting.com/has-your-project-gone-off-track-7-project-recovery-techniques-to-get-things-back-on-track/
- Inevitably you will encounter a project where you lose control of your time, resources disappear, and the project is completely out of control. Here’s how to get it back on track.
How to close down a failed project
- Admitting project failure is never easy, but sometimes the kill decision turns out to be the best decision. Here’s how to know when to scrap and when to save a failing project.
- Not every project is destined for success. Sometimes, they fail instead. What do you do when things go pear-shaped? Smashing Mag is here to help you out.
- Maybe you’ve just been handed a project and didn’t realize the state it was in. Maybe your team has changed a lot over the delivery of the project. Perhaps this project was just ever quite a priority of the team. Whatever the reason, if you have a sinking feeling that your project is drowning instead of swimming, read this checklist to learn how to end it gracefully: https://programsuccess.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/cancelling-a-failing-project-key-steps/
- Sometimes the project is the whole company. Alex Fishman’s powerful and useful article walks you through the worst outcome of project failure:
- How to do a follow up with agile project management.
- The importance of conducting a follow-up meeting. Sales and building client relations are, or should be, an ongoing process. A follow-up meeting helps to enhance value, fortify trust and cement the relationship. It helps you do a better job next time around. It differentiates you from the other guys whose policy is: Do it, bill it and forget it.
4. Launch the project
Launch Techniques and Advice
- 18 Tips for Planning a Flawless New Product Launch
- How to plan your product launch using the RACE planning framework
- 5 Critical Things You Need to Do During a Project “Post-Launch”
- A step-by-step guide to a successful product launch.
- The Essential Guide to Growing Your Early-Stage SaaS Startup
- Ready for blast off: 5 steps to successfully managing product launches
- How To Profitably Launch ANY Product Or Service.
- 5 Tips for a Successful Product Launch.
- Milestones & Metrics for Product Launch Success.
- Six Secrets of a Winning Product Launch.
- How to Create a Timeline for a Successful Product Launch.
- The essentials of product launch processes.
- How to Develop and Implement a Successful Data Product Launch Plan.
- 3 Product Launch Campaigns And Their Strategies.
- The Pro Marketer’s Product Launch Checklist for 2018 – Whiteboard Friday
Team and Company Alignment
- Before you can execute a new strategy, you have to align your team around this new direction. Here are a few ways to get everyone onboard.
- Launching a new B2B product impacts the majority of departments within a company. The sales team is responsible for selling it to potential buyers, the customer support team helps new and current clients successfully implement it, and the marketing and public relations team promotes it in the marketplace. In a healthy company these departments work together. Here’s how to unite your teams for a super B2B Product Launch Plan.
Marketing and Promotion
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Get Your Content Marketing Program Off the Ground http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/03/workbook-content-marketing-program/
- The Creative’s Guide to Launching a Project on Social Media: How to reach new audiences and gain support for your work on social. 5 Critical Things You Need to Do During a Project “Post-Launch”.
- Project management in marketing the key to successful product launch.
- 20 Inexpensive Ways to Successfully Promote Your Product Launch
- 7 Social Marketing Tactics To Launch A Product
- 5 Inexpensive Ways To Promote A Product Launch
- Product Marketing Strategy: 57 Experts Discuss Key Pillars for Success.
- Product Marketing 101: Templates, Strategies, and Examples.
- 11 Ways to Create Hype Around a New Launch.
- Why Every Project Needs a Brand (and How to Create One). Project leaders who embrace a brand mindset will be in a stronger position to achieve their goals and deliver on the organization’s business strategy.
- 23 Ways to Build Colossal Pre-Launch Product Buzz.
- 10 tactics for launching on social media and generating buzz, inspired by companies who’ve done it [with free templates]. https://www.canva.com/learn/10-tactics-for-launching-a-product-using-social-media/
- How to Use Social Media to Hype Your Product Pre-Launch.
- The Ultimate Influencer Marketing Guide.
- Top 8 Influencer Marketing Trends for 2018: Influencer marketing is going to continue to be a driving force for brands looking to grow their audience and improve sales through social media in 2018. The question is, what can you do to get the most out of influencer marketing this year? Will the same tactics from 2017 pay off in 2018?
- How to Write a Press Release for a Product.
- Elements of a Good Press Release.
- Top 30 Press Release Distribution Tips for Maximum Exposure.
- How To Write A Press Release With Free Template.
- Site Launch Project: 27 Things to Do Before You Go Live. The ultimate checklist for testing a new website — from URLs to call-to-actions. https://www.link-assistant.com/news/website-launch-checklist.html
- How to perform site audits: deliverables, follow up, and implementation
- How to launch an effective landing page for your project
- 6 foolproof ways to get your startup its first 100 customers.
- 21 Customer Acquisition Strategies to Win New Customers: Figuring out how to acquire new customers is difficult. I’ve spend the past few years working with all kinds of different businesses across a range of industries to help them figure this out. Now I’m going to share a whole host of tactics that you can try out yourself to add more to your bottom line. https://www.matthewbarby.com/customer-acquisition-strategies/
- Keep Everyone in the Loop with an Internal Product Release Blog: How to share your product releases effectively to serve your teams, your stakeholders, and your future self.
- How to design a successful internal launch.
- 8 internal comms ideas your employees will love (and actually read). When you’re the person charged with getting people to hear, see and remember your message in all that noise, competition is tough. But what about when the message is an internal business one? How can you make an impact when budgets are tight and the audience is, at times, rather less interested than they should be? We’ve looked at some successful marketing campaigns – both external viral campaigns and powerful internal campaigns – to compile 8 innovative internal comms ideas that will make your employees sit up, and take notice.
Launch Parties And Events
- How to Plan a Product-Launch Event: Your product isn’t the next iPhone. So what? Throwing a stand-out event can generate tons of buzz anyway.
- Tips for organising a spectacular business launch party.
- “Creators have asked us about building and engaging their communities, championing through the “plateau” phase, how they can create rewards that’ll excite backers, and more. Below, we’ve answered these questions and more with pointed advice and links to our best and most relevant resources that tackle those questions. Find the questions that have been on your mind and then read, click, and download to get the answers you need to take your project to the next step.”
- Step-by-Step Guide to Launching a Successful Kickstarter campaign
Launching With No Budget
- How to Launch a Product With No Money and No Customers.
- Four steps and strategies to have a 7-figure launch without a budget or a list.
- How to Recover From a Failed Product Launch.
- How to Bounce Back When Your Product Launch is a Disaster
- 7 Reasons Why A Great Product Launch Can Fail and How To Avoid It: It’s reported that 70% of all new product launches fail in the first year. The question is, why do some succeed when. others fail? Having seen both sides of the product launch picture, here are a few pitfalls to watch out for.
- If you don’t have the right KPIs and your employees are not informed, your product will most likely fail. Here’s how to avoid this. https://www.business.com/articles/why-your-product-will-fail/
- From Pragmatic Marketing, an article about some other common missteps in scheduling and launching projects. https://pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/articles/10-common-project-management-mistakes
Measuring Launch Success
- How to Measure Product Launch Success. https://community.uservoice.com/blog/measure-product-launch-success/
Website Redesign Projects: Key Metrics to Track from Day 1
- Launching a New Website: 18 Steps to Successful Metrics & Marketing.
- Seven Metrics to Save Your Ecommerce Replatforming Project.
- 7 Steps to Measuring the Success of a Feature.
- How to measure the success of your product features?
- How would you measure the success or failure of a product feature? https://medium.com/stellarpeers/how-would-you-measure-the-success-or-failure-of-a-product-feature-24f9d0b6f9e7
5. Wrap it up
- What’s a retrospective? Why should you run one? What’s a quick page you can share around that explains this to your team? Here’s a handy (and short!) guide to what a project retrospective is so you’re able to get your team up to speed on what it is and why you’d like to conduct one.
- 7 steps to a simple retrospective. If you’re new to running a project retrospective, here’s a good start that will help you feel confident about what you’re doing and assist your team in staying positive as they go through the process
- It may not shock you, but there are a number of ways to conduct retrospectives. If you’re running an Agile team, they’re likely familiar with one of these, but it’s often valuable to mix up your retrospective process every few projects so that things stay fresh. https://backlog.com/blog/three-ways-run-productive-retrospective/
- In the spirit of keeping retrospectives fresh, you can read about the “Star Fish” method or the “Five Whys” method of retrospectives here. For larger organizations, you can even read about how to conduct a retrospective of retrospectives for when you’ve already had team-focused retrospectives and now you want to see what high level conclusions you can draw from them. https://blog.versionone.com/valuable-agile-retrospectives-how-to-do-them/
- Literally an entire website devoted to fun retrospectives.
- A step-by-step walkthrough of using Trello to conduct a retrospective for your team
- If you’re looking for a tool to use to help you through your next sprint retrospective, this article has you set with 25 tools you can try out and use in restrospectives for distributed–or co-located–teams.
Applying lessons learned
- Once you’ve conducted a project retro, what’s next? Here are some steps you can apply to your team or even across your organization to https://www.benlinders.com/2018/improve-software-quality-with-retrospectives/
- Here’s a quick podcast on how to use retrospectives to help your organization change and better itself by applying the lessons learned, re-enforcing what’s good, and celebrating wins together.
- A short primer on strategy for making sure that your retrospectives actually do lead to change in your team.
A retrospective can lead to change in a number of ways. This in-depth article covers most of them and gives you a great resource to spur your own thinking about how to apply the lessons learned and reinforce what your team did well.
Applying what you’ve learned from retrospectives can take a shift in your company’s approach to culture. This article covers 10 steps which can help make that happen for your team.
When you’re getting feedback from your team about what your project succeeded and failed at, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that everyone wants the best for the company as a whole. Here’s our article about how to take constructive criticism well. https://unito.io/blog/how-to-take-constructive-criticism-well-and-why-leaders-should-embrace-it/
- A template for documenting lessons learned at the end of a project
Larger team reviews of a project
- When you have a very large team, or a distributed team, you need to find alternative ways to run a retrospective. This article tackles how to hold retrospective games at scale to find trends in data to help identify easy wins to make improvements in a teams’ organizational efficiency.
- Conducting retrospectives at the sprint or team level is pretty common. When’s the last time you conducted an organizational-level retrospective? What do you think your company might learn if they conducted one? Less.works talks about how to organize and conduct retrospectives of all kinds and put them into an organizational improvement backlog.
Another example of a pretty big retrospective (65 people), this one shows you how Spotify conducted their retro in a step by step basis and includes thoughts for improvement and next steps in both the company and in the process of this retrospective. Getting this kind of report on a big, successful company’s development process can help you understand what to expect and how to conduct your own, regardless of the size.
Measuring success of your project
- When your project is finished, if you’ve created a product or a service that someone will use, it’s handy to measure their satisfaction with it. Here’s a detailed look at how to construct a user survey to ask people a number of questions and find out what it is that they like and dislike about it. This is key to see if you delivered what you wanted to when set out on your new project.
- An in-depth article about how to conduct user research surveys to see what needs addressing in a product or project. In-depth and detailed, it gives you all information to need to run surveys on your user base when you’ve wrapped up a project. https://growandconvert.com/marketing/conduct-user-research-learnings/
- After a project is finished, after the team retrospective, after all of the study and decisions about what to do differently next time, it’s time to conduct a personal retrospective and see what you think you could have done better yourself. Here’s how to conduct a simple personal retro and get the most out of a period of personal reflection.
- Congrats! Your project is done–or is it? A common practice in Agile teams is to declare a “Definition of Done” to make it clear when something is finished vs. when someone has finshed with their part of it. While this is often used in development practices, you can apply this same thinking to nearly any team: recruiting is not ‘done’ until the new hire has onboarded; a sales project is not ‘done’ until the money has been deposite into the bank, and so on. This article helps you reach a good definition of done for your project.
Defining “done” in scrum teams is a crucial piece of implied work for every task in your project. Here’s another example of how you can create a collaborative definition of done with your team so you can all agree on when a task is finished and people are ready to move onto the next one.
Finishing a project
- You’re in the home stretch of your project and you’ve realized that you need to organize 1,122 files so that the next person who wants access to the source elements you worked on can find stuff. Gulp. What do you do? Read this article and apply it to your files to help others navigate
- A different approach more suited to handing off project files at the end of a consulting gig, here’s another way to organize and prep your project for archiving so you can find what you were looking for a year later when you want to see why you made a decision that you did. http://www.killerconsultant.com/archive/consulting101/organizing-project-data-files-and-folders/
- Orient your teams as a project wraps up so they’re aware of what’s happening next.
- PMI-trained project managers tend to treat project wrap up as a minor task. Here’s why this is a mistake:
- It’s important to share what you’ve learned after you’ve gone through all of the effort of finishing a project and conducting your retrospective. Here’s a article on how to package up and share lessons learned across teams. https://www.strategyex.co.uk/blog/pmoperspectives/five-ways-for-project-managers-to-share-lessons-learned/
- Seeing the project as a whole can help you figure out how to close it well.
- How do you hand a project off from “something which needs to be done” to “something which is in daily use”? Here’s a handy article about how that can work.
- Sometimes you need to hand off a project that you’ve been managing to someone else while it’s still underway. A simple process like the one detailed here can help you transition things smoothly
Keeping teams from burning out
- Just because you’ve finished a project doesn’t mean that there’s no stress in your life or in your teams’ lives. Take a breather, read this article, and think about how you might want to prevent burnout in your office to keep everyone refreshed for the next big thing.
- NYT bestselling book “Barking up the wrong tree” talks about root causes of burnout and how to prevent them. As you get ready to transition from one project to another, it’s worth thinking about what Eric Barker has to say in this article about burnout and you.
- Keep your IT teams from burning out on the next project:
- Mental exercises to defeat stress & burnout.
- An inspirational read about the difficulty of actually finishing projects and the importance of doing it anyway. https://foundr.com/finishing-the-project/
What to do in between projects
- All too often, a project wraps up, you’ve conducted your retrospective, and then you’re on your own for a few crucial days to document lessons learned, put a bow on the project, and get ready for the next hot thing. How can you keep motivated when you’re on your own after working with a team to deliver a project? Here are some ideas.
- Taking a moment to catch your breath when you’re between projects is great; once you’ve had a few days, here’s how to add value while you look for your next big project.
- Lifehacker presents an article on how to transition between projects without losing your groove.
- As you jump between projects, you’ve got a chance to bring fresh creativity and inspiration to the next thing you do. This article talks about how to bring creativity while hopping around projects in the same day, but it applies as well on a monthly or yearly switch up.
- Especially if you work alone at home, it can be hard to keep up the energy after a project has finished. Here are quick tips to keep you on task and focused as you bring the last stages of a project to completion after the team is finished.
- You’ve finished your project. Congratulations! Now what? Surely there’s something to do? Lifehack has some suggestions for what to do after “done”.
- The 4 things you must do when you’ve finished your project before you can really call it quits and hang up your project manager hat. https://www.quickbase.com/blog/four-steps-you-must-take-when-closing-your-project
Celebrating company & team wins
- When it’s all done and you’ve made the stakeholders happy, it’s time to celebrate! Here are more than a dozen fun ways to celebrate your team’s project completion together.
- Too many companies don’t take the time to celebrate the wins: a project finishes, a new product launches. and so on. Here’s a handy article about how to make sure that you build a culture that celebrates wins in your team and how that can improve delivery and focus.
- If words aren’t your strength, you may find this handy resource of some email templates to help you thank employees helpful. Just make sure you customize them a bit or else people will catch on super quickly that you’re copy pasting a template. 🙂
- It’s easy to only think to thank team members who pulled through in the clutch as you wrap up a project, but this handy guide gives you some different perspectives on how to handle thanking people for things other than, “worked 18 hours a day to finish on time”.
- With remote teams it can be hard to celebrate team wins like finishing a project, but there are ways to celebrate even when you’re not all in the same space.
- If your team has a good track record, it can be easy to make project celebrations a perfunctory “have a donut” kind of celebration. Mix it up with some other ideas!
- Build a culture of gratitude in your team; you don’t have to wait until the end of a project to use the power of appreciation to help unite team members together. Make use of it throughout a project with ideas from this article.
How to handle team changes at the end of a project
- When a project ends, it’s often the case that the team will be changed; new team members will be added, some may be removed. Here are steps on how to manage the change that your team is going through so that the rest of your team stays on task and focused on the next project at hand.
- While it’s generally in a team’s best interests to have say in what kind of changes are being made in the team makeup, it’s crucial that the manager in charge of the team have her hands on the steering wheel overall to help manage team transitions.
- There are definite reasons to break up a team after a project–the next project that you’ll tackle will have a different scope, maybe you want to give different teams a chance to rotate through different areas of responsibility, and so on–but there are tonnes of benefits to being part of teach which has worked together for years. If you don’t have to change (or add) team members for your next project, here’s a good reason not to.
- If your team gets along well, changing the makeup can be a bonus to productivity or a massive pull to it. Here are some ways to prepare the team for how to onboard and deal with new team members.
- Bringing new team members into your project team can be a daunting task for both you and for the new team member. One thing which can make it a little easier for everyone concerned is to write a user manual for both yourself and for your team, documenting how people can work with you & what your team’s assumed cultural practices are (such as: who to go to when you have questions, preferred communication channels for different types of messages, etc.).
- When you’re onboarding and building up a new team, there are some tried and true steps to getting everyone up and operational before you move on to the next project. Here are a few suggestions.
- And as you onboard a new team member, following this simple checklist will help them begin the next project (once you’ve defined the project and scoped it out–check back in Section I and II of this post!) on the right foot.
- One of the best ways to help your team through an organizational change is to talk to them, but here are 8 ways to help beyond that.
- Another list to make sure you’re communicating well when you talk to your team about why it’s changing and how.
Ideas for the next project
- You’ve wrapped up your project and now you wanna find the next thing that you need to tackle at your organization. But what should it be? Check out these idea-generators and see if they help kick start your creative juices before you start back on Section I of this article to begin the process anew. 🙂
- While this article is more about finding ideas for an actual business, they’re also great strategies for you to think about how to find the next opportunity to improve the business that you’re working at right now.
- Sometimes working as hard as you can on your own you just seem to be stuck with no great ideas. Here’s a simple grouping of strategies for how to brainstorm a cool idea for a product or project.
- If those 3 ideas for how to brainstorm a product or project idea don’t do it, here are 6 more!
- If you want to get ideas from your whole team, you need a structured way to lead a brainstorm. Here are a few ways to run an awesome team brainstorm session.
- More detail about how to run a brainstorming session. If the previous article got you started and you’re looking to take your team brainstorms to the next level, check this one out, too.
- You’ve made it all the way to the end of our 300 tips to project management mastery! Check out this most important link of all as a reward for making it this far