Tag Archives: prioritize

Good Project Management Practices

I find myself working as a project manager, or a program management consultant more frequently in the last few years. As would be expected by those reading the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog, my project management views are based on the management improvement principles I have discussed here for over 20 years.

This post is in the style of my Good Process Improvement Practices and Practical Ways to Respect People posts.

Good project management practices include

  • Deliver a working solution quickly; add value as you have time. Don’t aim to deliver a final product by the deadline and risk missing the deadline. Deliver a good solution early, adjust based on feedback and add more as you have time.
  • Prioritize – do fewer things, and do them well.
  • Limit work in process (WIP) – finish tasks, avoid the problems created by splitting attention across numerous tasks.
  • Consider the long term from the start – build solutions that allow iteration and continual improvement. An initially very good solution that is difficult to adapt as desires change is not a good solution.
  • Grow the capability of the organization while making progress on projects.
  • Use data wisely (data can be extremely valuable and should be used much more, but it must be used with a critical eye).
  • Use retrospectives during the project and at the end of the project to continually improve the process of managing the project (and the capability of the organization to manage projects overall).
  • Practice respect for people
  • Coach people on good management improvement practices as those opportunities present themselves as the project moves forward. This will let them be more effective on the project and also build the capability of the organization for the long term. Don’t just “trust” people to succeed without giving them the proper training, coaching and authority.
  • Select the right people for the project – the decision makers and those working on the project need to include those most knowledgeable about end users for the what the project will deliver. Those involved also need to have the right knowledge, personality, skill and roles in the organization.


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Keeping Track of Improvement Opportunities

The Priority Trap [the broken link was removed – long term reliability of the web page links isn’t a priority I guess] by Dan Markovitz makes some good points:

But if it’s not important enough to make the short list, then give yourself license to dump it. Maybe it’s something you would do if you had more time, or more energy, or if your mother would notice — but since you don’t have that time, and since you don’t have to tell your mother everything, be realistic and drop it.

I agree. It inspired me to write some of my thoughts on this area. I find prioritization important. Often deciding you will not do something (and not waste time and energy on things you won’t ever do) is the biggest step toward focusing on the most important items. Focusing on important, whether urgent or not, tasks often requires avoid seemingly urgent – but in comparison unimportant tasks.

However, I like the idea of keeping a list of items that are pretty low on the priority list for several reasons. Sometimes they can be incorporated in another project without much effort (they are not worth doing on their own but while doing something else it can make sense. With a visible list (wiki technology is good for this) everyone can know what has been thought of and given low priority – they might be sparked by an idea either to give reasons why that should be a higher priority or as in brainstorming to propose another idea… You can look at the list when thinking about a redesign and incorporate whatever might make sense.

When staff have little blocks of time items can be assigned for them to work on (often serving double duty – getting the job done and serving to provide a task that provides some employee development…) – these tasks often may not be picked because of priority but a combination of priority, educational lessons and available time, skills…
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Five Pragmatic Practices

Becoming a Great Manager: Five Pragmatic Practices by Esther Derby [the broken link was removed]

1) Decide What To Do and What Not To Do

Deciding what to do and what not to do helps focus efforts on the important work – work that will contribute to the bottom line of the company. Articulating a mission has another benefit: When everyone in your group knows the mission and how the work they do contributes to it, they will be able to make better decisions about their own work every day.

2) Limit Multitasking
3) Keep People Informed
4) Provide Feedback
5) Develop People

I don’t see these as new ideas that have not been discussed before. But this article does a nice job of covering some good ideas. Taking the time to read this article can help remind you of some good practices you may neglect.