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5 Project Management Principles & How To Use Them

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Architect in yellow hard had and vest

Traditionally, project management is centered on quality, resources, and time.

However, with complex and daunting undertakings and project objectives tackled by project managers, project management problems can be complex for some.

Scope, time, quality, and budget are the primary constraints. The secondary—and more ambitious—challenge is to optimize the allocation of required inputs and integrate them to meet predefined targets.

To better grasp your milestones as a project manager, you must keep in mind the following principles. These principles will be essential assets when charting a path to completion for your next successful project.

1. Success Principle

Keeping the project on track and on budget is not enough. Many projects have been completed on time and on budget, but the goal was never fully realized.

As a project manager, your goal is to see the project through to completion. However, committing to its success is equally essential even before you begin managing a project.

2. Commitment Principle

Are you committed to completing the project? You better be! But so must every other person involved in the project. This commitment is essential even before the project is planned, let alone executed.

We define commitment using the SMART paradigm (specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic, time-bound). Once you've obtained these, you're ready to get to work.

3. Structure Principle

What may seem obvious, establishing structure within your project helps define the undertaking you would need to lead to its structure. Creating a timeline that is broken up by milestones represents a decisive path for you during a project.

Milestones help define specific phases of your project and the associated costs and outcomes. However, it's easier said than done, with many voices offering differing opinions on the project. Your job as project manager is to clarify what the project is about, what roadmap you should take, and how your goal can be met.

4. Transparency Principle

When we mean transparency, you must report on the progress at each stage or level the project is in. You don't have to prepare every minutia about the project; save those details for your team. It is all about the broad strokes.

And yes, you must be transparent with your team too. Customize overview between the two demographics, addressing and reporting costs, timeline, and achieved milestones.

5. Risk Principle

Risk is a part of life, and it is inevitable in any project. Determine the potential risks inherent in the work ahead of you before the project begins. Of course, identifying them is not an exact science, but you can use historical data and knowledge from you, your team, and your sponsors to determine where risk exists.

It is not enough to recognize that risk may arise at a certain point in a project; you must also devise a strategy and resiliency when resolving the issue before it becomes a problem. Hopefully, you'll have at least identified the big ones. The sooner you identify those risks, whether it is expected or not, the sooner you can get you and your teams back on track.

Even if you aren't a visionary, your skillset, expertise, and instincts to act fast and productively are valuable qualities you can offer to your teams and project.

EXTRA (and most important) Culture Principle

It is necessary to establish a culture that supports the needs of all persons engaged for a project to be successful.

A supportive workplace will result in a project team that will perform more effectively. As a project manager, you must be mindful of this dynamic and ensure that management supports it at all levels. In this scenario, attitude is substantial, so make sure your management style is appropriate for the project.

This is also a great opportunity for you to help identify the appropriate team members for the project. Make sure they are rewarded when they do a good job. Everyone likes acknowledgment.

Your next steps

Have you thought about how you perform against each of the principles we mentioned?

As project managers, we lead the team and bring the project to a successful conclusion. If you don't step up and take the initiative to act as a leader, you only risk being viewed as an administrator.

At JCVA, we cultivate a culture of future leaders and utilize each of our project managers' unique skillsets in their projects. We do our best to make sure every part is operating as optimally as possible.

Our principle is about breaking down silos of all kinds and recognizing our project managers as the stronghold that carries everything together. Systems thinking, design thinking, and seeing the business as a holistic enterprise are our main compasses to building better businesses.


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