Five Key Principles

No matter the situation, there is a common set of principles that you can apply to better manage any project where there are significant differences in the composition of the team. The differences can include location, business function, or cultural aspects. Let's take a look at the five fundamental principles that will guide our efforts in any of these situations:

  1. It's the same, but more The first principle is to understand is that it does not take additional or new management techniques to be effective at leading these types of projects. These project situations just place more emphasis and importance on the project management fundamentals we have reviewed in earlier chapters. In particular, these aspects of project management become essential:

    • Well-defined and properly planned project
    • Effective project sponsorship
    • Buy-in and commitment on success criteria
    • Well-managed expectations
    • Clear roles and responsibilities
    • Effective communications
    • Effective risk management


    These project environments can, and usually do, create risks around work productivity and communication effectiveness, since there is often a greater chance for misunderstandings.


    In addition, the discipline to properly document plans, meeting minutes, decisions, and issues is generally more important due to the need to ensure proper and clear communications.

  2. The right leadership approach The best project leaders in these situations are ones who possess the right mix of communication, facilitative, interpersonal, and expectation management skills to accomplish the following:

    • Instill confidence in the stakeholders that he/she can lead them to the accomplishment of the project objectives

      A servant leadership approach is often most effective for these types of projects. See our discussion of servant leadership in Chapter 16, "Leading a Project."

    • Take the perspective of each stakeholder group to ensure each group believes they are included, understood, valued, and "heard" in the project process
    • Create alignment around the project goals and concentrates the team's focus on what unifies them (the common ground)
    • Help each stakeholder group understand how their piece (work process, interests, and needs) fits into the overall puzzle
    • Takes flexible approach by maintaining focus on the major project priorities and an understanding that everything else is just a means for getting there
  3. Communication is king As we reviewed in Chapter 17, "Managing Project Communications," effective project communications are bedrock aspect of project management. Specifically, in these types of project situations, here are the key points to keep in mind:

    • Use communication mechanisms that are accessible to everyone.
    • Develop a project vocabulary. Be willing to use their terms and terms they understand. Be mindful of any confusion over terminology being used.
    • Plan on frequent touchpoints to compensate for the lack of face time, especially in virtual project team settings.
    • Document project communications, especially anything discussed verbally, to ensure mutual understanding and agreement.
    • Ensure each team member is clear on the following at all times:

      • Project context
      • Project goals
      • Team members' roles and responsibilities
      • Team members' assignments
      • Project schedule
      • Chain of command and reporting relationships
  4. Verify understanding In these project situations, more time will be needed to verify that you are being understood and that you (your team) accurately understood the other stakeholders. A few specific things to be mindful of:

    • Be wary of any assumptions
    • Ask the extra question to make sure
    • Establish and clarify team norms and procedures
    • Explain project processes and the value it serves
    • The larger the project, the more effort to get through requirements definition and review cycles
    • Requirements gathering needs to use multiple methods to ensure completeness and understanding
    • Take the time to walk through their current processes
  5. More project management effort This is somewhat implied by the first principle in this list, but it is important to understand that the project management component of these type of environments is more significant (as a rule). There can be a misperception that the effort to leverage these latest technologies and business trends to gain efficiency and to accomplish projects faster also means less project management effort. Incorrect. The effort to lead, facilitate, ensure understanding, and build teamwork in these situations is at least equal, and in most cases much greater, than the effort to do the same with a collocated team.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169 © 2008-2020.
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