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The Sensible Project Manager

The Sensible Project Manager

The Sensible Project Manager is the PM that always looks for the practical way to lead a project to success.  Rather than discussing the mechanics of a project which will lead to a successful project, I would like to discuss something that I feel is of more value to you as a project manager.  I believe there are four key concepts which will help a project manager become a Sensible Project Manager.

Project Vision

The Sensible Project Manager needs to understand the vision of the project.  Take the time to understand the business need for which the project was initiated.  Without understanding the end goal and the value the customer will gain by the successful completion of the project, how will you know if the project is a winner?

Think of yourself as a runner.  If you don’t know whether the race is a marathon or a 100 yard dash, you won’t be successful because you will have to guess when you have reached the finish line.  The runner’s tactics for a marathon is much different than that of a 100 yard dash.

Be clear about the vision and goal of your project!


The Sensible Project Manager will build a team which will take ownership in the project to deliver increased value to the customer.  It takes soft skills and leadership to foster a unified team, but when successful, great things happen.   Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives.  It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

I have found that a team is most effective when they understand the project vision and can gain a passion for the solution and take ownership in delivering that solution.  The French writer and pioneering aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

A team that takes ownership in the project who understands the vision will deliver uncommon results.

Effective Efficiency

I hate wasting time and I especially hate wasting other people’s time.  Often the processes that are used on projects are a big waste of everybody’s time.  The Sensible Project Manager will look for ways to increase efficiency of the team members while being effective in meeting the goals of the project.  Here are a few ways a project manager can help increase efficiency on a project.

  • Project Plan – Build an effective yet efficient project plan.  Don’t have tasks that are unnecessary, instead include only tasks which will deliver the scope of the project, and only the scope.
  • Communication – Be clear on your communication plan.  I find that a good responsibility matrix (RACI matrix) goes a long way.
  • Reporting – In conjunction with a good communication plan, it is important to communicate status effectively.  Make sure you report status to all stakeholders at the level they need it, but be efficient with your reporting.
  • Improve efficiency – Always look for opportunities to increase efficiency while being effective.

Deliver Value

We all know a project is measured by successfully delivering the scope on time and within budget.  I believe the true measurement is successfully delivering value to the business or customer.  Value encompasses all three of these components: scope, schedule, and cost (as well as quality).

At the initiation of a project the business value should be identified, thus providing the justification for the project.  For example, the customer might want to implement a new database to track leads for their sales team.  They have projected that sales will increase by $500K per year at an initial cost of $100K and it must be delivered within 4 months to make it for next year’s sales pipeline.  The value to the customer will not be realized if it is not delivered on time and has the functionally needed.  Additionally, the value will be eroded if the cost to implement is greater than expected.

The Sensible Project Manager will understand that the project delivers value to the customer, and it is his responsibility to make sure the project delivers that value.

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