Project Management for Beginners: 5 Actionable Tips

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It was my first week as project manager. I still remember myself looking online for project management tips for beginners that I could use inmediately in my day to day activities.

On this post, I share with you 5 project management tips that I would give to myself if I have a time machine that brings me back to the days when I was a new project manager.

Actionable project management tips for beginners:

Here I go! This is the list of tips.

  • Quick organize a workshop with your team
  • Create a product oriented work breakdown structure
  • Write down the business objectives and the deliverables objectives
  • Have a lunch with your project sponsor or business owner
  • Put on paper how you plan to manage the project

1. Organize a workshop with your team

The team is your main asset specially if they already have experience working together,

Therefore, one of the first things you have to do is to create the connection with your team. The organization of a workshop is a great way to do this.

In general, what I do during the workshop is to ask the team to do these 3 activities:

  • Review their team vision statement (or create one)
  • Express their perception of the reallity doing a SWOT analysis
  • Do a retrospective

These activities help me to know how the team see them selves, how they see the environment and how they work.

This first workshop is a great team building moment, so focus more on letting the team to talk than in the content produced.

Give a look to my post how to run agile retrospectives with design thinking if you need an example of a workshop outline.

2. Create a product oriented work breakdown structure

Doesn’t matter waterfall or agile, decompose your project in deliverables or products is a must.

The work breakdown structure will give to everybody a view of WHAT you will deliver.

Please, don’t use the work breakdown structure to communicate WHEN or HOW. You will do this later.

I give you a concrete example of a WBS in my post product oriented work breakdown structure.

how to create a product oriented work breakdown structure

3. Write down the business objectives and the deliverables objectives

The objectives on paper are a great communication tool to ensure you get aligned with your stakeholders

Also, written objectives help the team to understand how their effort contribute to the organisation goals.

Important! There is no need to write huge documentation here. One or two page document or slides are more than enough to start. Keep it simple and share it.

4. Have a first lunch with your project’s sponsor or business owner

As you did with the team: there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

Consider for a moment your sponsor or business owner as one of your main clients:

  • Which are her expectations for the project?
  • What is she expecting from you?
  • Her idea of what is a well managed project?
  • What she think is her role?

Try to know as much as you can of this key stakeholder and write this down. Specially how you agreed to communicate and manage the project together.

5. Put on paper how you will manage the project

If you have put in practice the previous four project management tips for beginners, now you have enough elements to start writing your project management plan.

Consider your project management plan as you meeting notes in which the agreement you made with your team, sponsor, business owner and other stakeholders you interacted with.

For example:

  • Sponsor: we agreed to have a meeting the first Friday of the month
  • Team: we agreed to run sprints of 2 weeks and appoint Bob as SCRUM master
  • Architects: we agreed to meet after the closures to review the work breakdown structure
  • Etc

It is OK if at the beginning your project management plan is a one or two page document. During the execution of the project you will enrich your plan. Once again: keep it simple!

Final thoughts: project management for beginners

Learning by doing!

These 5 project management tips for beginners help you to get better insights about:

  • What you have to do
  • How you will doing
  • With who you will work

This 3 elements are key but there is still more. No worries about.

Here you have two final extra tips:

  • Have the continuous improvement mindset. Start good enough and ask the team for improvements
  • Do not stop learning. Whether by reading books, watching videos or attending to trainings, profit of the experience of others and start to experiment with new ways of working

Don’t hesitate to contact me or leaving a comment about what you think a new project manager must star doing.