In an effort to change things up from the usual list of things to do, I thought it would be just as valuable to make note of what not to do. Print out this list or bookmark it and keep it handy. The format should make it is easy to look over on a regular basis during all phases of a project to make sure you’re not falling into any bad habits.
Don’t lose focus. It is very easy to be motivated when starting a new project. It is not so easy to maintain that same vigor and energy a few months into it. Become a good finisher, not just a good starter.
Don’t rush in. Remember, the sooner you start, the later you finish. Improper planning costs you big throughout the life of a project. Don’t succumb to pressure to just start cranking away without following basic project management methodologies.
Don’t always say yes. Trying to include all of the functionality up front is a recipe for cooking up an over-budget and over-the-deadline project with a side order of negative ROI. Learn to be selective. It is an art, and one that you will get better at with time. Show the project sponsor the critical components that need to be included, and let them know why you wish to exclude the non-essentials. It is usually the seemingly small non-essentials that can cost you the most time and money.
Don’t take sides in a political battle. Stay neutral. ‘Nuff said.
Don’t forget to communicate. If communication is not your strong point, find someone on the project team who is good at it. If you usually get knee-deep in the technical aspects of the project, it is easy to ignore the communication issues. Make sure you or someone you trust is keeping the right people informed.
Don’t put the wrong people in the wrong roles. An apple is still an apple, even if you color it orange and put a Sunkist sticker on it.
Don’t let any one individual on the team burn out. We all have to put in late hours here or there, but don’t let anyone continue to do so for an extended time without taking a break. It’s just not healthy.
Don’t make up excuses. If you made a mistake (which we all do), admit it and fix it.
Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
Don’t ignore problems. Prevent small problems from becoming large ones. Ignoring them will come back to haunt you.
Don’t forget to keep the big picture in mind. There is a delicate balance between processes and resources that we must maintain. It is our job to ensure that things come together at the right time and for the greater purpose of the project.
Don’t forget about your team. Remember to keep them motivated and informed.
Don’t take all the credit. As Harry Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”