Project Management Best Practices

Project Success is being On Time, On Brief and On Budget

I’ve been running web design, development and marketing projects for close to 20 years now and have seen my fair share of terrible situations where I ended up beating myself up for allowing it to happen. I’m hoping all project managers out there don’t screw up your own projects and hence putting down some of the Project Management Best Practices from my own experience in short point form style for the benefit of you Project Managers out there.

Projects

Projects are constrained under defined SCHEDULE, SCOPEand COST. Project Managers are then expected to deliver projects on TIME, on BRIEF and on BUDGET while ensuring highest QUALITY.

On Time, On Brief, On Budget

These are some simple yet at times easy to overlook hard skills a Project Manager needs to have.

On Time

1. Have a USEFUL Project Schedule

  • Detail enough & clearly states who, what and when
  • Realistic timings that are checked with the team that are actually doing the work
  • Time costed for and turn around time for tasks are different
  • Dependencies factored in (eg. Other project activities, Holidays, Leave plans etc.)
  • Ensure relevant parties aware of involvement early (eg. Client’s IT team, other vendors, freelancers, etc.)
  • Ensure stakeholders are present during review & sign off periods
  • Plan time for revisions & buffer in time if needed

2. Milestones are your Best Friends

  • Milestones have a date and time
  • Major milestones should not be moved
  • It protects the project from going out of schedule
  • It allows good estimation on payment milestones

3. Define and Mitigate Risks Early

  • Don’t wait till shit hits the fan
  • Be paranoid
  • Some risks can only be mitigated by clients
  • Consult team members or domain experts for possible solutions
  • Resolve issues as quickly as possible before it complicate other activities
  • Be paranoid

4. Next Steps

  • Clients must always be informed what is the next step and when it can be expected
  • Do not allow clients to feel the project is floating or that your team is sleeping
  • Ensure regular communication with client and team
  • Always record agreements
  • Always do contact reports even after a phone call or a conversation over beers

5. Push Projects for Closure

  • Start non dependent tasks early
  • Projects should not stall
  • Project Managers are to push projects for closure so as to minimise opportunity costs
  • The longer a project stretches, the more money the company loses

On Brief

1. Only within the Scope Of Work

  • Scope of work must correlate back to activities and deliverables costed
  • Review the assumptions together with client and ensure they understand
  • Guard against Scope Creep
  • New scope is not part of the plan, hence complicates and jeopardises the planned activities
  • New items can go into next phase which can be costed for separately
  • Don’t be a nice guy
  • Project Managers are the bad guys, so let the Account Servicing / Business Development guys be the good guys

2. Common understanding on Deliverables

  • Client and Team all needs to be clear and aligned on their expectations of the deliverables
  • What is to be delivered?
  • Who is producing it?
  • In what format?
  • What are the specifications?
  • What are the mandatories?
  • To be submitted to whom? and When?
  • Where is it to be used
  • Counter check against checklists

3. Check and test for Quality Assurance

  • Have a Test Plan and Test it first yourself
  • Check against scope, plans, documents, brand guidelines, specs, wireframes, keyscreens, browser compatibility, etc.
  • For any build items, test that it works full circle
  • For creative and interactive work, ensure creative team checks interaction quality as well
  • Get fresh pairs of eyes to check

4. Know and Manage Client Expectations

  • Know success factors up front (ie. KPIs / ROIs)
  • Sometimes deliverables and client expectations don’t match up, so clarify
  • Common sense is not common
  • Don’t assume
  • Avoid reworking

5. Keep an eye on the Project Objective

  • Don’t detract from original plan too much
  • Don’t win the battle and lose the war
  • Always keep the project objectives in mind
  • Don’t have tunnel vision

On Budget

1. Time is Money in the Service Industry

  • Time spent is time spent (ie. Meetings, calls, look for images, helping your client tweak their slides, walk your client’s dog, etc.)
  • Spend only time allocated for as detailed in the scope of work
  • Any rework is time
  • Stick to agreed round of revisions and pre-empt clients when the number of revisions are going to be exhausted

2. Nothing is Free

  • Client will always ask for freebies
  • Value and respect you and your team’s work
  • Doing client a favour is doing your colleagues a disfavour

3. Up-sell when opportunities arise

  • New requests can be addressed in a phase 2 with a new quotation
  • Take note of other parallel complimentary projects in the client’s organisation

4. Time saved is money earned

  • Work smart
  • Use technology to automate tasks where possible (eg. Content Auditing, building a sitemap, data transformation, etc.)

5. Profitability depends on Project Management

  • Your rates can be sky high, but if projects are badly managed, you will still lose money

Being a Project Manager

These are some in my view critical soft skills a Project Manager need to have.
1. Be the Heart of the Project

  • Business Manager = First Impression, Project Manger = Sustained Impression, so how well this heart pumps will determine if there is going to be a next project
  • Project Mangers responsible for Happy colleagues
  • You are the central node between clients and team
  • Motivate your team to victory
  • Ensure client satisfaction

2. Be the First-line of Defence

  • Know the scope and assumptions
  • First to push back unreasonable requests
  • Nobody likes a yes man
  • Aim to be loved by both client and team
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Ask for help when needed

3. Effective communication

  • Don’t have email diarrhoea (Digest for team)
  • Listen, don’t just hear
  • Be paranoid, document even calls
  • Contact Reports is a must
  • Nobody likes to read long emails, good to talk in person with a short summary email
  • Efficient communication (10 sentences vs 1 sentence)
  • Build Rapport
  • Choose words carefully
  • Don’t reply impulsively
  • Be professional
  • Set email sending delays (ps. this saved me many times)
  • Understand & express urgency

4. Know the next steps

  • Lead the team
  • Always know what’s next & when
  • When in doubt ask
  • Bring in knowledge experts when required
  • Escalate when needed
  • Provide clients weekly updates (What was done this week, what is to be done next week, risks, mitigation recommendation, overall timeline review)

5. Know what you are managing

  • Learn enough
  • Keep up to date
  • Don’t be shy to ask
  • You can’t provide consultation if you don’t know it

6. Avoid common pitfalls

  • Do ensure clear scope & guard against scope creep
  • Do involve the right people on the project
  • Do ask for help & learn from others
  • Don’t be a yes man
  • Don’t underestimate complexity
  • Don’t suppress bad news

Hope these help. So go forth and be awesome and lead your team to victory.

Bathroom Showrooms Shopping in Singapore

Duravit Training Centre in Singapore
Duravit Training Centre in Singapore

Alot of my friends know that my family have been in the bathroom business since the early 70s and personally I’ve been in the business full time for about 3 years too. One of our family habits have been to visit the toilets where ever we go and be able to tell the brand that they are using be it a high end restaurant decked out in Kohler Luxurious One-Piece WCs and Vola tapware or at a mall with reliable Toto WCs and hygienic Presto sensor tapware. One thing for sure is I’ve always been asked for recommendations for bathroom products.

Cleo and Cli at the Showroom which I worked at last time
Cleo and Cli at the Showroom which I worked at last time

As my parents have retired, their business have been bought over and hence my recommendations now will be totally unbiased. :) Here are some recommendations if you are looking at shopping for toilets and tapware.


Bathroom Shorwrooms in Singapore

KHK ASIA PTE LTD
120 Lower Delta Road, #01-11 Cendex Centre, Singapore 169208
Tel: 65-6-377-3285 Web: http://khkluxury.com.sg, http://kohler.com.sg/en/bathroom-products-1.html
Brand to see: Kohler

Econflo Systems Pte Ltd
263/265 Beach Road Singapore 199544
Tel: 6396 3738, Web: http://www.econflo.com, https://www.facebook.com/EconfloSystems
Brand to see: Duravit, Hansgrohe

Ferrara
33 Ubi Avenue 3, #01-27 Vertex Singapore 408868
Tel: 6235 0020, Web: http://www.ferrara.com.sg
Opening Hrs: Mon-Fri 10am – 6.30pm, Sat 10am – 4pm
Brand to see: Duravit, ArtCeram, Jado, Keuco

Home & Bathroom Building Products
566 Balestier Road, Singapore 329883
Tel: 6253 4655, Web: http://www.homeandbathroom.com.sg
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10am – 7pm, Sat 10am – 6pm, Sun & PH Closed
Brands to see: Toto, Hansgrohe, Axor, Grohe

w.atelier
75 Bukit Timah Road #01-01/02, Singapore 229833
Tel: +65 6270 8828, Web: http://watelier.com
Operating Hours: Mon-Sat 10am – 6pm, Sun & PH Closed
Brands to see: Toto

Interior Affairs
12 Hoy Fatt Road, Bryton House #02-01, Singapore 159506
Tel: +65 6632 7471, Web: http://www.interior-affairs.com.sg
Operating Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun & PH Closed
Brands to See: Dornbracht, Villeroy & Boch, Grohe, ArtCeram, Gessi, Roca

Bathroom Gallery by Wan Tai
25 Changi South Avenue 2, Level 1 & 2, Singapore 486594
Tel: 6546 5900, Web: http://www.bathroomgallery.com.sg
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 6.30pm, Sat 10am – 3pm, Sun Closed
Brand to see: Duravit

Hemsely
39a Jalan Pemimpin, #07-01 Halcyon Building, Singapore 577183
​Tel: 6337 3136, Web: http://www.hemsley.com.sg
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 9.30am – 6.30pm, Sun & PH Closed


Bathroom Brands I Like

Sanitary Wares

Tapware

Dimensional Seduction

20150122_dimensional_seduction
Not sure when I started having these dreams, but it felt like I’ve always had them. These recurring dreams of places that are so familiar yet quite different. It’s like a reflection of the real world but with slight differences that makes every step in my dream an exploration yet a revisit of places I’ve been. It’s almost like a long djà vu when I wake up every single time.

The end of the street where I grew up lead to a main road here in reality, but there in my dreams, its a candy store which sold toys and they are still in operation till today… in my dreams. The theater in town has an underground subway, but in my dreams it’s an elevated track that circled the city. Confidently I know where I am in my dreams, but when I awake, I can never find the paper and pen I need to start my cartography as if there is an elaborate plan in play to ensure I don’t.

In my dreams I feel like I’m walking in water when I want to run, but at other times I fly like a weightless leaf dropping upwards into the sky employing only my will to direct myself towards where I want to go.

Actually I’m not sure how much in control am I of myself in these dreams. Sometimes I’m proud of myself for making certain decisions there when I awake, maybe because it reflects what I would have done here. However sometimes I regret not making mistakes as there would be no consequences anyway.

What I’m not sure is if the people in these dreams are just but a projection of my thoughts? Am I responsible for their actions? Am I in control of their actions as well or are they other individuals also in their dream state? It would be horrible if there was a massacre there and knowing it’s what my mind wanted. No, I can’t be responsible for the action of others, I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s actions.

Are we all then sharing dreams? Are we all dreaming together? Some of the people I know here are also in my dreams, but when I checked with them the next day it confirms that we do not share dreams. Maybe time is not relevant as some of these dreams are recurring and no matter what we did there, we will still wake up here in our time, our linear time that we are so used to with befores and afters.

I want to believe that dreams are little windows. Little windows that allows us to peer into our other lives in other dimensions. Maybe I live somewhere else in one of these other dimension, maybe I know a totally different set of people in one of these other dimension, maybe I have a different wife in one of these other dimension, maybe I’m of the opposite gender in one of these other dimension.

The one recurring dream of my childhood, I’m stuck in a small brick tower filled with water. It’s almost like a medieval public pool but not filled enough to let anyone in it climb out. The people trapped together with me are all trying to stay afloat and at a specific time a frail woman dressed in black robes will open up an underwater gate to let her pet shark feed. I’ve never been eaten before as I’ve always somehow manage to miraculously climb out after some frantic swimming even when I’m an average built slender female wearing a skin tone one piece swimsuit with my white swimming cap. I would dash to the bathroom door only for it to open up into a train station and that’s my cue to wake up. Have never been able to pass that point.

Maybe our dreams are truly us peering into our other lives in other dimensions. Maybe there is an edge to the other dream dimension that we are allowed to reach but not surpass, maybe we are only allowed to peer into specific windows of time there, Nothing earlier, nothing later, just that specific little snippet. Maybe our other dreams are but slices of other specific times in other dimensions that we exist. Maybe there is one me in each dimension and dreams allow the multiple me to be strung together for that brief moment in my dream.

I live different lives in each of these different dimensions and have different friends. Sometimes I meet the people I know here in this reality in my dream world and my affinity with them grows stronger. There must be a reason for us to also meet in dreams. I always want to tell my friends that I dreamt of them the night before, but I’m not always sure if they are ready for this kind of intimacy. Actually I’m not sure myself if I’m ready or not too.

The seduction from the other dimension is very real.

Our reality is very real.

Our realities.