Project ManagementMust-Have Business Rules for Today's Economy

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Last month, I shared with you my philosophy about creating team rules with the input and collaboration of your employees. The take-away was that people feel good when they are able to achieve clear and obtainable goals. Rules keep business on track but they also contribute to an overall positive work experience. An anything goes, free-for-all will only lead to conflicts, disorganization and a productivity stand-still.

While effective Business Rules are a must-have for any business, Project Management-specific rules are something that can apply to any business. PM rules are directly responsible for process, communication and remaining on target to meet both budget and deadlines. These, as you know, are all necessities to running any successful business whether it’s a bar, a day care center or a shoe store.

Here are my top ten must-have business rules that will help any business weather the current economic storm and, perhaps, find breaks of sunshine along the way.

  1. Visualize Your Bull’s-eye If you picture what the final outcome will be, you will have something to aim for. In this case, that picture should be of the final product and it should be something specific that can be illustrated (or summed up in a word or two) for all to see and agree upon. For example, if you are working on producing a smart workspace, you’d draw a clutter-free desk with neatly, organized materials for easy access. Or you could simply write the words “Orderly and Productive” to give the visual of what the goal is for that workspace.
  2. Jack, Be Nimble Rules are meant to serve as guidelines but in today’s economy, many rules need to be flexible and/or broken. Change will happen and you need to be ready and nimble to grab whatever comes your way and turn it into a success. Approaching assignments with the desire to improve mindset can help team members breeze through the red tape and meet the business goals quicker. This may be easier for some than others. I always like to ask, “does this rule make sense for this specific case? Would it help or hurt the outcome if we bent this rule a bit?”
  3. What’s Your Rain Plan? Have many plans to address a variety of situations. Think of this as your “rain plan.” A good Project Manager knows that everything is subject to change and things agreed upon in the beginning may not cross the finish line in the end. Planning for various scenarios ahead of time will keep things moving forward without much of a hiccup.
  4. Healthy Risk Management Every business needs a “glass-half-empty” kind of person and in Project Management, that would be a Risk Officer. With all of the positive, goal-aiming, there needs to be a watchful eye out for the kind of risk in carrying out specific plans and steps. And as in the “What’s Your Rain Plan?” rule, there should be plans to counteract any crisis should it bubble up.
  5. Put the Pedal to the Metal. It’s a no-brainer that you need drive to keep the project moving fast and furious to remain on budget and on time. Using basic Project Management tools like color coding, consistent communication and the Japanese “5’s” (seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke which, when translated, mean organization, neatness, cleanliness, standardization and discipline)will help keep your project from slowing down or hitting a traffic jam. Remember timing is everything when it comes to success.
  6. Freshen Up Your Toolkit This business rule has been around since the stone age. Join the evolution and always seek out new ideas and ways to improve projects, process, relationships, business and so on. The more you know, the better the results and the quicker success comes.
  7. Let it be similar to “analysis paralysis” there is a time to let go and trust that the rulings made will have strong results. Time spent micro-managing details and rehashing decisions will be better spent leading the team to reach the project’s milestones.
  8. Voice and Articulation Projects will have a better chance at success if everyone touching the project is empowered to voice concerns, share ideas and help one another through clear communication. Encouraging an open forum for all to participate equals a positive work environment and a more productive and collaborative team effort.
  9. Little by little projects can often seem like an impossible feat. Having multiple milestones to reach to get to the final product is much easier to digest if it is in smaller parts. Take the time to review and approve each step along the way to be sure you are on the right path to completion.
  10. Quality time and money – A project is deemed a success if it is a quality deliverable that arrives on time and on budget. This is a rule that needs to be reviewed throughout the process to ensure that all decisions, direction and steps guide the project to hit all three of those points.

When business rules and goals are clear, productivity and morale will hit an all-time high. If you have rules in place now, take some time to see if they are still relevant for the way business is currently changing. Be sure to tap into others for their own perspectives and solutions. Sooner versus later, you’ll find your business growing and thriving.

About the Author

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in over 100 publications and web sites around the world. You can check out her monthly column, the Know How Network, as well as her weekly radio program, Your World Your Way that is an inspiring and practical look at how Project Management fuels success.

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. She lives in Nevada with her family and likes to rejuvenate in Alaska where you’ll often find her kayaking, hiking, and riding her motorcycle.

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