So while I have taken a break from writing this series of articles, I hope you have been out there, in the field, actively smashing the rules of project management. In an effort to help you keep this up and smash some more, I present part 4 of ‘Smashing the Rules of Project Management’.

Rule 10: ‘There are no good project managers – only lucky ones’. Anyone who has played golf will know that it’s an incredibly challenging sport. Not so much physically, but mentally, and it was Gary Player – one of the greatest ever golfers – who said ‘the more I practice, the luckier I get’.

Project Management is the same. As a project manager, you may consider yourself lucky when a project finishes on time, specification, and budget (or in fact any one of those!) but this is in large, due to the practice that you put in rather than any sort of luck.

It’s about the principles that you have applied and continue to apply, as well as the experience from previous projects that you leverage.

While no project will ever be risk-free, the risk can be substantially decreased and chances of success increased by simply applying the previous point.

Rule 11: ‘The more you plan the luckier you get’. This is very closely related to rule 10 and focuses in more detail on the importance of planning and other associated activities that a project manager should be doing. This includes risk management, budgetary controls, and managing customer expectations. The more time you spend on these, the better the project outcome.

More precisely – the more tools, techniques, and project controls that a project manager has at their disposal, combined with the understanding of whether or not these are required and why a conscious decision has been made either way – will ensure greater project success.

If a project manager really is lucky with the project achieving its objectives, he or she should probably question their value-add on the project anyway. What difference did they bring?

Rule 12: ‘Everyone asks for a strong project manager – when they get them they don’t want them’. This is a highly debatable rule. Some people like working in a highly structured environment while others prefer to be left alone to get on with what they need to do. Unfortunately with freedom comes responsibility, and project team members that want the freedom without responsibility have a negative impact on both the project and balance of the project team. Often, these sorts of team members are a challenge to manage, and this requires a strong project manager.

Sometimes, however, it’s also the client that is difficult to manage. They insist on a strong project manager to ensure that the project objectives are met, yet at the same time are the biggest culprits when it comes to flying in the face of project governance. ‘Change requests – what change requests? Can’t you just squeeze this little bit extra in?’

There is an art here to turn a ‘No’ into a ‘yes – but’.