Posted by: Gilad Lev-Shamur | August 21, 2009

What are the 5 basic rules of project management?

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Many projects mangers and people involved in project management deal with the same problems. They are using common methods for scheduling, cost management and resource management, or developed their own methods. Parts of them are highly trained where others are self-educated.

Projects appear in all industries, ranging from few thousands to hundreds of millions dollars. They might involve internal stakeholders or several external customers. They appear in not-profit organizations and in top market companies.  Project management involve in any aspect of our life.

If we look at all the tools, methods, techniques, BKMs, courses and training, good project management practice can be summarized, as I see it, into 5 points:

  1. People, people and people – as someone said: give me the right people and I will solve any problem (almost…).  As in any other aspect of management, people are everything. No matter whether they report direct to you or part of your project team as the stakeholders focal point, the right people and your relationship with them will have huge impact on your project success.
  2. You cannot manage what you do not measure – if you will not track your performance, you will lose control.  If special aspect of your project is important to you, measure it. Whether its quality checks, customer feedback, actual works reports and so, project manager with this data can control his project. It’s important not become too much bureaucratic: deciding the correct level of tracked data is not as easy as you might think. But this is another issue.
  3. Say Yes:  tells your customer – when he sent you his new demands during the execution phase of the project- “yes. We can do it. But… “As long as your customer doesn’t come with non-legitimate requirements or ones which heart you business, you should try and do your best to help him. As we know, not all customers truly understand the project management profession, and understand the impact of changing requests. But it’s their time and money. You should explain them the consequences of the new demands on budget and project schedule, but let them decide (at least part of the approval loop). As customer satisfaction is major part of the project success – in addition to the regular triangle of budget, cost, and schedule- this is the only way you will succeed doing that.
  4. Project has scope. Keep doing the scope. Nothing else – sometime, when we feel everything is OK with our project we tend to find (or let other people ) other things we might add to our project scope. This is a common error. Projects are dynamic. Sometime they are on track and few days later you struggle to save them (your “good news” is gone…). Do what is written in the scope (as long as the customer doesn’t insist on other things –see item 3). Additional work can be done in other project.
  5. Say always the truth, no matter the inconvenience its cause you.


These are my thought of the 5 things every project manger must  follows in order to succeed. On their base you must add all your tools and techniques.

Good luck!



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  1. […] of the basic rules of project management (and every other management role) is “You cannot manage what you do not measure“. Measurements and indicators help you to identify trends, recognize weak points and handle […]

  2. […] Lev-Shamur presents What are the 5 basic rules of project management? at a relatively new blog called The Project Management’s Thinker.  Not a particularly […]

  3. […] What are the 5 basic rules of project management? […]

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