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Project Management Truths compiled and some written by Mike Harding Roberts

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A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.

Good project management is not so much knowing what to do and when, as knowing what excuses to give and when.

If the project is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going terribly wrong.

Everyone asks for a strong project manager - when they get him they don't want him.

Overtime is a figment of the naive project manager's imagination.

Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.

Good project managers know when not to manage a project.

All project managers face problems on Monday mornings - good project managers are working on next Monday's problems.

Metrics are learned men's excuses.

For a project manager overruns are as certain as death and taxes.

If there were no problem people there'd be no need for people who solve problems.

Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.

Good project managers admit mistakes: that's why you so rarely meet a good project manager.

Fast - cheap - good: you can have any two.

There is such a thing as an unrealistic timescale.

The more ridiculous the deadline the more money will be wasted trying to meet it.

The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.

The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and timescale.

To estimate a project, work out how long it would take one person to do it then multiply that by the number of people on the project.

Never underestimate the ability of senior management to buy a bad idea and fail to buy a good idea.

The most successful project managers have perfected the skill of being comfortable being uncomfortable.

You can build a reputation on what you're going to do.

When the weight of the project paperwork equals the weight of the project itself, the project can be considered complete.

If it happens once it's ignorance, if it happens twice it's neglect, if it happens three times it's policy.

Some things that don't count are counted, many things that count aren't counted.

If it wasn't for the 'last minute' nothing would get done.

Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than you think.

Furious activity does not necessarily equate to progress and is no substitute for understanding.

When you're up to your arse in alligators it's easy to forget you're there to drain the swamp.

There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop.

Planning reduces uncertainty: you rule out at least one way the project could turn out.

If you have time to do it over again, you'll never get away with doing it right the first time.

If you can interpret project status data in several different ways, only the most painful interpretation will be correct.

A project gets a year late one day at a time.

Projects don't all fail in the end, they fail at the beginning.

A project ain't over until the fat cheque is cashed.

Powerful project managers don't solve problems, they get rid of them.

No project has ever finished on time, within budget, to requirement - yours won't be the first to.

Meetings are events in which minutes are kept and hours are lost.

Activity is not achievement.

The first myth of management is that it exists.

Managing IT people is like herding cats.

If you don't know how to do a task, start it, then ten people who know less than you will tell you how to do it.

A minute saved at the start is just as effective as one saved at the end.

Bad news does not improve with age and should be acted upon immediately.

People under pressure do not think faster.

If an IT project works the first time, it is wrong.

There is no such thing as an IT project only business projects some of which happen to involve IT.

At some point in the project you're finally going to have to give in and define the requirements.

Man is so obsessed with his need for success that project disasters are usually just filed away (Om P Kharanda).

The user does not know what he wants untill he gets it. Then he knows what he does NOT want.

We build systems like the Wright brothers built airplanes - build the whole thing, push it off a cliff, let it crash and start all over again (R.M. Graham).

People make a plan work, a plan alone seldom makes people work (Confucius).

If you want to make God laugh have a definite plan.

The typical project sponsor would rather starts ten projects than complete one single project (Vrisou van Eck).

If everything seems to be going well, you obviously don't know what's going on (Edward Murphy).

Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.

Planning is an unnatural process, doing something is much more fun.

The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.

No plan ever survived contact with the enemy.

Projects happen in two ways: a) Planned and then executed or b) Executed, stopped, planned and then executed.

It's not the hours that count, it's what you do in those hours.

Good control reveals problems early - which only means you'll have longer to worry about them.

If there is anything to do, do it!

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These project management proverbs, truths and laws have been compiled (and some written) by Mike Harding Roberts
© M Harding Roberts 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

project management truths