Preventive Project Management

There are a number of things we do in life that fall into the category of preventive maintenance. For example, there is preventive health care. You eat right and exercise regularly. You do this in hopes that it will prevent problems from occurring later in life. You do preventive maintenance on your car. You make sure the fluids are checked, the oil is changed, and everything is running smooth for as long as possible.

The same principle applies to Projects. There is preventive maintenance that we can do on Projects that always allows yourself and others to know what is going on and keep them running as smooth as possible. If you don’t perform preventive project management and keep others informed, you will find that things will quickly begin to break down. Stakeholders may have a tendency to “freak out” or overreact simply because they do not know what is occurring on the project.

The following are three ways you can perform preventive maintenance on your Projects:

  1. Status Reports – You need to have regularly updated status reports. These can be done weekly and either with or without a meeting associated with them. Make sure the stakeholders know where they can get these status reports. For those you know who MUST read and know the status, go over to their desk and make sure they understand exactly what is on that status report. Don’t assume that they are going to read your email or attachment. Everyone is busy and they may not get around to it. Take it upon yourself to make sure that they know the status.
  2. Keep Executives Informed – Do you need something on your Project to go a certain way? Is there a decision that needs to be made so that it can move forward? Make sure that you spend the necessary time with the project sponsors and executives that are behind the Project. Give the executives the objective facts of what is going on. Others will bend the ear of these executives, so you need to be speaking into their other ear just as well.
  3. “Where does this stand?” – Always have the answer to that question, “Where does this Project currently stand?” Make sure that everyone knows what the next step is. It’s simple, but everyone has to have the answer to: What’s next? Who works on it? Who does it go to? and What needs to be done to this particular Project to move it forward?

If you stay on top of these three things, you will have much smoother running projects and benefit greatly by performing preventive project management.

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