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Help! I'm new to PM and taking a project already started!

Posted: Thu 03 Jun 2010 4:16 pm
by Simone

I'm taking on my first ever PM role and will be taking on a project from someone else. The project is well in its advance stage but i'm worried that with very little experience how I'm going to tackle this. Does anyone have any advise on how I should approach this, important information I should ensure I receive and understand and what are some of the general things I should do?

This would be extermely helpful as already I'm very nervous, even before I've started.

Best Regards

Re: Help! I'm new to PM and taking a project already started!

Posted: Wed 09 Jun 2010 10:39 am
by Seo Keo
Hi, Simone

Congrats, you are taking an important step in youe career!

Well, don't be scary to take the project from someone's shoulder. Just make sure upfront that you know what should be given to you to get started.

Here is the poster on PM that may help you to get into a gear.

Follow the link to get the free poster outlining the key project phases, docs to be available at each of them and more.

If you wish you can subscribe for further updates. The material is all based on practical application of modern methodologies.

Happy reading!


Re: Help! I'm new to PM and taking a project already started!

Posted: Wed 09 Jun 2010 12:24 pm
by elizabethblogs
Hi Simone,

It sounds like you're taking on quite a challenge, so it's important to make sure you're up to speed with what's happened on the project so far and what the plan is for the rest of it. You mention it's in its advanced stages, but just how close is it to completion, and is it on course to meet all of its objectives?

Another important consideration is how the project is being managed. Is it being run according to a particular project management methodology (e.g. PRINCE2)? If so, are you familiar with that methodology and what it requires of those involved? If not, how is the project's progress being monitored; who is responsible for what; and are there clear lines of communication? If I were in your position, I would try and find out the facts about what has happened on the project while you've not been working on it, so that you feel well prepared to help guide it through its advanced stages.

On the project management training courses I help to organise, it is often the case that people have decided to attend training after finding themselves drawn into project work by their employers, without necessarily knowing a great deal about it beforehand. For a quick confidence boost, you could consider attending something like the Introduction to Project Management - it's a one day course that goes from the ground up (e.g. what's a project, and how can we manage projects successfully?).

All the best,
Knowledge Train

Re: Help! I'm new to PM and taking a project already started!

Posted: Thu 10 Jun 2010 4:17 pm
by bazk
Hi Simone,

Firstly, don't panic!

It can be daunting when you're handed a project that has already been started, especially when it's your first project!

Here are a few checklist items:
  • Familiarise yourself with the project brief, understand the deliverables and scope of the project
  • Review the Risk & Issue logs, make sure there is nothing of major urgency and ensure that each item has a person assigned to it
  • Review the project plan, understand what the milestones are look at the critical path - and see if there any tasks that seem to be lagging
  • Introduce yourself to the project team / resources / stakeholders and get updates on each of the tasks (those currently underway and those planned for the future, then update the project plan accordingly
  • If there any issues of major concern, or it looks like you've been handed a project in poor health, discuss it with senior stakeholders, don't hide the facts!
I hope the above items help, it's not an exhaustive list but will get you started on the right path.

As you're new to project management I'd suggest you looking at the following Project Management Courses which will provide you with the project management fundamentals you need to be an excellent project manager.

Kind regards,

Re: Help! I'm new to PM and taking a project already started!

Posted: Fri 11 Jun 2010 11:30 am
by Simone
Both, thank you so much for this. I found your input extremely helpful.

I'm sure I'll do a better job than I think and nerves playing a hugh part at the moment. I just don't want to mess it up first time! Once I can hold my nerves, then I can keep it together.

I've already compeleted a couple of PM courses and going for Prince2 shortly so I just need to put all of that into making sure I do a great job from day one. I will certainly be coming back to you everytime I begin to panic!

Best Regards

Re: Help! I'm new to PM and taking a project already started!

Posted: Mon 13 Sep 2010 12:59 am
by satisfactionuk
I am not a qualified project manager yet but do have considerable business experience so I am talking at a similar level to you. If I were in your position, I would take home a copy of all the information to date and study it for a full weekend. I would check the original business case, project brief and project initiation document to give me a baseline, then I would check all the logs, registers and reports through all of the stages to date, to find out as much as possible about the who, what, where, why and when of the project.

I would want to know my team in side out, so would be looking for the stars, the dependable cash cows and of course the dogs who need to be kept an eye on. If necessary I would pull their personnel files in order to get to know more information about each of them. Armed with this information I would meet each of the team and discuss the pros and cons of the project with them to find out their perspective and position in relation to their commitment to the project (tact and diplomacy being the order of the day). Armed with this information, I would now be in a position to evaluate the project so far and be able to formulate and negotiate a plan for its completion.

The projects that I have done in the past and I stress not officially project managed, that were what can be described as 'completion work' have proved to be problematic because you are nearly always compared against the performance of the previous project manager, either for good or bad. Interpersonal skills will be a must in your situation, therefore creating trust, balance, harmony and indeed respect for your abilities in the eyes if the team is of paramount importance. Do not let your fear manifest itself as aggression or an autocratic management style as this will go down like a lead balloon and create more problems than its worth.

If the project has had problems in past stages that are already completed then accept that this is done and dusted. Therefore when talking to the team, minimise the problems of the past and maximise the benefits and good work that has already been accomplished and give copious amount of credit for it (including the previous project manager). Then when you have gained everyone on your side lay out the new plan to take the project forward to completion.

In the end it’s all a matter of working hard and selling skills.

Kind regards

Stephan Toth