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Author: Jason Westland

Jason Westland has over 20 years experience in the project management industry. From his experience he has created software to help speed up the management process. If you would like to find out more, visit

Best of PMTimes: The Five Goals of a Project Manager

As a project manager, you need to manage people, money, suppliers, equipment—the list is never ending. The trick is to be focused. Set yourself five personal goals to achieve. If you can meet these simple goals for each project, then you will achieve total success.

These goals are generic to all industries and all types of projects. Regardless of your level of experience in project management, set these five goals for every project you manage.


Goal 1: To Finish on Time

This is the oldest but trickiest goal in the book. It’s the most difficult because the requirements often change during the project and the schedule was probably optimistic in the first place.

To succeed, you need to manage your scope very carefully. Implement a change control process so that any changes to the scope are properly managed.

Always keep your plan up to date, recording actual vs. planned progress. Identify any deviations from plan and fix them quickly.


Goal 2: To Finish Under Budget

To make sure that your project costs don’t spiral, you need to set a project budget at the start to compare against. Include in this budget, all the types of project costs that will accrue, whether they are to do with people, equipment, suppliers or materials. Then work out how much each task in your plan is going to cost to complete and track any deviations from this plan.

Make sure that if you over-spend on some tasks, that you under-spend on others. In this way, you can control your spend and deliver under budget.


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Goal 3: To Meet the Requirements

The goal here is to meet the requirements that were set for the project at the start. Whether the requirements were to install a new IT system, build a bridge or implement new processes, your project needs to produce solutions which meet these requirements 100%.

The trick here is to make sure that you have a detailed enough set of requirements at the beginning. If they are ambiguous in any way, then what was initially seen as a small piece of work could become huge, taking up valuable time and resources to complete.


Goal 4: To Keep Customers Happy

You could finish your project on time, under budget and have met 100% of the requirements—but still have unhappy customers. This is usually because their expectations have changed since the project started and have not been properly managed.

To ensure that your project sponsor, customer and other stakeholders are happy at the end of your project, you need to manage their expectations carefully. Make sure you always keep them properly informed of progress. “Keep it real” by giving them a crystal clear view of progress to date. Let them voice their concerns or ideas regularly. Tell them upfront when you can’t deliver on time, or when a change needs to be made. Openness and honesty are always the best tools for setting customer expectations.


Goal 5: To Ensure a Happy Team

If you can do all of this with a happy team, then you’ll be more than willing to do it all again for the next project. And that’s how your staff will feel also. Staff satisfaction is critical to your project’s success.

So keep your team happy by rewarding and recognizing them for their successes. Assign them work that complements their strengths and conduct team building exercises to boost morale. With a happy motivated team, you can achieve anything!

And there you have it. The five goals you need to set yourself for every project.

Of course, you should always work smart to achieve these goals more easily.


Published on May 12, 2010.

Time to Dust off the Project Manager Job Description

In my role I set strategy, recruit, oversee development, handle the budgets, deal with staff problems, chair meetings, take minutes and make the coffee. In fact, that list doesn’t even begin to touch on the variety of tasks I find myself doing every day as a CEO. It’s just as well that I don’t have a job description because if I did it would be very, very long.

Ask to see a copy of a job description for the project managers in your team and you’ll probably be handed a dusty document. Dusty? Of course. No one in project management does what it says on their job description any longer. If we all stuck to that then I doubt we’d ever complete any projects at all.

The reality is that while ticking the boxes on the job description might get you a job as a project manager, when you’re in the job it’s suddenly very different.

Project work is not routine

Projects are non-routine work, and non-routine work involves people having to think. You won’t see ‘thinking’ on any job description, but it’s what you are paid to do for a large portion of your time at work.
When you start work on a project there’s the thinking that comes with project initiation. There are some technical project management skills that we all have to have to do a good job. But a good project manager needs to go beyond that, and spend time thinking about how to get things done through other people. That requires leadership – and that’s a skill that might appear on your job description. What will be missing from that dusty document is that getting things done through others means trusting the people on your project team to do the right thing.

You won’t find ‘trusting’ on any job descriptions either.

Working beyond the job description

So if a project manager has to go beyond the job description to get things done, what is their role in business and how do we describe the critical function that they play in delivering business results?

Look through the recruitment pages of any newspaper or search online and you’ll find a huge variety of requirements (and titles) for people doing project work. There will be qualifications, soft skills and the ability to use specific software tools. You’ll see the need to travel, or be home-based, or work with third parties. Recruiters look for people who can work as a team, independently, with end users and Board members. 

But what they are really saying is that they are looking for someone who can get things done.

That’s a very short job description.

Let’s celebrate the doers!

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