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Help, I’m a first-time PM!

by Tyler Sterns | August 30, 2016

You’re young, energetic, enthusiastic, and ready to conquer the world. However, you’ve just been assigned as a project manager for a project that, if successful, will result in 1/5th of the company’s earnings for the year. No pressure, right? All of a sudden it hits you; you’re a first-time PM and are unsure of how to run a project. Send help. All of the help.

First Time Project Manager Tulsa Oklahoma

Now is not the time to panic. Now is the time to plan. There will be thousands of questions racing through your head. One of the first questions will be, “am I qualified” and the answer will probably be no and that is okay. That is not the correct question to ask. The correct question to ask is, “Do I have the resources and tools to make this project successful?” If the answer is no, then you need to determine how to obtain the appropriate resources and tools.

To be a successful Project Manager, there is a sequence of events that must occur in order to achieve the outcome.

Define Scope

A Project Manager needs to define what success looks like before starting a project. A PM can begin developing the scope and defining the outcome by asking the following questions:

  • What are the specific project goals and deliverables expected from this project?
  • What exactly will be asked of you and your project team?
  • What does success look like on this project?

You will need to validate the answers to these questions with the customer, project team, and stakeholders. Having the end in mind will help define the goals and provide guidance during the course of the project.

Develop and communicate roles & responsibilities

Once scope has been defined, you’ll need to identify and assess the skills of your project team, and ultimately create a roles and responsibilities document like the RACI Matrix. Picture the project as a puzzle, and your team are the puzzle pieces. The things you should consider when creating this document are:

  • The typical tasks for a role
  • What team member has the appropriate skill set for that role
  • How the roles relate to specific deliverables on a project

By clarifying the roles and responsibilities at the beginning of the project it reduces potential conflict and increases the success of the project. As the project manager, it is your job to define the expectations.

Develop a Project Plan

A Project Plan will serve as a guide for the execution of your project in addition to project control. Some of the key factors included in this document are:

  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Procurement management
  • Quality management
  • Communication management
  • Integration management

Developing these plans will clarify how to deal with situations, resources, and elements affecting your project.

As a first-time project manager, the best advice I can give you is: ask for help. When I started as a PM, I sought to prove something to myself, to my leadership, and to my company, which resulted in frustration and failure. I assumed what people wanted, instead of asking what they actually wanted. Luckily, I had a mentor along the way who encouraged me to ask for help. If you don’t know something, or are unsure of what is expected, ask! When you say “Help, I’m a new PM!” you’re not admitting weakness, instead you’re showing maturity.

For more tips on project management and free downloadable templates, visit our Insights and Tools.  Stay tuned for our upcoming blog on the value of performance management.


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