Top tips for project managers?

Below is a compilation of project management truisms. Some have been around years; a few are my own concoctions – the result of researching and reporting on countless IT projects and programmes.


1. Projects with realistic budgets and timetables don’t get approved

2. Activity in the early stages should be dedicated to finding the correct questions

3. The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the progress report

4. A user is somebody who rejects the system because it’s what he asked for

5. The difference between project success and failure is a good PR company

6. Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it

7. Every failing, overly ambitious project, has at its heart a series of successful small ones trying to escape

8. A freeze on change melts whenever heat is applied

9. There’s never enough time to do it right first time

10. You understood what I said, not what I meant

11. If you don’t know where you’re going, just talk about specifics

12. If at first you don’t succeed, rename the project

13. Everyone wants a strong project manager – until they get him

14. Only idiots own up to what they really know (thank you to President Nixon)

15. The worst project managers sleep at night

16. A failing project has benefits which are always spoken of in the future tense

17. Projects don’t fail in the end; they fail at conception

18. Visions are usually treatable

19. Overly ambitious projects can never fail if they have a beginning, middle and no end

20. In government we never punish error, only its disclosure

21. The most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest

22. A realist is one who’s presciently disappointed in the future

And thanks to TechRepublic for this:

“Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet” – which brings to mind one or two of the NPfIT implementations.


A collection of project management sayings

Project management jokes, humour, proverbs and laws

Project Management tips

Do you speak “Project”? – PM Hut

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There are some interesting quotes that I've never read, such as: "A failing project has benefits which are always spoken of in the future tense", and "Projects don't fail in the end; they fail at conception" (though the latter is more or less on the lines of "failing to plan is planning to file".

I have published something similar a few months ago, do you speak project, where the author defines Project Management terms in a funny way, for example:

Team - Your best friends. The group that, when asked who caused a problem, forms a circle and each person points to the left.

How does a project get to be a year late? One day at a time.

Enjoyed this post, and I blogged about it over at ZDNet:

20 cynical project management tips --

Tony, I enjoyed reading the list and it reminds me of the most ambitious project I have worked on. We had an 18 month window to deliver 4 years of work and instead of asking the customer to give us 4 years, we ended up delivering it in 3 18-month phases. When customers are paying maintenance fees, regular delivery tasks get in the way of delivering what they really want.

My favorite tips that apply to the Holy Grail project I refer to are:

1. Projects with realistic budgets and timetables don't get approved

2. There's never enough time, so do it right the first time

3. If at first you don't succeed, rename the project

I will be starting a Linkedin discussion based on your blog as I think it is an interesting

Great read one article. I find it fascinating that most of us managers know the common pitfalls, but few if any, put in place and execute systematic procedures that include process steps (with best practice knowledge descriptions) on how to minimize risks. We spend all of our time in meetings (putting out fires) and heads-down with our Project work plan and say implementing best practice processes would be great, but we don’t have the time. I think focusing on defining, executing, and governing best practice procedures should become corporate policy and mandated.

share common sense solutions to the top project problems.

All of these may sound easy, but ultimately its all difficult to manage, especially: keeping it simple, finding solutions, solving problems, leading from the front, etc.