22 things IT project managers need to know

Project management tips from Computer Weekly journalist Tony Collins

Computer Weekly journalist Tony Collins, co-author of Crash, a guide to avoiding computer failures, gives some project management tips, which draw on years of investigative reporting.

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 when 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

Some of the aphorisms are Computer Weekly's. Others are variations of sayings that have been known to project managers for years. We are also grateful to these two sites:

A collection of project management sayings >>

Project management jokes, humour, proverbs and laws >>

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Ha, this list came from a very pessimistic (and probably realistic) person! I can relate to most of these points. But to be fair, I bet that most project managers have their own list of gripes about the project developers, QA, BA's, etc. 

The best project managers, in my opinion, see themselves as advocates for the team; someone who is there to remove roadblocks whenever possible and allow the team to get their project work done. 

The worst project managers act more like adversaries. They don't trust the development team, they feel like they need to keep an eye on them and push them, and they just get in the way more often than not.