The advent of the personal computer and the wealth of software available have changed for the better how managers work. Despite these significant improvements, a couple of tips should be considered:
1. BPM (Business Process Mapping) and related tools are great for understanding project management components. But that is pretty much the extent of their usefulness. I have observed and managed many situations where the process of mapping flows and estimating lead and lag times and other quasi-quantifications has actually resulted in a loss of effective control over the project. Parallel use of simpler spreadsheet approaches tailored precisely to your project and its components may be equally effectual.
2. Cost tracking and meeting schedule goals are the essence of good project management. These are made easier if Cost Accounting principles (see previous Tip) are adhered to first and foremost. Schedule difficulties always follow cost difficulties and rarely precede them unless a logistical problem is involved.
3. Prepare for schedule difficulties when bidding (e.g. planning) the project. Customer and marketing considerations often drive a ‘can do' attitude that dictates project schedules. That is a reality of business and best dealt with through appropriate contingency planning as early in the process as possible. Critical path analysis and lead/lag time planning are geared to solving schedule problems, but the reality is that few managers take advantage of time gains made when projects are going well resulting in crisis when the schedule bug strikes. Try to anticipate every potential problem and have a work-around ready to go and success will follow.
An old adage of project management has said that 90% of project funds are expended on the first 50% of the project and the last 90% to finish it! Whether that is true, meaningful or not, keep it in mind because there is a kernel of truth in it.