Project Manager panic? We’re all over it!

Don’t panic – you’ve got a new project! No work has been done on it yet and it’s yours to nurture and bring to life.  Excited?

This week’s post gives one birds-eye view of the first 4 weeks of managing a new project.

Week 0

  • Before you get there go back over your client and/or interview notes (tell me you made some!) Who are the main people, can you get to see them in the first week? Is there an induction day planned?
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before. First days are long and hard – no one likes a yawner!

Week 1

  • Now’s the time to organise those meetings with the key people. Don’t forget your team as well.  Try to see everyone associated with your project in week 1.  Week 2 is fine if they’re not available
  • Get the tech working. Email addresses, wifi, delivery of kit if you’re not using your own
  • Ask for all the data and documentation you can find on your project. And look at the intranet (if there is one) for more information on the Company
  • Arrange time with the Sponsor to understand why they are backing this work and who they want on it. Agree the date of the first Steering Committee meeting at that session
  • Slip in a quick meet and greet with your project team (if formed)

Week 2

  • Set up your weekly project meetings
  • Set up budget file and agree budget
  • Start populating your RAID log – especially assumptions and risks. Always use some assumptions and risks gleaned from your past experience in projects of this type.  They’re good as an icebreaker
  • You should know a delivery date by now so draw up your Level 0 (Highest level) project plan and share it with your Sponsor and key stakeholders

 Week 3

  • First major project meeting. Even if there is only you put that time aside and work on your plan during it.  I’ve found, from personal experience, that the earlier you dedicate yourself to that weekly session the easier you’ll find keeping to it
  • Start working on the lower levels of your project plan. The minutiae to which you go will largely depend on client requirement and team experience.  Self-starters can have fewer tasks (ie more summary than detail) but don’t be afraid to dive into the detail where required

Week 4

  • Hold your risk workshop. This can be repeated but it’s best to hold one early on
  • Discuss the plans with your team and ask for input and detail. Hopefully they are the ones with the knowledge and experience so they should do most of this hard work themselves if they are to own their tasks
  • Make sure you have an update meeting with your Sponsor. Check progress to date: do they like what you are doing, for example? Do you ike what you are doing?


There are many more tasks that will be done during this first period but by getting a framework in place really early and therefore creating a habit, the first four weeks should end with you knowing more then when you started and feeling confident in a successful delivery.


Happy managing!






Hello! New Project

Are you a project manager already?  Do you often wonder where to start when embarking on a new piece of work?

Whether you’ve been offering this service for decades, or weeks, here we believe there’s always an opportunity to hone those skills further so this week’s blog looks at 3 areas of concentration when we’re starting anew.


Who is my main Stakeholder?

Your answer to this question will often depend on how you were introduced to your client.  It’s possible you will have had several meetings with them already prior starting with them, or you may have not met the stakeholder at all yet.  Either way, it’s best to be safe and sure on this one.


Before you go to see the client on the first day, contact them and ask for a list of key names, the role they cover every day, and what they want from the project.  Also ask whether it’s possible to have a 30-minute induction with each of them.  This request should give insight into potential Project Board members and key “movers and shakers”.


What does my “team” look like?

Sometimes the better question is “Have I got anyone to help me do this?” It’s not necessary to ask this before you start, but as a bit of pre-project preparation the ideal stance is to write down the project roles to which you would like to assign a name.  If you also document their preferred behaviours for your success it will help you build risk profiles more quickly.


What exactly does my client want?

Now, there’s the rub! Some clients know exactly what they want, but many don’t which is, of course, why you are there! If you jot down the information you gleaned at the interview/meeting stage(s) then you can play this back to your Senior Stakeholder* so that you can both agree on what he expects from you.


THIS is the most important factor of all.  You’re there to deliver what your client believes they want.  There may be many changes along the way, but never lose sight of that first client requirement that brought you there in the first place!



*The person who wants this piece of work done – also known as Project Sponsor, Project Executive and other titles


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Teamwork at its best?

Exactly when should project work begin?  Should you start before you’re told; before everyone is present; before the ground rules have been laid down; before everyone is ready?

This clip shows holiday makers putting out sun beds at a hotel  The tongue-in-cheek observation states “If only Brits running for a sun lounger while on holiday is [sic] Spain was an Olympic event, but it put me in mind of a successful project:

1. The long wait before it begins.  Hotel staff cleaning up and holidaymakers waiting has definite parallels with businesses engaging project managers and resources being lined up (it is a long wait on the clip, but it’s worth it)

2. A quiet call to action.  Projects need a call to action – whether it’s a board meeting, a meeting with senior stakeholders or the first team meeting, everyone needs to know when to start

3. Work is underway.  Now on the clip this looks like a mad scramble.  Projects can often feel like that.  But wait…. there is actually order and method in how individuals are working.  Shoes and possessions are laid out to mark the spot for the loungers and holidaymakers methodically seek out their sun beds.  In a project there is always method in madness (or the devil in the detail).

4.  A regimented approach.  Note the fact that everyone is doing what they need to in a measured, almost choreographed fashion.  That’s what project governance is for (those plans, budgets, risk and issue logs, the change management, the endless decisions) – it all helps to lower the stress levels.

5. Teamwork.  You will see some holiday makers have clearly been delegated the task of setting up for the whole holiday party, and others are helping each other unload the sun beds.  This is the best part of a project – everyone working together! And note – the relative silence.  The sound of a great team of individuals working hard to achieve their aims.

My thanks to Jo Ciriani of Spaghetti Agency for sharing this in their weekly newsletter.

Interested in seeing how Cadenza Business Solutions can help your business methodically exceed its growth expectations? Contact us today on 0121 674 4224 /