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Search through Google for project management advice, and you’ll discover an abundance of articles, reports and books that promise to uncover secrets and reveal little-known facts. Indeed, it’s all so elevated and esoteric, that you may start to wonder if you accidentally Googled “pyramids” instead of “project management.”

Yes, some of the content is eye-opening; especially the stuff that highlights staggeringly high project failure rates (See? It’s not just your organization!), or starkly honest laments from overworked, stressed-out and under-appreciated project managers (who doesn’t love a good rant every now and then?). But most of the information is really just common sense.

However, as the old and wise saying goes: sometimes common sense isn’t all that common. Not because it’s hard to grasp, but because it’s easy to forget. Pretty soon, everyone just assumes that everyone else knows stuff, but doesn’t confirm it – because then instead of responding with a helpful answer, other people might say: wow, you don’t already know that? How did you get this job?

project management success

And so, in an effort to de-mystify project management and make it as accessible and effective to as many professionals as possible – including those who aren’t project managers, but alas have project management thrust upon them – we’re pleased to revive these 3 NON-secrets of project management success:

1. Project Planning: Aim for the Middle
Those who advocate bottom-up project planning believe that all details need to be available at the outset, while fans of a top-down approach think that the big picture and major deliverables are enough to get the ball rolling.

The NON-secret here is that they’re both right (or for the pessimists among us: both wrong). The only viable, practical approach is to combine both bottom-up and top-down. Otherwise, project plans take eons to develop – and yet still be unrealistic or impractical when they’re ready to roll. Or, they can aim too high and fail to comprehend fundamental realities and restrictions.

2. Resource Management is Not a Nice-to-Have
The most robust and well-developed project plans and schedules in the world aren’t worth the paper that they’re printed on – or the screen pixels that they occupy – without effective resource management. After all, resources are the people who do the work and get things done. And if there aren’t enough of them or they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, then lots of bad things happen (including that nobody gets to go home on time!).

The NON-secret here is that resource management must be fully integrated with project management. It’s not a nice-to-have or an afterthought, or a process that “sorts itself out” once project execution starts. On the contrary, it will sideswipe and derail the project right out of the gate, and possibly to the extent that the rest of the project is an elaborate, wholly unsatisfying exercise in damage control.

3. Software will either help or harm the project.
There is a lot of grey area in the project management world – obstacles can be opportunities, setbacks can be successes, and that @#%#Q$! line manager who keeps stealing your project staff is, well, still a @#%#Q$! (OK, so that last one wasn’t such a good example).

But one thing that isn’t abstract or interpretative – and hence a NON-secret – is that software will either help or harm the project. There is no middle ground or fence to straddle.

Helpful project management software enables clear visibility and transparency, so that projects can be managed collaboratively, resources can be allocated and utilized effectively, and work can get done intelligently and rapidly. Harmful project management software does none of these in any meaningful way, and never will no matter what the sales and marketing hype promises.

Clarizen: a Decade of NON-Secrets
At Clarizen, we’ve spent the last decade creating award-winning project management software that clearly demonstrates our commitment to these glorious NON-secrets. That’s why our solution combines both bottom-up and top-down project planning approaches, features integrated and extremely powerful resource management functionality, and enables projects of all sizes and shapes to reach the finish line on time, on budget and in scope.

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Helena Bachar