Rules of Highly Successful Project Management

April 15, 2021

Project management refers to a complex set of skills and processes that are used to execute business projects across industries. They are broad, interdisciplinary abilities that add value in virtually any role or business segment. Just because you have completed a project management designation, however, does not mean that you are guaranteed success as a PM. Below are some rules followed by all highly successful project managers.

project management


Be Professional

In order to be a successful project manager, you have to be accredited, whether with the PMP or the CAPM certification. These are educational requirements that you must also complete alongside field experience. Having these prerequisites means that you are not only equipped with the necessary academic and on-the-job experience to excel, but it demonstrates to anyone you might be working for and with that, you are an accredited project management professional, with an up-to-date knowledge and understanding of current industry standards, trends and best practices.


Make Expectations Realistic (SMART GOALS)

Project management is all about strategizing and setting expectations. Whenever you are doing this, always make sure your goals are SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. These are the only meaningful kind of goals because they are ones that you can plan for and follow a road map to.

If your expectations are too lofty or not realistic given the myriad constraints you face as a project manager, you set yourself up for failure, and you also give your employer an inaccurate impression of what a project will entail. This could involve cost, time and personnel expectations, and the result could be dissatisfied clients and employers and potentially damage to your reputation as a project manager.


Rely on Your Team

A business’ people are its most important asset, and one of the worst mistakes you can make as a project manager is trying to do everything alone. A very important part of the PM education is the people management component. Good project managers know how to identify and deploy talent to their and the project’s benefit. You are given a team to manage, which could include a number of different employees with various specializations, and it is your job to make accurate and effective human capital allocation decisions.

A good way to fully understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses as a new PM is to schedule early and regular meetings, as well as one-on-ones, to get a better feel for what, exactly, people bring to the table. Successful project management depends on knowing early on who is working on your project and where best to leverage their talents and skillsets.


Leverage Technology

The world of project management has changed radically in the digital era. Online, cloud-based project management software that takes care of much of the day to day–filing and documentation, communication, collaboration and information sharing–is now industry standard and knowing how to effectively utilize this technology is key to project success.

Tools such as ProofHub, for instance, come with an online proofing feature, Gantt charts, detailed and customizable reporting and fully customizable workflows and kanban boards that make project management and centralizing control much easier. Keeping your team members constantly plugged in and collaborating using applications like Discord and Slack is also an important part of good project management.


Practice Good Communication

Poor communication continues to be the number one contributor to project failure. If you are not effectively sharing information, collaborating, and coordinating, you can consider your project pretty much dead in the water. Good communication means not just having the necessary platforms and technology in place, but also working on and constantly improving how you communicate.

Whether written or verbal, observe these communication best practices: always emphasize key points and takeaways by making good use of repetition; actively listen when others are speaking with the intention being to fully absorb and understand their message; ask for clarification when you don’t understand and offer it when you have made a point that you believe could potentially be open to misinterpretation.


Manage Risks

Risk management is one of those terms that can be hard to pin down, but essentially what it refers to is your ability as a project manager to identify and plan for threats. Risk management is all about finding and planning for threats early on so that you are not blindsided by them halfway through a project’s completion.

Assessing and evaluating threats involves constant external and internal research and understanding, using modeling software when available and where it applies, hiring expert consultants when necessary. Project managers must be aware of the three main types of risk: business, non-business and financial.


Understand Your Key Milestones

Understanding your milestones is important to project management success because milestones help break a project up into achievable components. Milestones are informed by budgetary planning, forecasting, and good time management, and are therefore strong indicators of how on track a project is. Milestones are additionally helpful because they help instill confidence. When you develop milestones for a project and then consistently hit them, you feel empowered to continue making important decisions.

Confidence and the ability to utilize a complex set of skills are key for successful project management. Project managers who are unsure of where they are going or how they are progressing can become paralyzed with fear and uncertainty, which often spells disaster for a project.



Being a project manager is both stressful and rewarding work. It requires a deep understanding of an industry and a business to do well, and good project managers are always in high demand. PM jobs often take people around the world and give them experience across a wide range of industries.

In addition to education and work experience, SMART goals, reliable, well-chosen team members, an understanding of technology, superior written and verbal communication skills, an ability to identify and plan for risks, and realistic, data-backed milestones are all crucial elements of a successful project. Keep the above rules for project management in mind now and in the future and make all of your projects highly successful.


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