Top 5 Rules For More Successful Projects

Adriana Girdler

Keeping your sanity in check Projects are a way of life in business. All companies, no matter their size, have them. But why do the …

Keeping your sanity in check

Projects are a way of life in business. All companies, no matter their size, have them. But why do the majority of projects go over budget, exceed timelines and have scope creep? Based on my experience as a Project Management Professional (PMP), it’s because the people in charge are not following my top 5 rules for project success. Read on to discover how you too can tame your out-of-control projects with these five simple rules of thumb!Reaching Full Potential Speedometer Tracking Goal

Rule #1  Dedicate an employee. – For larger projects, dedicate an employee to be the project manager on a full-time basis. It’s critical that you have a full-time resource dedicated to managing your project. There are so many details, big and small, that take up time. A full-time manager will be able to dedicate their time and energy to ensuring your project stays on budget, on time and on scope, instead of being distracted, delayed and derailed by daily demands.

Rule #2 Be prepared. Preparation is a huge factor in the success of your project. It’s similar to painting a room. First, you need to empty the room, prep the walls, and pick the paint, all before you can even start to apply that first coat. It’s the same thing with project management. Having your charter, timeline, action plan, resource matrix, and other critical documents on paper will ensure everything runs smoothly once you execute the plan. A well prepared project is the key to smooth execution.

Rule #3 Eliminate scope creep. What is scope creep? Scope creep occurs when your manager asks you, in the middle of your project, to add just one small item, promising that it won’t impact anything. The problem with this is that every single time a project leader accepts a scope addition, a reasonable and manageable assignment quickly gets out of hand. A clear scope statement will ensure that everyone knows what the deliverable is, and how to ensure success.

Rule #4 Foster teamwork. All projects are executed by members of a team, and a team that “gels” and understands each other will be invaluable to the project. A successful project results from the hard work of many, not just that of the project manager. If everyone feels they are empowered and part of a team, they will be more emotionally committed to the project, and will want to do all they can to see the project succeed. People will go the extra mile when they feel included. Test it out today: take your team out to lunch or buy them all a coffee; get to know them and find out what roadblocks they’ve hit, and share this info with the team to find out how everyone can be part of the solution. If you do this, you will see an improvement in your overall project deliverables.

Rule #5 Complete the project. See the project through to the end. Way too often, I’ve seen projects dismantled as soon as the deliverable was handed over to the business unit. Projects do not end once equipment or services are submitted. You need to build in time to monitor the results, and tweak them to ensure a quality handover and client satisfaction.

These 5 simple rules are the key to project management success. Follow them, and you will see a positive impact on your projects – and ultimately your bottom line – through time, scope and budget monitoring.

What rules do you use to ensure project success? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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6 thoughts on “Top 5 Rules For More Successful Projects”

  1. Hi Adriana, I enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing it!

    I must say, #4 rings true…the idea that we can foster teamwork by helping everyone feel emotionally connected to the journey. I like to think we can take it a step further and extend beyond our immediate team, to bring that same connection to the table for our Sponsor, key partners and wider audience. If we can help them feel involved and connected…if we can help them see how we are going to add to their business or improve their operation, then we have a better chance of turning them into our ambassadors or champions.

    What do you think?

    • Tony,

      Thanks so much the reply. I would agree. The more engagement, connection, and understanding of project/business benefits, we can foster amongst all those that touch, impact, or who are impacted by the project, the better the experience and the better the project result.

      Adriana Girdler

  2. I really appreciate the research work done to formulate these five important rules for timely completion of a project within the budget cost estimate. This is possible when all the stakeholders know the importance of each and every activity and the persons attached to project. But unfortunately this is not the case in India especially in the new real estate industry. In my experience of last 30 years I have found that there is lag in the very first step. Real Estate builders do not trust their employees and hence formation of a dedicate team is not possible. This is because majority of the stock holders are unprofessional and may be from a very conservative background and money minded.The stock Holders do not dedicate an employee to plan and develop the project. They have frequent interruptions in the dedicated working of an employee due to mistrust or their personal Eggo’s. I have found in many of the project that the stock holders take unilateral decision with out consultation of professionals just to satisfy their greed.

    Further during execution the client/ stoke holders employ minimum professional staff which finally effect the delivery of the project and quality of work. I have found that most of the real estate builders in National capital Region, India, do not have a strong dedicated executing team. The engineers are not doing engineering jobs. They are being used as site supervisors to do whatever the client want to execute. 99% of the engineers are not authorized to take any decision of their own. 98% engineers do not know how to read the drawing and make interpretations of facts and figures given in the drawings. Further 99% engineers do not keep them updated and books and refer technical specifications for the work to be executed at site. They always depend on the myths and the year long practice standards told to them by their seniors.

    I found that cash rich companies with huge reputation have failed to deliver the project due to the above reasons.

    I have not seen a single real estate builder who give credit to his team for the good work at site. There is exploitation of men power at everywhere. It is very rare that the client has organised any get to gather with the staff to feel them part of the organisation. This factor of belonging is very rare.

    About the scope of work, no body including the client and all other persons engaged with the project know what is next. This factor is totally missing here. This is because the project is not conceived as a whole rather in parts. Here the role of project architect is also very negative. I have not seen a single architect who design and coordinate service drawings with civil and structural drawings and this is a major reason for delay in construction of project in budgeted time and cost. In my experience, no client/architect take timely action to procure and install lifts and finally the project is not delivered on time.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your situation. Yes, you have a situation that is not pleasant or ideal. It sounds like the key stakeholders are not looking at the bigger picture of overall success and are in reaction mode vs. proactive mode. It also sounds like there are some deeper issues, like lack of trust, lack of proper resources and lack of communication. These are fundamental problems and will always hurt projects and frustrate the people working in them. The problem is that change can only occur when the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of changing. If things are going well for these companies fiscally, which allows them to spend money to deal with inefficiencies, then change will be difficult to achieve.

      However, if one can prove that they will save more money or make more profit if following these guiding principles, then you may have a chance to have those companies listen and perhaps embrace these rules. I do not have an easy fix or an answer that will solve this problem. This is a culture issue and all culture issues need time to shift from present behaviour to ideal future behaviour.

      At this moment you can only control what you can change. If you have this authority, then you may want to start implementing these concepts where you can. I wish you all the best in your projects.

      Adriana Girdler
      CornerStone Dynamics
      President & Chief Efficiency Officer

    • Hi D’Arcy,

      Thank you for your comment. I am pleased you found the article helpful. All the best with your team building. This is a great opportunity for you to set up your expectation with your new team from the get go. Good Luck!


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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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