Starting is easy, finishing is hard
I was recently listening to a podcast when a quote really struck me as being central to the life of a project manager. The quote is by Jason Calacanis and reads “Starting is easy, finishing is hard.” He was referring to his experience starting and running several successful companies, but the quote applies equally well to project management.
Project managers are evaluated not when the dealer is shuffling, but rather when the project is over and all the cards have been played. This means that you must work your hardest throughout the entire life of the project. I have talked to some PMs and their passion is in creating the project schedule or gathering the stakeholders together in the beginning of the project. These tasks are important, but they ultimately do not decide the fate of the project.
The project outcome is determined by the consistent and continued effort of the PM and the project team. The overall execution is what matters during the project, not the ideas behind the project or the preliminary groundwork that is laid. As such, a project manager should dedicate most of their time to ensuring that the execution phase of the project is successful.
I know that many PMs state that the initiation phase is the bulk of the work and that it is then smooth sailing until the completion of the project. However, it is far too easy to get derailed if you do not dedicate adequate vigilance to monitoring the project. Do not overlook the details of the project or you will be reminded of them during the uncomfortable lessons learned meeting that folllows.
If you commit to working the plan during the entire project and dedicating energy and effort to control and monitoring, then you will have a greater chance of project and career success.