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Stellenbosch Open Day. Book your seat for Stellenbosch’s Open Day on the 30th of January 2021. RSVP before the 27th of January 2021. RSVP now.

How to ‘wing it’ as an ‘accidental’ project manager

You get into the elevator and your boss says, “Can you just run this project?”. You say yes, of course, but now what? Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could snap our fingers and Voila! things – just – happen? In the real world, it doesn’t work that way. Organisations must use projects to drive change, step-by-carefully-planned-and-implemented-step.


What is project management?

Projects are how organisations make things happen. They process and deliver the changes that improve services to customers and increase organisational and operational effectiveness.

More formally defined, project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints (usually scope, budget and time).


What is the role of the project manager?

A project manager is a person who has the overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of a project. Construction, petrochemical, architecture, information technology and many different industries that produce products and services use this job title.


While there is no single way to ensure project management success, we have managed to scrape together these tips for you from We have summarised them for you here:


  1. Know the project inside out

Identify the clients and the stakeholders and understand their interests and expectations regarding the project. Then develop a solid project plan where the roles and the job responsibilities are clearly defined. To make planning more effective, you can establish measurable and trackable success criteria to make sure if the project is on the track or not.


  1. Identify the project requirements

Project resources are the key factors that contribute in making a project successful. Once the plan is developed, create a team capable of implementing the plan effectively.


  1. Get a qualified project manager

In order to make sure the project is progressing in the right direction, it’s essential to appoint a qualified project manager. A project manager who is credible enough will leave no stone unturned to make the project a success. With the right training, this could be you!


  1. Define critical milestones

The success of the project depends upon the identification of the defining moments throughout the project. This can be done by providing the life cycle of a project which includes the main phases such as initiation, planning, execution and closure. You can perform an evaluation test after every phase.


  1. Communication is the key

To run a project smoothly, consistent effective communication needs to take place between the stakeholders and clients and new changes should be communicated to the team members to avoid ‘surprise attacks’.



  1. Tap into team members strengths and weaknesses

An effective manager will always make an effort to get to know about his team members inherent strengths and weaknesses so that he can allocate work accordingly. Tapping into the strengths of team members will definitely ensure faster task completion and better time management. With everyone in a team putting their best foot forward and making the most of their strengths, the project will be nothing less than a success.


  1. Use a Project management tool

Technology has given many gifts to the project managers with online project management software topping the list. The software acts as a big store-house of all the relevant project information. From files to documents, file-sharing to giving feedback, effective communication to seamless collaboration — project management software acts as a centralized platform for everything and everyone in the team.


  1. Manage potential risks

Risk management being one of the imperative project management practices today is essential for project success. Risks are the potential threats that can creep anytime and can jeopardize the whole progress in a project. To make sure your project is successful, potential risks need to be identified beforehand so that effective measures can be taken if they arise in the need of the hour.


  1. Test deliverables

To guarantee project management success, the deliverables should be tested at every critical milestone. Doing this gives you a fair idea whether the project is what it was planned to be. Testing deliverables are crucial to determine whether it is meeting or exceeding the expectations. If any fallacies are encountered, corrective measures can be taken immediately to bring it back on track.


  1. Evaluation of project

Each project can be a learning tool. An effective manager will always review the project as a whole, as well as analyse various project components. By doing so, he can note down the successes in a project, what went wrong in the project, and what can be improved for future projects.


If you want to take your project management career a little more seriously, then it’s time to upskill with the IMM Graduate School’s online short course in Project Management. This online short course will give you a broad understanding of project management, taking you through the cycle of a project (from conception to completion) and the requirements needed at each stage. You’ll explore a range of tools, techniques and standards developed by professional organisations for effective project management and you’ll take a look at your own organisation’s project implementation process. With a focus on the harder skills required in project management, you’ll master the practical capabilities necessary to define, create, plan, implement, control and complete a project successfully.


Because employees in all types of roles participate in projects, this course is suitable for people across the workforce. So, if you’re new to project management and wanting to lead or to contribute to projects more effectively, this course is for you. It’s presented by The Open University, a UK-based online learning and research university and an industry leader in executive education and upskilling the workforce. Their ultimate goal is to be world leaders in the design, content and delivery of supported open learning. How about making your next project personal…? You! Sign up, invest in yourself and learn to implement change personally and professionally with the IMM Graduate School. Go to:


During this course you will have the capable Christa Bonnet to mentor you.


Christa Bonnet: Head Tutor, Executive and Business Management Professional, Business Strategist and Transformative Trainer

While you study this course, you will be supported by your head tutor Christa Bonnet, an industry leader and trainer extraordinaire. Christa will be your go-to person, facilitating online tutorials and discussions with your fellow students in your group, as well as, being available for individual queries and help if you need it. She’ll also be the one carefully marking your work-based activity.

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity: Why project management is essential in a VUCA world

Some fifteen years ago I received an amazing gift. On the first of May of that year, I started as a regional manager with a company involved in a merger. I received three things: my new laptop already set up to start working, a printer in a box, and a file. In the folder were details of a three-day project management course I had to attend, with the details of another few days to do a course on the MS Project programme.

Those courses changed the way I approached projects and events. We were taught how to do everything – small and big, personal and work projects – as a way of working through a project management approach. Today, that is still how I tackle my deliverables at work and commitments in my personal life.

Acquiring project management skills is a gift each person needs to give themselves.

It is important to know what project management is and what the role of a project manager is –especially when implementing a strategic marketing campaign.

According to the PMI Standards Committee (1987), project management is the “the art of directing and co-ordinating human and material resources throughout the life of a project by using modem management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality, and participant satisfaction”.

Every project – no matter its nature or industry – has five stages in the process: defining the project, creating the business case, planning the project, implementation and control as well as completion and close-out on each project to measure its success.

According to the IMM GSM, in today’s world of business it has become evident organisations that perform best tend to be those that manage projects better and quicker. Previously, it was acceptable when project managers were mainly trained as technical specialists when required to deliver complex, technical programmes of work. No longer.

The VUCA world of work

In the VUCA world of work, more innovative marketing strategies are inspired by strategic foresight and visionary leadership to deal with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. As a result, more and more organisations across sectors expect a wide range of staff to adopt a project management approach as part of a strategic approach. More managers are allocated to project teams – often outside the normal line management structures –tasked with delivering changes and improvements to goods, services and operations on time and within budget.

What does project success mean in a VUCA world? In an era when marketing projects have become increasingly common in organisations, this question is more relevant than ever. In answering, Shenhar et al. (2001) remind us that the distinctive skills and roles of the project manager have become much more widespread and has become a strategic imperative in marketing.

No matter what the motivation for the project, the question of its success is strongly linked to an organisation’s effectiveness. Central to this, it has become important to attend to front-end matters before jumping in and just ‘doing’ the project (IMM). In a VUCA environment, marketing projects require team members to devote more time to the early phases of their assignments.

It is crucial that the objectives, options and processes in marketing projects (including events) are clearly defined at the beginning; otherwise the success of marketing projects comes into jeopardy with adverse impact on the organisation.

Skills required to be successful in marketing in a VUCA world require specific training. According to the IMM, key skills for project managers are technical (i.e. knowledge of the business sector in which the project is being conducted; and interpersonal (i.e. communicating to and managing effectively the different parties with a stake in the project) in nature.

Three essential skills

Project managers need certain skills to ensure successful marketing projects. According to the IMM, these skills are defined in three categories.

Firstly, human skills are vital to ensure the ability to mobilise the mental and emotional energy of their sub-ordinates, team members and stakeholders involved in marketing projects. Developing human skills will also allow marketing managers to cope with situations by having an open mind, flexibility, patience and persistence.

Furthermore, project managers that focus on their own personal development through becoming a leader of self with a high emotional maturity display high self-esteem and a more empathetic approach in their dealings with both internal and external stakeholders.

Secondly, technical skills are needed for in-depth project knowledge and in the understanding methods, processes and procedures as well as specific knowledge in the use of project management tools and techniques.

Lastly, conceptual and organisational skills are required in terms of organising, planning, strong problem orientation skills and the ability to visualise the relationship of the project to the industry and the community.

Three project management techniques

Through such training marketing professionals will learn to identify why a marketing project may fail, how to avoid any failure, how to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of projects, and how to measure project success to meet time, budget and quality goals with stakeholders.

Furthermore, training should introduce the three main project management techniques that have been become prevalent in organisations:

  • Agile project management
  • Integrated project teams; and
  • Heavyweight project management (IMM)

Within the VUCA world, many organisations are now starting to adopt one or more of these techniques when delivering certain projects, and although no substitute for core traditional project management skills, they are proving useful in certain projects.

In closing, project management has become a strategic imperative for marketing. There is a solid business case with an associated return on investment (ROI) to implement a project management approach in marketing projects to understand the cost drivers for a project, identify its risks and strategies for managing them, and to develop contingency plans to ensure their success.