5 Tips To Ensure Internal Project Management Success

Five Tips To Ensure Internal Project Management Success

If you’ve been tapped to be the point person working with a partner (or partners) on a project for your organization, congrats!  Welcome to the wonderful world of being a project manager.  Whether you know it or not, you have a huge role to play in the success of your project.  We’ve polled our team of project manager superstars to get their take on some fundamental keys to success. 

Define Internal Roles & Responsibilities

Chances are that you have at least several other people on your internal project team.  What are your expectations about the roles they will play?  What parts of the project work will they be responsible for?  Getting everyone on the same page about what you need them to do helps you start off on the right foot as a team.

Set Communication Expectations Early

Do you want weekly updates or is a daily blast better for you?  Will it take you a few days to respond to a question or will you reply within an hour or so?  Where will your various notes, worksheets and other materials live within your organization?  It’s a great idea to define your needs and expectations as early as possible – this helps your team form good habits and can prevent misunderstandings down the road.

Hold Regular Internal Project Meetings

Sure, you have regular meetings with your external project partners.  You also need to have some time for discussing and deciding amongst yourselves.  Draft an agenda and stick to it.  Table the other stuff that comes up for follow up later.  Set aside 30-60 minutes each week for you to keep the conversation going.  Hint: Scheduling these internal calls to take place right before your full project meetings can often work very well.

Educate Yourself

If your project includes new online tools, new features or new functionality, you’ll need to get a little book smart (although you probably won’t use an actual book).  Give yourself the time you need to learn how to use the new tools, what they can do and what they can’t do.  Watch a webinar.  Get a sandbox and play around.  It’s up to you to dedicate some time to learning on your own.

Be Optimistically Realistic

It takes an optimist to be able to inspire and lead others.  No one follows an Eeyore (at least not willingly).  Having a positive frame can help you and your team when you are in the project weeds.  That said, it’s also important to be a realist.  If you need a miracle to achieve a specific project-related goal, it’s probably going to end in tears and your adult beverage of choice.  It’s much better to work within the laws of what is possible and pop the cork when your project wraps on time.

What other tips would you add to this list?  Add a comment and let’s have a conversation!

Learn more about our client-focused approach – contact us at info@fireflypartners.com!

Maureen Wallbeoff

About Maureen Wallbeoff

Maureen Wallbeoff, Vice President at Firefly Partners, began her nonprofit career with Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. Over her 16 year tenure, she rose from clinic assistant to the Director of e-Business for the organization. She possesses more than a decade of online campaign development and project management, along with a deep understanding of the strategic business needs of the nonprofit sector. Maureen works closely with nonprofits and thought leaders in today’s online engagement spaces, creating win/win solutions that work. A skilled presenter and facilitator, Maureen loves to bring people together to have authentic conversations that create consensus within an organization.


  1. I’m a little late to the party, but one team-cohesion technique we use is “Today I . . .” messages. At the end of the day, each team member writes a “Today I . . . .” (that’s the subject line) email to everyone else on the team with brief bullet points on what they did that day. We encourage the addition of a final bullet with something funny, an interesting link, or a personal note to make it more personable. We can all quickly see what each of us is doing and individually follow up on those items that involve us. And at the end of the month I can use my concatenated messages to fill out my timesheet.

    At first I thought this was overkill, but as we all did it, I saw how this saved time and avoided duplication of effort.

    • Bryan Giese

      I’ve used this myself Rob, and I agree. It also helps me feel like I actually got something done at the end of the day, or if I need to try harder tomorrow. 🙂

  2. Hi Mauren,

    This post will help many project managers out there who are looking to make their project a success. I would like to republish it on PM Hut where many project managers will benefit from it.

    Please either email me or contact me through the contact us form on the PM Hut website in case you’re OK with this.

    PS: Please see this post: http://www.pmhut.com/how-to-become-a-project-manager that has some best practices for project managers:

  3. Susan Wright

    I would add that it is super helpful to identify the ultimate boss of the project and partnership. It is important to know the chain for elevating issues and who has what decision-making authority.

    • Ah Susan – you totally called it! Who is the final decider? Who do I go to when I need some help? What is our internal escalation path?

      Identifying the internal ‘roles’ will also help you know who needs to be involved in different parts of the project as it rolls along.

  4. Having an agenda for internal meetings is HUGE! Keeping a meeting short and focused makes them much more useful and less annoying to everyone involved. There are always new issues that come up.

    Any suggestions on how much time to spend on new topics, and how to manage them if they demand more time than available?

    • We often structure our internal meetings as a round table where each team member updates the team on what she has been working on and what is coming up. This format always brings those new issues that you were referring to, to light. Usually if a topic seems to be bogging down the meeting, we schedule a follow up meeting with a smaller group of people. That way, only the people that this issue really affects need to be involved, and it usually gets resolved more quickly.

      • Brilliant methodology, Susie! Managing new topics as they bubble up can be as simple as making some agreements about how your group will handle them.

        Your method also feels very collaborative and accountability-oriented…it allows everyone to give an update and makes them responsible for their own related action steps. I want to work on a project with YOUR team! 🙂

  5. Great tips Maureen! I agree that communication is the key for success of a project, both internally and externally.

    The imagery you describe in being optimistically realistic is perfect! “No one follows and Eeyore!”

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