10 Key Project Management Principles for Project Success

April 20th, 2021 in Project Management

10 Key Project Management Principles for Project Success

Project management principles are the fundamental rules that should be followed for the successful management of projects. Currently, the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) does not contain an official list of principles for successful projects. We believe that these are the ten principles of project management:

10 Key Project Management Principles

  • Formal project management structure
  • Invested point of contact
  • Clear goals and outcomes
  • Documented roles and responsibilities
  • Risk recognition
  • Strong change management
  • Value delivery capabilities
  • Performance management baseline
  • Communication plan
  • Transparency principle

Formal Project Management Structure

A project needs a formalized structure. This structure should include processes, procedures, and tools. Completing a project without a formalized structure is very difficult, and will likely take longer than anticipated. Projects should have a project charter, project plan, and designated project team with the required skills.

Point of contact

An effective point of contact is key for a successful project. Your point of contact will act as spokesperson to other executives in your organization. Having a set point of contact makes it easier to communicate, escalate issues, and guide stakeholders through big decisions regarding the project.

Goals and outcomes

Without requirements and approval criteria it will be difficult to measure a project’s success. It’s hard to know if a project was successful without criteria to define what success is.

One of the most common factors behind a failed project is a lack of clear objectives and goals. The objectives should be approved and reviewed by all key stakeholders, the point of contact, and the customer.

Goals should be defined with the SMART paradigm (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound).

Risk Recognition

No project comes without risks, and this is normal. Risks can affect your technology, resources, or processes. It is important to minimize risks or eliminate the potential impact of a risk to your project. To do so you must identify areas of risk, evaluate the impacts and monitor them constantly.

Management of project changes

A well-defined scope is needed to ensure the outcomes of the project meet customer expectations. Without strong change management, a project may suffer from scope creep, pushing it to grow larger than the initial project guidelines.

Team members and stakeholders may want to add additional features to a project, however, if they don’t carefully control change you could end up with a product that costs significantly more than the client’s budget.

It is not enough just to know a risk may arise for a certain project, you also should have a plan in place to resolve the issue before it becomes problematic. This means giving a team member a role to watch out and identify that risk.

Value delivery capabilities

Your value delivery capabilities are your project management tools, process, and procedures that you use to deliver value to your customers. This can include your planning sessions and level of detail in your scope of work, or the project management methodology that you apply.

Performance management baseline

A project often has 3 basic components: costs, scheduling, and scope. Each of the components should have a baseline where performance can be measured. When the baselines are integrated they become a performance management baseline.

Once you have a performance management baseline, if you change any one component it will be reflected on the others.

For example, you have a scope change. With your performance management baseline, you can see how the scope change will impact your project schedule as well as the cost. This will allow you to monitor the overall effect that a change has on the project.

Roles and responsibilities

It is important to know who is responsible for what, and what is expected of them. The duties you should be assigned are responsibility, accountability, sign-off authority, consultant, and involvement. These are the defining roles for responsibility and setting proper accountability.

From there you then need standards to be accountable for, such as your performance management baseline. An added benefit to accountability is you are able to view top performers and reward them, as well as spot underperformers to help them improve.


In project management communication is 90% of the job. For a project to be successful, you must communicate project activities, project risks, issues, and statuses with all team members and stakeholders.

You can use flowcharts, structure plans, and milestones as powerful tools to help you stay on track and have visibility of the project for other stakeholders.

gantt timeline

Some specific areas that benefit from communication are:

  • Coordinating tasks and schedules
  • Timely decision making and problem-solving
  • Identifying and resolving conflicts in a timely manner


Transparency in a project is reporting on the progress of the project to all stakeholders and parties involved. No aspect of the project should be hidden from them.

Of course, key stakeholders should only be informed on key points, they do not need minute-by-minute updates on the project. For this reason, setting milestones is ideal for progress regarding budget, schedule, and key tasks.

On the other side, you should keep your team in the loop with the small details. Having reports, updates, and ongoing project tracking is key to keeping everyone informed on the project.

There are many more principles to project management, but these give you a roadmap towards success. If you want to learn about how Slenke can help you with project management book a Slenke demo today.

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