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10 project management lessons from the Titanic disaster

1: You need to know what you’re measuring
Frederick Brook says, milestones should be objectively measurable. If you do not have valid measurements for your project, you will run into problems.

2: Assumptions can kill you
Maybe we assumed that a particular system was using a newer software release than it actually was. 
Maybe we assumed that another department would take care of ordering cable.
Maybe we assumed that the vendor received our critical email message. 
Assumptions are important in your work, but if you proceed on the basis of them, make sure everyone is clear about what assumptions you are making.

3: Distractions are dangerous
If enough members of your team encounter enough distractions, your project will gradually fall behind.

4: Little things add up
The small delays are just as critical as the large ones, meaning that adherence to milestones is critical to the success of a project.

5: Stakeholders should be kept informed
Our stakeholders need to know about the status and progress of your project. Keeping them informed will keep them happier.

6: Other people’s perspectives matter
If a client asks a question, try to see beyond the question itself to the motivation behind the question. 
If a technical person is explaining a function of a system or program, make sure the explanation avoids jargon. 
Clear communication will lead to happier clients.

7: Moving targets can hurt you
Any change is rarely “small.” Rather, it typically involves changes to other parts of a system, results in greater complexity, and requires more testing.

8: Traceability is essential
How familiar are you with the strategic objectives of your company? 
Can you find a logical connection between the requirements of your project and those strategic objectives? 

9: Methodology is more important than technology
You might want to use sophisticated planning and tracking software and tools. 
More important, though, is that your plan be solid. 
The best software in the world will not save a poorly designed plan.

10: Documentation may have lasting benefits
Documentation is often the most important part of the project because it may exist long after the project team has disbanded.

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