Projects can be quite the stress trigger, especially if you are a project manager. Challenges come in hordes when you’re trying to plan, execute and complete projects within budget and on time.
Without proper planning and management, projects can go awfully wrong, to the point where you completely abandon everything you have been working on and you will never be able to recover the time, money or resources spent on it.
Therefore, before you invest your company’s resources and your team’s time and effort on a certain project, it is crucial to take precautions. The tips below will not only help you hone your skills as a project manager, they will also help you ensure that the projects under your supervision move along smoothly.
Gather All the Details Related to the Project
As the project manager, it is your job to oversee all aspects of the project and make sure that the final target is met, within budget and on time. To get you on the right track, first you need to define the scope of the project – the work that needs to be done to reach the final goal.
By identifying objectives, tasks, budget, resources and schedule, you can create a detailed project scope. However, before you go ahead and assign team members, allocate resources and finalize the due dates, you need to ensure that the project scope is approved by everyone involved, from employees to stakeholders.
Select the Ideal Team
No matter how hard you may try, if the right team is not in place, you won’t be able to reach your project’s objectives. In fact, the success of the project relies on the experiences and skills of the team members. This is why it is essential to select the most ideal team.
And to select an effective team, you need to…
Use an Organizational Chart
What is an organizational chart? It’s basically a visual representation of your company’s structure. It illustrates the roles and responsibilities of employees and makes it easier for you to organize and align the available resources and talent, and pick the ideal team members before starting to assign tasks.
You can also create an org chart based on the project, with the project manager at the top. Under each team member, you can mention the task she is in charge of (and other information as necessary). Such an org chart makes it easier for you to keep track of everyone involved and clearly illustrate the reporting structure as well.
Provide All Necessary Resources
Attending to the requirements of the project team is a major responsibility of a project manager. Whether it is extra laptops, extra hours in the conference room or a health issue a project team member is facing, you need to be able to provide sensible solutions.
For example, if a team member who works on a major part of the project needs to take leave due to an unexpected reason, you need to be able to replace her with someone else before it affects the project.
Thus, you need to make sure that team members are getting what they want and ensure that the project is progressing without any disruptions, at all times.
Set Milestones to Monitor Progress
Milestones in a project signify a major event (such as completing half the project) in the project timeline. As such, they are a great way to monitor the progress of the project and detect any risk that might cause a problem.
You can conduct an evaluation at the end of each milestone, which will allow you to get rid of any problem early on and find effective solutions with the help of the team. That said, it is important not to set long-term milestones too far ahead because they can delay the evaluation process and prevent you from discovering if there are any risks involved.
Strengthen Internal Communication
When a team is working together to achieve one common goal, there needs to be an environment in which team members can communicate smoothly with each other. The easiest way to do this is not by putting them in the same room; it’s easier to strengthen communication between them via online collaboration software such as Skype or Slack.
Using such software, not only can team members communicate with each other in real time no matter where they are and maintain multiple chats at the same time, they can also save a lot of time that would otherwise have been wasted on ad hoc meetings.
Be Proactive in Managing Risks
If you have already set project milestones accompanied by evaluations, the chances of any risks arising should be minimal. Nevertheless, any unexpected external or internal threat could sabotage your efforts in accomplishing your goals. Being prepared to face such unpredicted challenges is called risk management.
Embedding risk management into the project is an important step. With the help of the experience you and the other team members have, and with daily or weekly project reviews and seamless communication, you will be able to identify risks before they become actual problems.
Be an Exemplary Leader
As the project manager, you are in charge of guiding your team. As much as it is your job to optimize the skills of your team for a speedy completion of the project, you should also be able to empathize with the fellow team members and understand that they have a life outside work as well.
The project manager should also be adept in solving problems, effective communication, team building, facing challenges without faltering, multitasking and being a mentor to the rest.
From the very beginning of choosing the right project that aligns with the strategies of the company, to the very end when the final product is tested and delivered, a project manager needs to be on alert. These tips will help you get on the right track of project management from the initial stage of planning to the very end.
Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Cinergix, the team behind the development of the organizational chart software, Creately. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.