There has been considerable debate in the corporate world over the usefulness of project managers. Some naysayers claim that project management isn’t necessary and that teams of workers should be able to organize and run themselves without being “herded” by another employee.
While it is probably true that some small businesses or one-man-shows can function effectively without a project manager, the position serves a very important role for enterprises that involve more than a handful of people. Project managers provide much needed organization, motivation, and leadership that ensure projects are successfully completed in a timely manner.
But project management generally isn’t something that you can just dive into – it is an acquired skill that must be developed. If you’re new to project management, here are some essential tips that will keep your project running smoothly.
Begin with a solid foundation.
When you want to build a house, you first have to begin with a solid foundation which will support the rest of the construction. This same principle applies to the world of project management. Before starting any project, you need to make sure you have completed the necessary preparation. This includes getting confirmation of buy in from all stakeholders, gaining a firm grasp of stakeholder expectations, identifying a project scope, developing definitive project goals, determining tracking and evaluation criteria, and ensuring that all legal and governmental rules and regulations will be met.
Assemble your team.
A good indicator of the future success of the project is the caliber and compatibility of the team members behind it. During the preparation phase you should have generated a list of required team roles. Now you need to identify workers who can fulfill the requirements of each of those distinct roles. It is up you, the project manager, to properly align worker skills with project requirements.
Be a great leader.
This may sound simple, but being an outstanding leader doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Leadership isn’t just about directing and managing people, it’s also about being a subtle force of guidance and team cohesion. And the best leaders don’t find it trivial to serve as their team’s “cheerleader” – boosting morale and motivation.
Set up milestones.
The time to evaluate whether or not a project is going well isn’t at the very end – that’s why setting up concrete milestones at various intervals of the project is key. Milestones allow you to assess the progress of the project at certain defining moments. If things aren’t running as smoothly as you had hoped then you can identify the issue and amend it to get the project back on track.
Maintain open communication.
Seasoned project managers will tell you that communication is one of the most important factors in determining the success of a project. As project manager, you must ensure that the lines of communication are wide open at all times. This includes keeping in touch with both your team members and stakeholders.
Use project management software.
Speaking of communication, there is comprehensive project management software available that not only can help you maintain excellent communication throughout the completion of a project, it also helps with setting up milestones and team member check-ins. This software is a great way to oversee all of the project activity without the need to “micro-manage” every individual involved, which can be detrimental to their critical thinking and creativity. The software makes for a streamlined project management position, and happier, more productive team members.
Evaluate and reassess.
After the project is completed and stakeholders have gone home happy, it’s time to use the evaluation standards you set up in your initial step to determine how successful the project really was and also if you would change anything in future projects.
Project management is a learning process, and some even say an art; but if you follow these essential tips and take advantage of useful tools like project management software, you’ll be leading your team like an old pro in no time.
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Written by Manfredi Bargioni of Hydra Management, a UK based resource management software company company that optimizes resource utilization.