The best project managers are able to consistently deliver high-quality projects that meet or exceed their stakeholders’ expectations. These project managers have an intuitive understanding that strong leadership and people skills are just as important as expertise in project management processes and tools.
5 Tips For Better Project Management
Here are five tips that can help project managers complete projects on time, within budget and with the best results:
1. Understand Project Deliverables
The project manager is responsible for gathering and understanding project requirements up front, and for getting buy-in from stakeholders and management. The criteria for project success should be clearly defined and all requirements should be measurable. Once the requirements are agreed upon, it’s up to the project manager to create a detailed project plan. Individual team members may be given autonomy over the tasks they have been assigned, but the project manager should create and maintain an overall plan and schedule.
2. Assign Tasks According To Strengths
A project manager may be working with a predetermined team or have the responsibility for assembling a team. In either case, the project manager must understand the talents and strengths of each team member when assigning project tasks. These assignments can make or break a project. Once assignments have been made, the project manager needs to ensure that all team members understand their deliverables. The project manager must also identify and track interdependencies between team members and on resources outside the team.
3. Take Ownership And Be A Leader
Effective project managers take ownership for project deliverables. They use a wide range of leadership skills to influence and satisfy most of the people who are involved in their project. They coach and motivate team members, and inspire confidence in their management and project stakeholders. They ensure that the lines of communication are always open and that team dynamics are positive. Because they act like a leader, they are able to gain support when project challenges cause budget or schedule overruns.
4. Keep The Project On Track
This is probably the most important of the project manager’s responsibilities and is the area where ineffective project managers usually fall short. Project milestones corresponding to critical deliverables should be defined and tracked. Falling behind on a milestone should be treated as a red flag indicating that the overall project schedule may be at risk. During each milestone phase, the project manager should run interference for the team and limit stakeholders’ attempts at scope creep. The project manager must also have the foresight to recognize project risks and be able to realign resources or perform any other action that will minimize those risks.
5. Assess And Reflect
Once a project has been delivered, good project managers take some time to assess and look for areas of improvement. Some organizations refer to this as the project post-mortem or retrospective. The project manager meets with the team as a whole to discuss what went well and what didn’t. The post mortem takeaway should be a set of actionable ideas that will be used to improve the next similar project. Savvy project managers avoid post mortem surprises by communicating with team throughout the project about their concerns. They also keep the tone of the meeting positive by emphasizing the value of the team’s contribution.
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