There are two things about a project that make the area of project management different from day-to-day managerial duties. The first is that a project is temporary in nature and usually follows a set deadline up to its fulfillment; the second is that a project encompasses a particular set of objectives to be fulfilled.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), any one project should be divided into the following stages: (1) the initiation stage, (2) the planning stage, (3) the execution stage, (4) the monitoring stage, and (5) the closing stage. All of these require the special knowledge, talents, and technical savvy of a project manager, who will lead the project from its start up to its finish.
If this is your role in your company’s upcoming product launch, seasonal campaign, event, or a related project, you must be asking yourself: what more can I do to ensure that the project is a success? The answer lies in your demonstration of project management skills: how well you manage your time, how focused you are in attaining the project’s deliverables, and how motivated you can keep your project management team.
With that said, these six tips may help you become a better project manager. Keep these in mind in order to enhance your project management skills.
- Set realistic milestones, then let everyone in the team know of your progress. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of project management is spreading out tasks across a limited time period. Remember that it’s impossible to do everything in one go, and ill-advised to do too many things at the same time. For that reason, two of your duties as project manager are: (1) negotiating a day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month timeline for your project, and (2) assigning tasks in a given timeframe to be completed by the project team at a reasonable rate. Once you check off on major milestones, such as securing a launch venue or the approval of higher-ups, let everyone in the team know.
- Plan as far as you can with the project’s objectives in mind. Procrastination, complacency, and lack of preparedness are the three chief enemies of a project manager. You should never think that a potential problem will resolve itself, that there is only one solution for it, and that there will be no other obstacles for your team until the project comes to term. To be a good project manager, you must have backup plans for the worst-case scenarios in case they happen: sudden rain during a company concert, transportation problems for VIPs during a conference, technical difficulties, and the like. Always link these plans to the outcome you want for your project: for a launch to be successful, for participants to learn something important, and for positive attention to be drawn to your company.
- Find the right project management tools. Executing a project can be very stressful, and you and your team may already be working hard”but the question is, are you working smart? Are you making the best use of project management technologies that are available to you? If you aren’t, then you may want to explore tools that are dedicated to project management, such as Trello, Zoho, or Basecamp. These platforms may be just what your need team needs in order to stay organized, up-to-date, and efficient in their duties.
- Leave a paper trail. Do make sure to keep all the important documents you’re using for your project management”such as workflows, approval forms, event programs, lists of sponsors and participants, and protocols”so that anyone in the project management team can easily refer to them. This paper trail is also something you’ll want to have if you’ll be heading a similar project in the future.
- Play to your team members’ strengths. Want to ensure that individual tasks on your project will be done correctly? Entrust them to the right people on your team. It’s recommended that you play to their individual strengths. For example, those who enjoy working with new people can be tapped to contact external partners, while those who are good with numbers can be tasked with the project’s budget.
- Be transparent and communicative with each other. Don’t limit your communication with the project team to the project’s successes. Practice telling them when you’re having problems, too. High morale isn’t the only thing a project management team needs”the best team comprises both leaders and subordinates who can be forthright with each other. Don’t forget how much your team members can do to help and support you.
Lastly, who is to say that this current project will be the only chance you have to demonstrate your skills? If you’ve done so, you may be asked to head a similar endeavor in the future. Once your current project has ended, do make time to process what went right, what went wrong, where the missed opportunities lie, and what points of improvement all team members can adapt. That approach will result in more successful company projects”and better, more well-equipped project managers.