Today’s workforce has changed. In the past, people were more than happy to find a job and work it for decades without being particularly driven by the need for advancement. Advancement and progression opportunities are far more important to employees today. However, with these promotions and upward progression comes more responsibility and, often, more stress. Project management is often one of the first stepping stones towards management that you are likely to experience, and it isn’t necessarily easy. This is why we have put together the following guide to ensure that you excel within this new role and opportunity.
An Overview of Project Management
Project management is obviously rather self-explanatory. It is when you are placed in charge of a project, overseeing it and the staff working on it from its conception through to the end result. Strategies for project management are, therefore, simply systems that you implement in order to make your leadership more effective overall to ensure that the project is a success. Sometimes, these strategies will need to evolve as each phase of the project progresses. They help to provide the foundation for a successful outcome.
Start by Outlining Your Goals & Expectations
One of the first things that you should do is to clearly define the goals of the project and ensure that these, along with your expectations for the staff, are communicated to them clearly. It helps to provide the team with a focus. Obviously, the end goal is likely to be the success of the project. This doesn’t mean that you can’t identify other goals to help along the way. The goals should also be adaptable; you are likely to experience changes throughout the product, especially if its completion relies on external factors beyond your control. Adjustable goals help to make sure that regardless of changes or issues, you can still ensure that the project is completed successfully. For some businesses, it might make sense to implement OKRs into your company with the help of 1ovmany.
Estimating the Scope of the Project
This should also be one of the first things that you do when taking on a project management role. For the most part, this is likely to be provided to you when you are asked to head up the project, although this is not always the case. Sometimes, you are only provided with the scantest of details. In order to lead the project to success, you need to have a holistic view of it from the outset. This means understanding everything that the project is going to entail in terms of budget, timescales, and workload too. Depending on the project, it might also be necessary to research the client’s needs, learn more about your team and research the project as a whole too. This puts you in a better stead to allocate resources and assign tasks to ensure things progress in a timely fashion.
Communication is Key
This is true of any management role. Communication is vital for any project in order to ensure that everyone on the team understands their role and their workload. It also helps to keep all of the relevant parties, whether that is the upper echelons of management, clients, or other relevant third parties like suppliers or outsourced labor, abreast of the progression of the project. Now, not all communicative efforts are efficient or purposeful. Effective communication relies on clear, concise information being communicated in a timely manner using appropriate mediums.
Always Encourage Teamwork
Most projects rely on teamwork to an extent. They tend to require the input and collaboration of multiple people and sometimes even different departments. This is why you should try to encourage teamwork. In some instances, you might inherit the team or be expected to work with an existing team, and in others, you might be able to choose your team. Either way, it is important that you lead by example. In addition to heading up the project, you should try to actively participate whenever you can. You should also ensure that you are providing the team with all of the tools and resources that they need for the project. Some of them can even help to aid in collaboration.
As the project manager, it will also be your responsibility to identify risks to the projects. These risks could endanger the timeline, outcome, or financial standing of the project, all of which could derail it. This is why you should conduct a thorough risk analysis at the outset of the project. Identifying risks before the project gets underway can help you to have potential solutions in place, should you encounter obstacles throughout the duration of the project. It is all about ensuring that you are not surprised; it helps to make sure that the project remains on track.
Keep Notes on the Process
This is especially important if this is your first project management opportunity. The likelihood is that you will have someone to answer to throughout this process despite the fact that you have a team answering to you. Keeping meticulous notes throughout the project is important. It becomes a guide for the project. During each phase, you can review the methodology to see what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Once the project is finished, the documentation then becomes an invaluable resource for future projects. It can also help when you have meetings with your boss; you can keep them abreast of any and all developments.
In addition to keeping notes on the performance of your staff, it is also advisable that you not only accept but actively encourage feedback from your staff, other members of management, and any relevant business contacts like stakeholders, clients, and suppliers. This can help you to improve your management style and your approach to the project as a whole. Sometimes encouraging feedback can be tricky because some people feel uncomfortable giving feedback to those in power above them. Sending out emails and surveys which people can fill out anonymously can rid them of uncomfortableness or anxiety, and allow them to deliver honest feedback.
Celebrate the Small Wins & Milestones
Some projects, depending on their nature, can last for several months and involve intensive, thorough work, which can become tedious at times. It is really easy for the staff to become bored or disengaged; when this happens, standards slip, and sometimes the project can be compromised. This is precisely why it is important to find ways to buoy the staff. This can be done by celebrating the small wins and each milestone as it is achieved. It makes the staff feel revitalized and refreshed as they then make start working towards the next milestone. It also ensures that you are providing them with the recognition that they deserve.
The Bottom Line
Project management is often seen as one of the first rungs of the management ladder. If you can manage a project successfully, you are more likely to be thought of when other opportunities arise. It can also provide you with content for your CV if you want to apply to management roles externally in the future. The above is obviously not an exhaustive guide on how to approach project management, but it does provide an excellent base from which to build using the specifics of your industry and the project itself. Good luck!