Managing the Project . 10 Tips

Managing the Project: 10 Tips for Project Managers


Project management is an essential skill set for individuals working across various industries, as it involves planning, executing, managing the project team, controlling, and closing projects. It is an essential skill from junior management leading small improvements to managing large-scale transformation projects. With diverse project types and unique considerations for each, honing your project management skills will put you ahead of the curve.

The most effective project managers foster an environment that encourages team members to think outside the box, pushing boundaries, and envisioning what could be possible. They use their leadership to inspire their teams, fuelling enthusiasm and a sense of shared purpose.

Managing the Project: An Introduction

The project management process starts from taking a project for a concept to delivery. The role of the project manager and the project team is to ensure the project management process is followed to deliver the project objectives and ensure successful project execution. Managing projects can be nerve-racking for new project managers, but learning some project management principles makes effective project management a rewarding part of any career.

To help every project manager, each project team, and project team members, here is a list of critical items that help ensure the project’s progress in the right way towards the project success. By success, we mean that the project manager can manage the project project phases through to successful project closure.

Managing the Project - Successful Project Management

Clearly Define the Project Goals, Objectives, and Current Performance


A solid foundation is crucial for a project’s success. The project manager must outline the project goals and objectives, ensuring they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). From there, assess the current performance and set benchmarks for progress evaluation. This clear direction will allow you to focus on your deliverables and monitor progress throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Example: In a website redesign project, the goal may be to increase user engagement by 20% within six months. The current user engagement rate should be determined before setting the objective.
Too often, the project team delivers, but the team is never sure if they succeeded because the baseline for improvement was never set. This is the project manager’s fault in not ensuring that the project scope, project objectives, project schedule, project budget, and project team are aligned from the beginning.

Estimate and Allocate Resources and Budgets Mindfully


Proper resource allocation and budgeting are critical to a sustainable project and a critical part of the project manager’s job. Consider available resources (human, financial, and material) and estimate their usage throughout. This estimation should include project overheads, contingency plans, and potential setbacks. Maintain transparency among team members and stakeholders to boost trust and accountability. A range of project management templates are out there to help ensure resources and budgets are aligned.

Example: In a software development project, consider allocating developers, testers, designers, and project managers, as well as estimating license costs, equipment, and training expenses. Once again, this is all part of the project manager role to ensure the project successfully delivers on time and on budget.

"Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward."

Develop a Comprehensive Project Plan


A carefully designed project plan helps track progress and identify potential issues before they escalate. Consider including timelines, resource allocation, risk analysis, and dependencies. This might sound boring, but if you build a comprehensive project plan (and be willing to update and change it as things change) you will find life becomes more accessible and the project moves forward. It is worth considering various project management framework approaches that exist, but often simple is the best way to manage projects and ensure each project phase is going according to plan.

Example: Develop a Gantt chart to visually represent the project timeline, key milestones, and responsibilities of the team.


Ensure Regular Progress Monitoring and Reporting


Monitor the project’s progress continually, comparing it to the plan. Identify deviations and make necessary adjustments. Regular progress reports not only keep stakeholders informed but also enable proactive problem-solving. Now, project reviews should take place more often than you think. Try daily, if needed, to get real momentum every day, or try weekly. Avoid monthly as they quickly tumble in importance.

Example: Implement weekly progress meetings and updates to address any issues and celebrate achievements.

Leverage Suitable Project Management Tools


Project Management software and tools have been designed to aid in organizing, planning, and managing resources effectively. These project management software platforms streamline operations, centralize information, and automate repetitive tasks. It enables project managers to spend quality time analysing progress and strategising instead of getting caught up in low-value administrative tasks. However, the choice of tool should be carefully considered – not all tools are suitable for every project type or team.

For example, if you’re managing a software development project, tools such as Jira or Trello might be helpful, as they support agile methodologies. Both are SaaS-based project management software tools. If your project involves a lot of collaboration across teams, consider using a tool like Slack for real-time communication. Microsoft Project or Primavera would be beneficial for a project requiring complex resource management. Before you choose a tool, list down your project’s needs and base your decision on those requirements.

Remember, no tool is a one-size-fits-all solution. The effectiveness of any project management software or tool is not just about its features but how well it fits with your project’s needs, your team’s working style, and the organization’s culture.

Adopt a Risk Management Approach


Risk management is an integral part of project management. By identifying potential risks early, assessing their impact, and planning for their mitigation, you can significantly increase your project’s chances of success. This is not a one-time task, but a continuous process that needs to be integrated into your project lifecycle.

"Risk management is a proactive process that helps you respond to change and facilitate continuous improvement in your project. It should be seen as a tool to help you manage the project and not as a way to add additional paperwork."

Adopt a Risk Management Approach


Develop a systematic approach to risk management. Start by identifying potential risks that could derail your project. Ask yourself and your team, “What could go wrong?” Don’t overlook any potential risks, no matter how small they seem. Once identified, assess these risks in terms of their potential impact and likelihood of occurrence. This will help you prioritise risks and focus on the most likely to occur and have the most significant impact.

Mitigation strategies should be developed for the identified risks. This could involve reducing the likelihood of the risk, minimising its impact, or setting up a contingency plan. Involving the entire team in this process will give you a broader perspective and more comprehensive risk coverage.
Regularly review and update your risk management plan as the project progresses, as new risks may emerge and old ones may no longer be relevant. Ensure that all team members are aware of the risks and their roles in managing them.

Example: For a product launch project, potential risks could include delayed delivery from suppliers, technical glitches, negative customer feedback, and unforeseen market conditions. Depending on their assessed impact and likelihood, strategies could include having backup suppliers, rigorous testing, a robust customer service response plan, and market research to understand potential market changes.

Remember, risk management is not about eliminating all risks – that’s impossible. It’s about understanding, managing, and preparing for potential challenges to keep your project on track.

Example: One effective tool for risk management is the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). An FMEA is a brilliant Lean tool that helps teams identify potential failure modes in a system, product, or process. By analyzing the potential causes and effects of these failures, teams can prioritize risks and implement preventive measures. For instance, if you’re developing a new software, an FMEA could help you identify potential bugs, understand their potential impact on the user experience, and develop strategies to prevent or minimize these effects. Remember, the value of an FMEA comes not just from the tool itself, but from the systematic approach to risk management within Project management.

Foster a Collaborative Work Environment


A collaborative work environment is vital to the success of any project. It encourages team members to share ideas, learn from each other’s experiences, and work together towards a common goal. It’s not just about having meetings and discussions but about creating an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and heard. It is the Project management leaders role to create this as the manage a project.

Start by promoting open communication within the team. Encourage everyone to voice their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Make sure to listen actively and respond constructively. This will help to build trust amongst team members, which is crucial for effective collaboration.

In a collaborative work environment, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, but flexibility and interdependence exist. Team members understand their tasks but also how their work contributes to the overall project and are willing to help others when necessary.

Leverage technology to facilitate collaboration. Use collaborative tools for real-time communication, document sharing, and task tracking. These tools make it easier for team members to work together, even if they are not in the same location.

Remember, fostering a collaborative work environment is not a one-time task, but a continuous process. It requires regular feedback, recognition of individual and team efforts, and ongoing efforts to maintain a positive and inclusive atmosphere.

Example: If you’re managing a project that involves cross-functional teams, schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, share updates, and address any challenges. This keeps everyone on the same page and fosters a sense of unity and teamwork. Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Workspace can be highly effective for fostering collaboration and seamless communication.

Finally, remember that collaboration is not just about achieving project goals, but about creating a work culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and capable of contributing their best.

"Project management is like juggling three balls – time, cost and quality. Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives."

Document All Activities in a Task Management Software


Project management is also about ensuring the best project management processes happen. Proper documentation of all activities is a key aspect of successful project management. Utilise task management software like Asana, Jira, or Miro to keep an organised record of all tasks, big or small. Each task assigned should have an owner, a clearly defined deadline, and documented steps toward completion.

Start by listing all activities and tasks in your project. Then, assign each task to a team member, making them the owner of that task. This ensures accountability and gives everyone a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

Set realistic and specific deadlines for each task. Deadlines provide a timeline for the project and help in tracking progress. Remember to update these deadlines as necessary to reflect project schedule changes.

Always document the steps taken toward the completion of a task. This records the work done and can be valuable for future reference or if any discrepancies arise.

Task management software also allows for real-time updates and collaboration. Team members can communicate, share documents, and provide updates on their tasks within the platform, making project management more streamlined and efficient.

Example: If you’re using Asana for your project management, you can create a comprehensive task list, assign tasks to team members, set and update deadlines, and track progress all in one place. Team members can comment on tasks, attach documents, and mark tasks as complete, keeping everyone updated on the project’s progress.

Remember, the goal of using task management software is not just to keep a record of tasks but to enhance project management efficiency and transparency.

Be Ready to Celebrate Success with the Team


Finally, don’t overlook the importance of celebrating success with your team. Reaching milestones and achieving project goals is a testament to the team’s hard work, dedication, and collaboration, and it’s essential to recognise and celebrate these successes and a critical part of any project management phases.

Start with acknowledging the team’s efforts and expressing your gratitude. A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way in boosting morale and motivation. Celebrations don’t always have to be grand or expensive. A heartfelt note of appreciation, a virtual high-five, or a shout-out in a team meeting can make team members feel valued and recognised.

Plan small celebrations for each milestone reached. This could be a virtual team lunch, a fun team-building activity, or a simple recognition in the company newsletter. These celebrations recognise the team’s efforts and provide a welcome break from the routine, fostering camaraderie and a sense of unity among team members.

Celebrating success is also about reflecting on the journey, learning from the experience, and preparing for future projects. It’s a time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how the team can improve in future projects.

Example: At the end of a project, consider hosting a project wrap-up meeting. Use this opportunity to thank the team, review the project’s successes and challenges, and discuss lessons learned. This can be followed by a virtual celebration or a small token of appreciation for each team member.

Remember, recognising and celebrating success fosters a positive work environment where everyone feels valued. It enhances team spirit, boosts motivation, and reinforces a culture of appreciation and respect.

Conclusion to Project Management


Managing a project requires a blend of effective collaboration, comprehensive task management, and recognition of team success. Promoting a collaborative work environment aids in fostering trust amongst team members, with the use of technology facilitating real-time communication and task tracking.

Documenting all activities in task management software like Asana, Jira, or Miro ensures accountability, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and efficient tracking of progress. Celebrating success, big or small, boosts team morale and fosters a positive work culture. Recognition can come as a simple ‘thank you,’ a shout-out in a team meeting, or celebrating milestones with a virtual team lunch or team-building activities. Reflecting on the journey and learning from the experience prepares the team for future projects.

If you wish to learn more, check out the Project Management Institute, or to get real experience, join our Lean Six Sigma courses and get professional coaching and mentoring to deliver a real-world project.

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Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell is a highly accomplished professional with 15 years of experience in building lean management programs for corporate companies. With his expertise in strategy execution, he has established himself as a trusted advisor for numerous organisations seeking to improve their operational efficiency.

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