If you have a career in project management, you probably have a strong foundation of principles and a handy toolkit to manage projects to completion. However, is your arsenal equipped to successfully deliver projects in a manner that is effective, beneficial yet challenging and is concluded with a well-deserved sense of accomplishment, pleased stakeholders and happy customers? If not, let me tell how you can reduce the issues, increase your effectiveness as a project manager, and deliver successfully.
Below are 10 tips to manage projects effectively:
- Understand the Intricate Details of the Project – As a project manager, a strong project manager, you should know the inner workings of the project. You are the go-to person, the liaison between the customer and the project team, and the contact for the stakeholders. In other words, the person who is accountable/responsible for the project. Therefore, it is essential that you know what is going on with the project. You should be able to answer questions about the project, be able to direct questions to the appropriate person or be resourceful enough to obtain the information that is requested. You are not called to be the expert of the different aspects of the project. However, you connect the moving parts and should be able to provide information or know how to retrieve information that is needed.
- Ensure Requirements Are Clearly Defined and Agreed – In order for any project to be successful the requirements must be properly defined. The requirements phase could be handled differently on each project. Some projects you may have to collect requirements with various specialized resources such as business analysts, and activities such as JAD sessions, customer meetings etc. Other projects may already have the requirements documented from previous work that was done. Nevertheless, as a project manager, you have to ensure the requirements whether collected or already documented are clearly defined and agreed with an understanding between the customer and the project team. A clear set of defined, documented and agreed requirements result in effective planning that leads to successful outcomes.
- Build Trust Among the Project Team and Stakeholders – It is easier to motivate others to do when they can trust you. Start building trust from the very start of meeting with your project team by being honest, setting clear expectations, treating others with respect, being knowledgeable about the project (reference tip #1) and exuding confidence. Also, often demonstrate and convey to your team members that their contributions matter.
- Lead by Example – It is important to not only set clear expectations, but it important for you as a leader to adhere to expectations set for you. Demonstrate the following attributes and watch the infectiousness of it. Have an enthusiasm for the project, demonstrate a can-do attitude, respect others and successfully deliver. Others will gladly get on board to support the objectives.
- Communicate Effectively – Communication is the vessel of projects and key to relationships. Therefore, ensure your communication serves its purpose. In order to communicate effectively, you should connect with others and make sure your messaging is clear and can be understood. Connecting with others require actively listening, finding common ground, simplifying the message and showing kindness.
- Set Expectations – It’s extremely difficult to get to an unknown place if you don’t have clear directions. Set the expectations. Make sure your team knows what is expected of them. Some expectations are not at all fun. However, knowing what you have to do is necessary in accomplishing the goals. Ensure that each team member knows what is expected of him/her.
- Monitor the Work – In order to know what work is getting done, you have to pay attention to the work being done. Ask the questions. Meet with the team on a regular basis to ensure that expectations are adhered, tasks are in progress to completion, and to identify any risks or quickly resolve issues that may arise. If you are not monitoring the work, your project is at a greater risk for spinning out control and failing. Stay on top of what is going on. This also helps you to provide status updates to stakeholders at all levels.
- Identify and Manage Risks – Every project is at risk for some sort of negative incident that could possibly occur. Identify what those risks are and do the proper due diligence to assess by determining the probability and impact, identifying the triggers to that risk and have a mitigation plan in place for those priority scenarios. This can save your project from a whole lot of heartache, extra work and extra costs. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
- Address Issues – Let’s face it, issues will occur. However, with effective risk management, you can prevent some issues from occurring. However, experiencing some sort of issue is inevitable. Therefore, when an issue occurs, jump on it immediately. Evaluate, bring together the right people to discuss and determine the best course of action to resolve. Address issues in a timely manner to resolve and also ensure the key stakeholders are aware. You don’t want the issue to snowball. You also don’t want your stakeholders to be surprised with problems that have exacerbated and grown.
- Follow up, follow up and follow up – Don’t allow things to fall through the cracks. Always follow up. Your team will thank you later.