Everybody wants to be project managers who successfully oversee diverse projects that wow our superiors. That’s because project management is essential for professionals looking to demonstrate their full potential in today’s dynamic business environment.
From defining clear project objectives and scope to allocating resources efficiently, take advantage of the actionable advice below and enhance your project management skills to achieve greater project success.
Project management has emerged as a vital discipline that drives success and ensures the efficient execution of initiatives. Project management involves applying knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to achieve specific project objectives within defined constraints.
It provides a structured framework for planning, organizing, and controlling various project elements, from resources and timelines to budgets and risks. The significance of project management in business cannot be overstated. It serves as a powerful mechanism for achieving strategic goals, fostering innovation, and adapting to ever-changing market demands.
By embracing project management principles, businesses can enhance productivity, collaboration, and overall project success, ultimately gaining a competitive edge in the market.
“Project management plans should be clear about the entire project lifecycle, including what are the project requirements, what the project scope is, and what kind of project management tools will be implemented.” – CRM.org
A well-executed planning phase sets the foundation for achieving project objectives. During this crucial step, your planning phase should include:
This involves identifying the desired outcomes, deliverables, and specific criteria. In this first step, project managers can set realistic expectations and ensure that each action will achieve the goal.
Breaking down the project into manageable phases and setting clear deadlines for each milestone enables effective monitoring and progress tracking. It also promotes a sense of accountability among team members and helps identify any deviations from the original plan.
Project managers must assess resource availability and skill requirements and allocate them efficiently. This includes assembling a project team with the right mix of expertise and assigning appropriate roles and responsibilities to each team member.
Developing a realistic project budget is vital for financial control and resource allocation. Project managers should consider all costs associated with the project, including personnel, materials, equipment, and any external services required. Project managers can proactively manage costs and avoid budget overruns by creating a detailed budget and regularly monitoring expenses.
A strategic planning phase allows project managers to establish a solid foundation for successful execution.
A team that’s on the same page at all times lies at the heart of successful project execution. A cohesive and communicative team can drive project progress and correct course when challenges arise. The main needs for effective team coordination include proper delegation to appropriate members, transparency, feedback, and the necessary tools for keeping everyone in the loop.
Delegating tasks to your project team starts with assigning roles and responsibilities based on an individual’s ability to perform each action’s objective. Clear and well-defined roles eliminate confusion, overlap, and potential gaps in accountability. Depending on your team’s size, this could mean several touching points for any given member, but all will fall into place if the communication between each role is well established.
“75-90% of a project manager’s time is spent communicating.” – Blink
Open and transparent team communication for meetings, check-ins, follow-ups, and status changes helps projects run smoothly. Having a central area for information exchange and documentation is also critical when maintaining high levels of engagement and productivity. The right communication channels foster a positive work environment where feedback and inspiration keep a team performing their best till the project’s done.
Through effective team management, project managers can rely on the collective strengths of their team members and achieve the desired results while minimizing hiccups along the way.
Analyzing task progression is essential to ensure projects stay on course and meet their objectives. Project managers can identify potential issues early on by implementing effective monitoring and tracking practices and taking necessary corrective actions.
Three key actions for project maintenance:
Utilize project tracking systems. These systems enable project managers to capture relevant data and track progress consistently. They sometimes include tools and software allowing real-time updates on tasks, milestones, and overall project status that are critical for execution and centralizing project information, providing a holistic view of the project’s progress.
Set measurable project milestones. Start with tangible targets that help assess progress and keep the project on track. These small goals should be specific, time-bound, and aligned with the overall project timeline. Regularly reviewing milestone achievements allows project managers to gauge progress and make informed decisions.
Monitor potential deviations. Monitoring project progress ensures timely identification of scope changes and maintains project momentum. Project managers should proactively identify factors hindering progress and steering the project off schedule.
Adjusting to keep a project on track is a fundamental aspect of project management. Implementing robust monitoring and tracking practices helps ensure project progress, identify and resolve issues promptly, and optimize outcomes. Project managers should be flexible and adaptable to change as circumstances evolve. This may involve revising timelines, reallocating resources, or revisiting project strategies. Regular evaluations and adjustments help maintain alignment with project objectives even when facing unforeseen challenges.
Even with effective strategies and skills, project managers encounter several challenges within their roles and performance. Being aware of these challenges and developing appropriate strategies to address them is crucial for successful project execution.
When it comes to overcoming such obstacles, two of our best project managers had experiences to share. Here are a few common challenges and their take on facing issues that arise:
“The biggest challenge is to manage several projects simultaneously. In the end, we only have two hands. As many people as we are, saying we can do everything by tomorrow all the time is not possible.” – Emilio Lara, gpac Development and Instructional Technology
Multiple projects or tasks with overlapping deadlines are frequent roadblocks that come up in project management. Balancing priorities, allocating resources effectively, and implementing efficient time management techniques are essential to meet deadlines and avoid project delays.
“Projects need to be categorized by urgency, priority, and task complexity. The first thing is to identify the main problem that needs to be solved, and based on that, set the objectives and the steps that need to be done and establish a timeline to finish it.” – Mariana Quintanilla, gpac Culture Development and Internal Communications
“For me, the best way to move forward is to communicate directly the purpose, the objective, and the importance of that task with the team. In that way, together, we can figure out the best option to keep managing current projects and deliver tasks on time. Also, having a complete understanding of team members’ capabilities is crucial to split the tasks and reach the project objectives.” – Mariana Quintanilla, gpac Culture Development and Internal Communications
Coordinating and managing workflows can be complex, especially when coworkers are geographically dispersed in remote teams. Project managers need to establish streamlined processes, effective communication channels, and collaboration tools to ensure smooth workflow management.
“I think in the medium and long term. When we finish a project, there are already others in the queue. There is always something to do, so I try not to lose sight of that so as not to exhaust people, delegate ownership of the projects to different people, and rotate them so that we can deliver projects consistently.” – Emilio Lara, gpac Development and Instructional Technology
“At some point, we tried different tools such as Notion, Monday, Basecamp, notes, Office or Google Suite, etc. The important thing is to talk to people. Being remote makes it a bit more complicated; still, it can be achieved with constant calls, accustoming the team to collaborate and not each one on islands, following up in general, and always being very open about dates, deadlines, and deliveries.” – Emilio Lara, gpac Development and Instructional Technology
Limited resources, restrictive tools, and breaks in communication are significant challenges for project managers. Solutions require careful and efficient utilization of transparency channels to ensure optimal tracking and monitoring for project success.
“Keeping constant communication with the team is essential to support the project’s anticipated schedule. The primary tool we use is Monday because it’s convenient for seeing the progress on collaborative boards.” -Mariana Quintanilla, gpac Culture Development and Internal Communications
“One of my primary challenges is dealing with unexpected urgent tasks. When such tasks arise, it becomes necessary to reorganize project timelines and prioritize the new task.” – Mariana Quintanilla, gpac Culture Development and Internal Communications
Scope changes due to evolving requirements, a change in expectations, or a missed variable in the planning phase can be unpredictable and demand constant evaluation. Project managers must monitor and manage changes closely, clearly communicate the impact on project timelines and resources, and obtain appropriate approvals to prevent falling behind.
“The first major project I was part of here at gpac underwent many changes in directions that I did not see coming. I have been more attentive to the feedback we receive to prevent and realize in time what may come so that it doesn’t take me by surprise. Still, I think what really works is not being apprehensive.” – Emilio Lara, gpac Development and Instructional Technology
“Expectations from leadership let us know how to approach each project. Do we need an MVP (minimum viable product), or do we need a final version? Defining what we can do until a specific date and then updating it or continuing to improve the product is the biggest challenge for me because, in the beginning, the perfectionist part of me prevented me from finishing projects, now I understand that it is better done than perfect and that we can always continue to improve, but we must work on a base.” -Emilio Lara, gpac Development and Instructional Technology
Sometimes conflicting expectations arise, and project managers need to rethink their strategies. Understanding and managing these expectations by setting clear project objectives, communicating effectively, and aligning stakeholders’ interests help deliver projects fitting the request.
“Usually, we need to act according to the situation to reach the project goals, but always having the main objective and optimum quality that the project requires in mind.” – Mariana Quintanilla, gpac Culture Development and Internal Communications
“Take care of all the details, be creative with the solutions when you have a problem, but don’t waste time on the activities that are not urgent or a priority.” – Mariana Quintanilla, gpac Culture Development and Internal Communications
Managing projects often take swift decision-making so that there’s less stalling in the completion of tasks. A proactive approach and a thorough understanding of priorities are how project managers minimize impacts that hinder project outcomes.
“On the practical side, you have to be decisive; time is the most valuable thing in all projects. There are things that you only gain with experience, and therefore I know that my decision-making can improve, but you have to be decisive. It is good to stop to evaluate your next move, but even then, set a limit and act.” – Emilio Lara, gpac Development and Instructional Technology
Project managers with a structured planning phase and competent teams anticipate change, navigate uncertainties, and execute tasks with poise and adaptability. Delivering high-quality results on time is the icing on the cake of days, weeks, months, or even years of dedication and hard work for any project.
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