Strong project management skills are the difference between staying within budget and on the proposed timeline for implementation, and going over time, over budget, and causing a negative ripple effect throughout the organization.
Project management is a balance of science and art. With the right person overseeing a project, the right protocols in place, and the right tools for the job, you can make your next project a success.
Here are five ways to make project management simple.
Don’t Overthink the Tools of the Trade
Once upon a time, project management software almost required its own project plan for education and implementation.
The software could be expensive and made it possible for various team members to have a plan that was out of date. Cloud technology has almost eradicated the latter problem, but lots of software is still arduous and complicated.
When it comes to project and product management software, don’t be distracted by the bells and whistles: keep it simple and to the point. Find something that makes organization simple and has a minimal learning curve for team members.
Assign and Define
To ensure that things get done when they’re supposed to by the responsible parties, you need to clearly define action items and assign a name and completion date to them. This is especially necessary if you have long meetings in which things don’t get resolved, or discussions drag on, as attention may waver.
To wrap up each meeting or email, take a moment to clearly state who is responsible for a task, what’s expected, and when it’s required by. It’s also helpful to indicate what’s at stake if the task doesn’t get done on time.
Highlight Critical Milestones
A project is a series of major milestones subdivided into smaller tasks that will add up to completed milestones. These are usually major markers in a project that directly link to the timeline and completion of the project as a whole.
Highlighting critical milestones not only gives a project direction, but it also gives your team members things to celebrate to keep the momentum going as the project drags on over time. It also raises the stakes and creates urgency regarding timelines.
Communication and Transparency are Essential
In any organization, whether an overall business or in a small project management team, clear, concise communication is key to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
Being transparent can empower various members of the team, so that when everything is said and done, everyone feels that their role was important.
Keep everyone updated with developments and delays, and ask that they extend the same courtesy to the rest of the team. Many times, the main people working on a project are doing so in addition to their daily requirements.
Sometimes, things get moved down the list of priorities as a result. Letting the larger team know when problems arise helps manage expectations up the chain.
Take Notes About Challenges and Wins
Give yourself a chance to learn from your successes and mistakes by taking note of what works and what doesn’t during the project management process. This will serve as a valuable resource as the project progresses, as well as a model for future projects.
When your project is wrapped up, be sure to schedule time for a post-mortem to go over the process with everyone and give all participants a chance to identify what they thought went well and what didn’t.
Additionally, this meeting can serve as a brainstorming session for future projects.
When it comes to project management, the more simple and precise the better. Take time to pare down your meetings and emails, so that people know exactly what is expected of them without reading (or ignoring) time-consuming documents and email threads.
Empower your team and do your best to keep things moving forward, and you’ll have a simple, straightforward project management experience.