How to be an Effective Project Manager
Project managers wear multiple hats and are responsible for many varied areas. They monitor every step and ensure their team is performing as it should. Project managers must be well versed in every task required to complete the project, along with every aspect of overseeing and managing the project to ensure it’s completed correctly and on time. Sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t need to be complete chaos. Proper planning, implementation and monitoring each project will see you through to on budget, timely completion. Here are 10 areas of focus critical for any project manager’s success.
Follow These Simple Guidelines
Be Familiar with the Project’s Scope
The project scope essentially encompasses every detail of your project. Having a clear picture of the scope of your project will ensure you get the results you’re looking for. Begin by pulling the team together and sharing all necessary information for the project, identifying tasks and assigning them to members of your team, defining the resources required and available for your project. Once all this is worked out, you’ll find you have a well thought out, comprehensive plan to work with going forward.
Key an Eye on the Metrics
The project manager must monitor every aspect of the process, ensuring each step stays on schedule. That doesn’t mean micro-managing is the answer, but keeping an eye on the schedule, resources, and budget will ensure you see the project to completion within projected timelines. Always keep an active timeline updated so you will immediately be made aware of any areas of concern and determine a path to get the project back on track. There are several project management tools available on the market today for tracking and managing projects which include the required metrics and also offer the benefit of electronic sharing.
Planning Never Stops
Despite exactly how well you have planned any kind of project, there are bound to be unexpected challenges that appear along the way. Careful and ongoing planning will make sure you’re prepared for any contingency. Not all projects will offer challenges, but being prepared to handle anything will make sure you’re ready to revector activity if need be. Anticipating challenges and putting in place contingency plans will help your team stay focused when things don’t go as planned. Be sure to inform your team of what to do when issues arise and familiarize them with any contingencies you have in place and when to implement them.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Team
As with any relationship, but especially for a professional one, it’s critical that you know your team to the extent that you thoroughly understand their individual strengths and weaknesses, how they work, what their motivation is, and how they communicate best. Give them the opportunity to give you feedback and suggestions, and perhaps most important, don’t always force them to work your way. When your team members feel they have more input and are handling more responsibilities, they’ll perform better and your team will be more cohesive. The ultimate result will be a smoother project.
Handle Changes Effectively
On occasion word will come down that there are changes to your carefully scheduled project. When this occurs, it can potentially impact schedules or resources, any number of things that may affect your ability to complete the project within established timeframes. Unfortunately, those making the decisions may not take into account the impact to your plan. Don’t panic. Sit down with the decision makers and lay out how changes impact your timeline, budget, and the quality of work. Once they understand the full impact of their changes, they may be willing to compromise. In any case, there is a path through, even if it takes reworking your plan.
Develop a Risk Response Group
Create a risk response team to handle those unexpected challenges that crop up. Have a few individuals primed to help with unforeseen challenges and you’ll feel secure knowing you have a team in place to help monitor and redirect resources when necessary. They’ll be your first line of defense and help keep you on track.
Develop a Timeline
Every aspect of your project must be applied to a timeline. It’ll help keep you and your team organized and informed as to their next steps, keeping the project running smoothly. A visual timeline offers a complete picture of your project, resources, and allows the team to remain focused on the various steps required.
Get Help when you Need it
A good project manager recognizes when they need help. At times you’ll be faced with challenges that you and your team cannot handle. When that happens, it’s not considered a failure to call in an expert who can help. Finding the right solution for any challenge is just part of the job, even if it means finding the right people to help.
Conduct Meetings Weekly
It’s highly recommended that you hold meetings at least weekly, to check the timeline and measure your progress. Brief, daily meetings may even be required, depending on the complexity of your project and its requirements. Regular meetings allow you to get a current picture of individual task status and keep the project on schedule. If appropriate, update your customer on a regular basis to let them know you’re diligently working to manage schedules, budgets, and resources.
Quality Over Quantity
As much as it’s important to deliver a project on time and within the budget, it’s equally, if not more, important to deliver quality. All aspects are important, of course, but quality is what your customer will value. Get feedback from both your team and those outside the team on the quality of work to ensure the customer will be happy, but don’t ignore the timeline and resources in the process.
While it may seem like a lot of plates to keep in the air, you’ll find a concise project plan will save the day. Keep on top of daily activities, with your plan as your guide, and be ready to offer direction when things go awry, and everyone will be happy, including your team!
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