Experts in managing business projects agree that there are strategies that improve the likelihood that a project is finished well, on budget, and by the deadline.
At first glance, these steps to successful project management can appear direct and uncomplicated. However, it takes only one wrong step to throw off the entire project.
Managing a project effectively requires involving the right people, communicating clear expectations, establishing concrete deadlines, and maintaining a flexible scope.
A project manager and team need a complete set of sanctioned project details before beginning to plan. These details will help the process run smoothly and will prevent a crisis when a bump in the road looms. For starters, project details should be comprised of expected milestones, deadlines, and a budget worksheet.
Choose the Players
A project team should include the minimum number of people required to get the job done. These team members should have the best skills and experience that pertains to the project itself. A project manager needs a team that is reliable, yet small enough to communicate and work with effectively.
It is essential that each team member knows exactly which piece of the project he or she is responsible for accomplishing. Precise assignments—including their milestones and their deadlines—can prevent confusion and frustration. This also protects key objectives from slipping between the cracks. A strong project manager checks in on individual assignments and their deadlines on a regular basis.
From as early as the first meeting, milestones should be established and understood. These benchmarks should have corresponding deadlines to help team members stay focused on the final objective. This ensures not only a clear course, but it also helps avoid any uncertainty or doubts before they are too late to be comfortably addressed.
Project milestones deserve recognition. A project manager who rewards team members who met deadlines boosts enthusiasm for the project, encourages creativity, and communicates success. Commending each successful step achieved helps ensure the final vision is realized.
Effective project managers instill in team members a sense of equilibrium by balancing milestone checks with the freedom to work and create. Micromanaging is a poor form of control that can lead to confusion and discouragement. It also may affect the quality of the project’s final results.
Regular meetings are important to keep progress moving steadily forward. Meetings should be brief and to the point; they should address the project status as a whole and allow each member to briefly update the team within an allotted time. Long meetings lead to boredom and distraction, both of which derail the team’s focus and enthusiasm.
Effective communication is a key player in project management success. Management experts recommend using a quality, user-friendly software program that all team members can access. This keeps information up-to-date and readily available. It also prevents confusion, loss, and poor time management—all of which may occur with simpler or cheaper methods like emails or online forum boards.
Change Is Inevitable
Finally, project managers need to remember this: Change is a part of life—even in business. Allow room for modifications in the initial planning stages of the project. Manage flexibility for deadlines by preparing for unexpected requests or problems.
It’s also a good idea to prepare the budget for inevitable hiccups. Be patient and encourage team members from the beginning to roll with the challenges and keep everyone informed. Planning for adjustments helps to maintain positive outlooks and inspires members to stay committed from start to finish.