Most project managers will choose to work towards professional accreditation or even chartered status, and also engage in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) throughout their career. So they will undertake training in all forms, traditional classroom based courses, workshops, distance learning or e-learning. Training will cover best practise and help you develop your project management skills to a professional level.
But the daily working life of a project manager is very fast paced, it often requires quick decisions and interaction with all sorts of people at all different levels. So sometimes a list of quick project management tips can come in useful. So here we go…
- A project is only as good as the project team so if you can choose your own team then select the people carefully. Assess not just skills and experience but also levels of motivation and how well you think individual team members will work together.
- No project manager should be bearing the brunt of all the hard work so master the art of delegation and use it.
- Always plan for potential risks by developing a formal risk management plan to identify risks and ways to mitigate them should they occur. That way, if the worst happens, you will have a plan of action for how to proceed.
- Be honest at all times about the status of the project – if it is behind schedule or over-budget don’t try and hide the fact hoping you will somehow make up for lost time and get back on tracks. The chances are you won’t so it’s better to admit it early on and try and put in place a contingency plan.
- Assign project tasks carefully by assessing the skills, experience and motivation of individual team members.
- Decide on the best method of communication at the outset of the project – use collaboration tools and social media where relevant so people can stay in touch in real time. Remember meetings are important but not everything has to be discussed in a meeting.
- Don’t forget that your team will need motivating from time to time. Even the best self-motivated individuals will have low spots.
- Create a to-do list for the following day before your leave the office, every day (Really? Yes, really – it’s what successful project managers do).
- Don’t constantly check emails throughout the day – this will distract you from your tasks at hand and immediate responses are rarely necessary.
- Properly listen to feedback from your team, end-users, clients and stakeholders – you won’t always know best.
- It’s an obvious one but always learn from your mistakes (or others’ mistakes) on previous projects so that you don’t repeat the same ones.
- Don’t agree to an unrealistic schedule, budget or scope. Trim back what can be delivered before the project starts because otherwise you will be embarking on something that you know is unachievable and that will de-motivated you and your team.
- Never make assumptions – more than anything unspoken assumptions will lead to problems on a project.
- Use a good project management software package to help you manage resources, tasks and inter-dependencies; and streamline your project processes.
- Get to grips with change management. Projects often involve significant change which needs to be well-managed if the project is to be a success.
- Keep a beady eye out for scope creep – as its name suggests it can creep up on you unexpectedly. Have a formal change request process and when a change is requested, make sure you assess its impact on quality, time and budget before agreeing to implement the change.
- Keep meetings short – no longer than 1 hour (except in exceptional circumstances) and have a written agenda that you distribute in advance to attendees.