The role of a project manager is one of the most open positions in business today. There are project managers in every industry covering a wide range of tasks. Everything from film production to electric car manufacturing has at least one project manager guiding workers through key development checkpoints.
Project management may seem simple on paper. You are responsible for guiding a group of people through their individual tasks to complete the project as a whole. It may seem like nothing more than remote monitoring, but it’s much more convenient than that. Project managers must have a great knowledge of their field, communicate well with others and motivate employees. These are just a few of the many roles a project manager takes on.
While a lot is invested in this business, there are ways to simplify and streamline projects and the project management process. Consider the following five tips for the next time you lead a new project:
1. Always have a meeting agenda
As part of the management of a project, you organize various meetings. There will be regular check-ins with your team to track progress. Other meetings will cover head office or client requested changes that need to be incorporated. The more you organize these gatherings, the more your project will be organized as a whole.
You should walk into each meeting with a pre-arranged agenda. A meeting agenda will help you stay on topic and use your time wisely. Nobody appreciates a meeting that goes off the rails and lasts twice as long as necessary. Sticking to an agenda limits tangents and shows you appreciate everyone’s time.
2. Use software to your advantage
If you have organizational tools at your disposal, don’t be afraid to use them. In particular, project management software can relieve you considerably. These types of programs can automate many tasks for you, allowing you to focus more on specific details of the project at hand.
In project management software, you can post due dates, send instant messages, and write down every step of a project in detail. All this information is easily accessible by your team. You can even set restrictions on what certain people can see if some of those details are just for your eyes.
Project management software is especially useful for remote teams. Many projects today are completely digital, allowing some team members to do their work from home. When you use software, you can communicate with everyone as easily as sharing an office space.
3. Clearly define roles and expectations
Each person involved in a project has a role to play. The more clearly you can define these employee roles and expectations, the smoother the project will go. This eliminates confusion and streamlines lines of communication and leadership throughout the organization.
This would be the perfect time to set a meeting agenda and bring your team together. Have everyone sit down and outline the roles and responsibilities of each member. Allow time for questions so that more details can be clarified.
In a meeting like this, team members will also understand the roles of their colleagues. They’ll know exactly who to talk to for specific questions instead of asking around until they get to the right place. This helps streamline communication across the organization, ensuring the project is constantly progressing.
4. Work with deadlines
Most projects have a deadline for their completion. In addition to the final deadline, consider adding a few other checkpoints along the way. If certain tasks need to be completed before the final due date, you’re less likely to have to rush a project into its final week. Procrastination is something almost everyone knows all too well. Checkpoints can help mitigate the consequences of procrastinating too long.
Start with at least a mid-project check-in. List some measurable progress you want to make when you are halfway to the final deadline. For more complex projects, you can add additional control points as you see fit. Use each deadline as an opportunity to regroup and reevaluate your approach to the project. This gives you the ability to make a few tweaks that will increase overall efficiency as you work towards full completion.
5. Check in regularly
At the very heart of project management are the people you work with. One of the most impactful things you can do as a manager is to regularly check in on the people who make up your team. This helps motivate them by acknowledging their efforts and praising them for the work they have done.
Regular check-ins also allow employees to express themselves on the current project. There might be comments and suggestions that would otherwise remain silent in a large group. Listen to each employee and use their thoughts as you see fit. Some of their suggestions can radically change and help your project management.
Part of what makes project management exciting is that every project is different. You will have new goals to achieve and unique obstacles to overcome. Still, these organizing tips should come in handy no matter what type of project you tackle next.