Managing a project from start to finish can always be a challenging task, whether that’s from having difficulty with team members or even running to a very tight deadline! This can require a lot of juggling and spinning plates to keep the project moving forward and on track. What is the best way to manage a project successfully you ask? Unfortunately, there is no way of magically making a project successful (or not yet anyway) and it will always require hardwork and dedication from everyone involved! Buuut, with Ultimate’s top tips for successful project management below, hopefully this will make a good start!
‘We’ve got you covered’
I think it’s safe to say that without clear and effective communication, a project is never going to succeed. It’s very important to be open, clear and concise from the get go and make sure everyone involved in the project is aware of all goals and requirements of the task in hand – so everyone is on the same team !! When things go wrong within a project – it’s also super important to communicate these as early as possible and be very transparent, as there’s no point beating around the bush! The team can then work proactively to resolve any issues together – and keep the project running smoothly with no hiccups!
On average, between 75% – 90% of a project manager’s time is spent communicating!
Below are some ways in which you can communicate effectively throughout a project –
- Weekly team meetings or ‘huddles’ to go through the progress of the project. Go through deliverables and deadlines to make sure everyone is on track! Make sure to use these to iron out any concerns from an early stage.
- Weekly or biweekly status reports – these really help us within Ultimate as it gives all stakeholders and key people involved an overview of where we are up to and where any support may be needed. These can include things such as going through budgets and where a lot of time has been spent – to potentially iron out any similar issues in future projects!
- Be open to other people’s opinions – don’t stress if anything has to change or be tweaked during the project, there are always a lot of moving parts and it’s good to have multiple perspectives.
2. Setting REALISTIC goals & KPIs
It’s so easy for goals or KPI’s within a project to be misunderstood, or overcomplicated! So keep it simple. At the beginning, make sure these KPI’s and the criteria to meet them are communicated to the whole team and are worked towards, so everyone is clear! These can then be measured by the project manager to make sure we are on track and not losing focus! Within digital projects especially, this is always really important as there is a HUGE amount of different KPIs to be chosen from – you don’t want too many to overhaul the project! When project goals or milestones are misunderstood or forgotten, this can cause productivity within the team to decrease and therefore having a domino effect, so it’s best to be concise and straightforward from the get go.
3. WE ARE ONE TEAM – pick the right team and leverage your team’s strengths!
Proactively looking for team members with certain skill sets and who will collaboratively work well together is really important – to ensure efficiency and great team work!
― Tom DeMarco.
Having good communication skills, and being highly organised are just a couple of key traits to look out for when choosing the correct project team that will work well. You want your team to be able to lean on and support one another – so it’s great to have a team with different strengths so the project can really benefit from everyone involved! Motivation is also so important for a successful project, which goes hand in hand with choosing the correct team as they will feel more motivated to be productive, if they know the team is working well together!
4. The right software & tools
Choosing the correct project management software can sometimes be tricky – but it is so important! Not only is it great to have open communication with the project manager, but the correct tools allow people to track time effectively, give updates on any tasks, and have clear automations or integrations set in place. This will ensure accuracy throughout, which will in turn enhance productivity and efficiency of the project in the long run. It’s key to choose a software that is streamlined, and your team enjoys using! This also allows a clear paper trail of what went wrong so this can be worked on in the future and nothing will slip through the cracks!
Software such as Trello has also been super helpful within Ultimate, as we use this tool to communicate with the client effectively throughout the project, without having an email chain with a hundred and one different conversations going on! It’s clear, and the columns allow each section to be split off and broken down – so it’s easy for everyone to understand, both internally and from the clients perspective!
5. Completion, not perfection
Of course, you want the project to be as perfect as possible! But it’s good to realise and remember that there’s always going to be hurdles and struggles – not everything is going to always turn out perfect! So allow for imperfections, and don’t stress yourself out with constantly striving for perfection – be flexible!
6. Support, don’t be afraid to ask!
Asking questions is SO important during project management, making sure everyone is 100% on what is being asked and feels confident to complete the job well! Even if you think the question may be ‘silly’ or ‘unjustified’ – ask it anyway !! As more often than not, it will come up as a hurdle somewhere further down the line in the project. This is also a great factor when it comes to building up your own knowledge and confidence, so when the next project comes along and a similar question pops up, you will already know the answer and how to tackle it!
7. Standard processes
Don’t overcomplicate it! Without set processes and a basic ‘step by step’ guide it is very easy for a project to spiral out of control and be unmanageable (and cause a lot of stress!) Even though every project can be very different, the basic structure is more often than not, the same! So create a plan from the get go and try as best you can to stick to this – this will alleviate unnecessary stress and getting lost along the way. Once a process has been updated within a workspace, team members will usually revisit this and adapt where needed – so it’s so important to have these outlined.
Here at Ultimate, we offer a range of Services which all have their own standard process’. These can then can be tweaked and changed for each particular client. Read more about these here!
8. Clear understanding of the brief & scope of project
Although this may sound so simple, having a clear brief from the beginning is so important within a project. A good brief will contain the information to give clear direction and understanding of what is being asked. Everyone needs to be 100% on board with this from the beginning so they can refer back to this throughout. There are usually 2 different types of brief which are broken down into the below –
- Project brief – This is just what it says in the title. It outlines exactly what are the deliverables and expectations of the project as a whole. This will include any key milestones and the budget, and will be more of a larger overview.
- Task brief – A task brief digs a bit deeper into the individual tasks and will include requirements and why the task needs to be done.
The scope of a project is usually outlined right at the beginning, similar to the brief – this gives an overview of how long tasks should take and what exactly is being asked. It is important to keep a watchful eye on the scope throughout the project so ‘scope creeping’ doesn’t start to appear – this can be caused when certain team members may not be clear on what is expected of them and don’t fully understand the task in question. However, this can also occur through no fault of our own and the client may change their expectations or requirements for the project, therefore it’s important to sometimes stand your ground when it comes to ad-hoc changes to the scope, as these can sometimes be not only time consuming but also costly.
9. Risk Management
Plan, plan & plan. From the very offset of the project in the planning stage, it is good to outline any potential risks or issues that could affect the outcome. Digital projects are always going to have their complications and risks, and these can change and grow throughout. Therefore, as mentioned earlier, make sure to highlight these risks in the weekly/biweekly team meetings – as having these at the forefront of the team’s mind from the beginning, could mitigate the impacts of these for yourself and your team members further along the line.
10. Enjoy it!
Let’s face it, there are always going to be ups and downs within a project. However it’s SO important to celebrate the successes throughout the project and showcase any feedback – especially in the remote environments a lot of us are in now, where in-person interactions don’t always take place. This should be something that is constant throughout, don’t wait until the end of the project to celebrate any successes, as everyone could do with a boost sometimes! The project team will be working hard on a daily basis, so it will be great for them to hear that their hard work is being appreciated and is making a big difference – therefore all small wins should be celebrated too!
If you wanted to learn any more about successful project management, there is an online conference live today and available to stream here.