Completing projects in the limits of the set deadline and budget, contact with partners, supervising tasks at various stages. The project manager faces multiple challenges every day. Strong motivation is not always enough to tackle them. Regardless of the industry and position, the source of success is always humility. Therefore, take your time and check these tips that will help you improve yourself, your skills in cooperation with a group of equally ambitious people, and that will finally translate into added value for the company.
1. Take care of good team communication
Managing a team requires a perfect information flow. Many companies still manage their projects within their functional structure of the enterprise. This makes keeping communication between the particular departments at the proper level much more difficult. Information integration is, of course, a good way to find the middle ground, but it is better to rely on more specific solutions in everyday work.
Choosing the right project management software featuring a chat and mail module might be of great help. This way, the employees can talk to superiors and vice versa on a current basis. Furthermore, private conversations often possible as well as discussions with people who run the given project or task in the group chat. Every instruction or request leaves a trace, so in case of any doubts, you can go back to an earlier reply. When performing tasks, you can update the progress on a current basis by means of comments, and even tag your co-workers. Streamlining communication is, without a doubt, an important tip for a project manager. Remember about it
2. Learn to estimate the project risk
Even the most professionally prepared project manager has to consider the possibility that not everything will go as planned at every stage of the task. This risk must be factored in from the get-go. Thus, failures must be controlled and means to minimise potential losses found. It becomes easier along with experience gained while working on orders. Theoretical knowledge is an important support tool for the managers, but the things you have to pay attention to can only be discovered in practice.
There are several ways to manage the project risk. In addition to your own experience, you can also use heuristic methods, employing analogous cases to anticipate future events. Out of endless number of projects the company completed, the project manager chooses those in which the type of tasks and challenges was similar to the current project. If industry experts are involved in this process, the safeguarding measures are extended by the elements of the Delphic method. Already at the project evaluation stage, it is good to describe the course of its implementation in detail, to avoid future mistakes.
3. Select the right software to manage the projects
Technology will never replace human wisdom, but it is a good ally. Opening to new solutions and relying on innovativeness in management is worth it. Automation of processes greatly streamlines the recurring and – let us not hide it – boring but necessary tasks. When we use professional project management software, we finally find the time needed to perfect the details. Increased efficiency of operations translates directly into a higher tactical and strategic level of project management. Deployment of project management software is a key tip for the project manager.
Here are several examples of the most interesting options:
A legend in the world of project management software. It is a highly developed program with a whole lot of functionalities. Unfortunately, Jira is very difficult to tackle – the number of functions makes it very difficult to implement the software in the company and, first and foremost, to teach your employees how to use it.
This functional and easy to use project management tool meets all key requirements of any project manager. It ensures effective planning of activities using the popular Gantt method, has a cost control module and an invoicing plug-in. The most important aspect is, however, the intuitive mobile application, allowing to manage projects from any place in the world.
A tool with similar popularity to Jura and used as its alternative by many corporations. In Trello, project manager can only manage the tasks. It is still a useful way to organise work, but this limitation can be seen as a significant weakness of the software.
4. Practice your negotiation skills
The art of persuasion was a frequent subject of reflectio4 of the greatest minds already in the ancient times. Oratory skills worthy of Cicero are not indispensable to negotiate. It is, however, preferable to improve your techniques, especially when the stage of contract conclusion with increasingly big contractors begins. At the highest tier of cooperation, the slightest concessions may turn into a magnitude of both profits and losses.
Project manager is always negotiating something. A good negotiation practice is the choice of arguments and methods of their presentation that factor in the individuality of the interlocutor. The ELM persuasion model developed by Richard Petty and John Cacioppo shows that there are two parallel routes of persuasion: one referring to the quality of arguments and one depending on other factors – length of message, reliability of the originator and even his or her attractiveness. Awareness of the comprehensive nature of the message allows to develop the best method to swing the odds in your favour.
5. Don’t waste your time
Most models facilitating project management involve tools allowing to set the hierarchy of goals: from strategic, through tactical to operating ones. It is at the very beginning, when the project assumptions are already known but the future is still vague, that you have to start thinking about the end results. You have to take this into consideration each consecutive day, till the evaluation stage. Why?
Time is only seemingly a constant measure. Hours drag during preparatory tasks, but tend to escape, one by one, when it is time to close the project. But if you use at least the well-worn but also well-proven Gantt model and specify precisely the project milestones, the well-defined goal will never disappear from the horizon. If you want to be a good project manager, you definitely to use this tip.
6. Remember – you’re not the best at everything
After several years, the comprehensiveness of work on projects gives people managing them the sense of infallibility and omniscience. This has a negative effect on the relations in the project team the members of which are gradually discouraged from putting forward their own ideas in fear of criticism. Creativity, i.e. the unique treasure being the driving force of the contemporary business, suffers from this greatly.
Additionally, the symptoms of the “god complex” have bad consequences for the person interested as well. Overzealous striving for perfection increases the level of frustration as it is hard to find to the time for a perfect performance or correction of the given activity or task. The focus is placed on the goal of the project, but on the particular operating tasks the significance of which is minor in the context of success of the entire initiative.
7. Learn to rest
Project management entails living in constant stress. Obviously work gives a lot of satisfaction, but it is often at the expense of shattered nerves. Overlapping deadlines or need to do many tasks at once – these are only some of the reasons project management is treated like an unpleasant duty after a couple of years. To find pleasure in work, learn to rest. It is the only way you can improve your productivity. And not only yours. A well-rested employee is an efficient employee. And yes, there will be many sighing: “easier said than done”, but you should try not to think about all the “buts” and start acting and… go for a walk.
Most of the above tips regard mostly soft competences. For some project managers, this knowledge seems useless and lacking specifics. This way of thinking is a mistake. Knowing the universal features distinguishing a good project manager allows you to become flexible and best prepared for any changes. Changes are, after all, unavoidable in business. The stakeholders should actually be continuously encouraged to be the innovators.
In crisis situations, perfect software operation or knowledge of regulations are not what comes to aid. They are, obviously, indispensable, but we must remember that project management is, first and foremost, continuous work with people and persuading others to our ideas – not only our superiors but also, which is rarely mentioned, our customers. This gives rise to the need for diversification of skills which, in the long run, will definitely translate into accomplishment of strategic goals.
Meeting only the above recommendations already allows to manage projects at least a bit more effectively. In this domain, it is not quantity that matters, but quality. Every task must be performed at least duly. However, functioning in conditions of uncertainty and growing competition frequently makes this minimum insufficient. Therefore, we should always be one step ahead of our business rivals and employ comprehensive solutions, such as multi-task project management software.