The role of a project manager is one of the most open positions in business today. There are project managers in every industry who cover a wide range of tasks. Everything from movie production to electric car manufacturing has at least one project manager guiding workers to key checkpoints in development.
Project management may seem simple on paper. You are responsible for guiding a group of people to carry out their individual tasks to complete the project as a whole. This may seem like nothing more than tracking from afar, but it’s much more practical than that. Project managers must be very knowledgeable in their field, communicate well with others, and motivate employees. These are just a few of the many roles that a project manager is responsible for.
While there’s a lot to this whole endeavor, there are a few ways to simplify and streamline projects and the project management process. Consider the following five tips for the next time you’re the boss of a new project:
1. Always have a meeting agenda
When you lead a project, you will organize a variety of different meetings. There will be regular visits with your team to monitor progress. Other meetings will deal with changes requested by the corporate office or the client to be incorporated. The more organized you make these meetings, the more organized your project will be as a whole.
You should go into every meeting with a pre-planned agenda. The meeting agenda will help you stay on topic and use your time wisely. No one enjoys a meeting that gets derailed and takes twice as long as necessary. Sticking to an agenda limits tangents and shows that you value everyone’s time.
2. Use the software to your advantage
If you have organizational tools at your disposal, don’t be afraid to use them. In particular, a project management software program can take a significant burden off your shoulders. These types of programs can automate numerous tasks for you, allowing you to focus more attention on specific details of the project at hand.
Within project management software, you can post due dates, send instant messages, and write out every step of a project in detail. All this information is easily accessible by your team. You can even set restrictions on what some people can see if some of these details are for your eyes only.
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 if you shared an office.
3. Define roles and expectations clearly
Each person involved in a project has a role to play. The more clearly you can define these employee roles and expectations, the more smoothly the project will run. This helps eliminate confusion and streamline lines of communication and leadership across the organization.
This would be a good time to come up with a meeting schedule and get your team together. Sit everyone down and establish the roles and responsibilities of each member. Allow time for questions so that as many details as possible can be clarified.
In a meeting like this, team members will also understand the roles of their co-workers. They’ll know exactly who to talk to for specific questions instead of asking until they get to the right place. This helps to streamline communication across the organization, ensuring that the project is constantly moving forward.
4. Work with deadlines
Most projects have a deadline for when they must be completed. In addition to the final deadline, consider adding a few other checkpoints along the way. If certain tasks are expected to be completed before the final due date, you are less likely to have to rush a project in the last week. Procrastination is something almost everyone is all too familiar with. Checkpoints can help lessen the consequences of procrastinating too long.
Start with at least one check-in at the midpoint of the project. List some measurable progress that you want to be made when you are halfway to the final deadline. For more complex projects, you can add additional checkpoints as you see fit. Use each deadline as an opportunity to regroup and reassess your approach to the project. This gives you the opportunity to make some adjustments that will increase overall efficiency as you work towards full completion.
5. Check in regularly
At the core 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 with the people on your team. This helps motivate them by recognizing their efforts and praising them for the work they have done.
Regular visits also give employees a chance to have their say on the project at hand. There might be comments and suggestions that would otherwise be kept quiet in a large group setting. Listen to each employee and use their thoughts as you see fit. Some of their suggestions can dramatically change and help how your project is managed.
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. However, these organizational tips should come in handy for any type of project you tackle next.