Projects are a central aspect of many jobs these days, so we’ve put together ten pieces of useful advice that will help project managers to do their jobs efficiently and successfully.
1. Be agile!
People who like to tell others how flexible and agile they are have the perfect opportunity to prove it in project management. Even a well-planned project, small or large, will have phases that require prompt responses and workarounds. Try to stay calm, because that will make you more responsive to other people’s input and suggestions on how to resolve the situation. Be proactive and keep communicating with everyone in the project because you are stronger together. And remember that there will always be changes to roles and activities in the hot project phase. Nothing’s set in stone!
2. Don’t get bogged down in details!
It’s always good to have a plan, but you should avoid making it excessively detailed and insisting it’s implemented to the letter, because that’s counterproductive. Projects don’t need control freaks. They need people who keep sight of the big picture in spite of all the stress and delays. Try to stay focused on the overall project objective in all project processes.
3. Listen to other people’s ideas!
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. But be aware that however competent and experienced you are, there’s always something new to learn. Every new idea can lead to an innovative solution that has a positive impact on the entire project management process.
4. Plan A, Plan B, Plan C ...
Changes of plan are absolutely OK if they are necessary to close out the project successfully. It’s also important to have alternative plans that you can put into action if you run into complications. Although insiders will have been informed about difficult project phases, unexpected delays and problems, outsiders will perceive the project as a success. All’s well that ends well!
5. All things come to an end - even projects!
Changes and complications can never be entirely ruled out, especially in large-scale, long-term projects. The important thing is to keep an eye on the original project budget and timeframe. These are crucial because they can lead to escalating costs, causing even more problems. Delayed project close-outs additionally look bad and can even result in negative headlines.
6. Visualise a common objective
Make sure that you and your team remain focused on what the project is all about and what it will ultimately deliver. A project is the sum total of all its parts: the activities and commitments, planning and processes. Visualisation can help to keep people motivated in difficult phases and it allows them to focus on why it’s worth gritting their teeth and getting on with the job, even if it means overtime work or reassigning certain work packages.
7. Step by step!
One of the best ways to achieve an objective is to take it step by step. Breaking down an objective into several smaller objectives makes it more achievable and keeps people motivated. The achievement of each sub-objective is a milestone to celebrate because it has taken you one step closer to closing out a great project. It also helps you find the strength to continue towards the next milestones.
8. Healthy risk management
Caution may be the mother of wisdom, but if you assess potential problems and risks in advance, you won’t be constantly worried about possible threats to the project. If you are too cautious, you might forget to focus on the project objectives because you’re busy focusing on potential risks that won’t necessarily materialise. Fear is a crippling emotion that has an adverse effect on any project.
9. Talk to everyone in the project!
Communication is always a top priority, not just in project management. Incredibly, many really good projects fail as a result of ineffective communication. Misunderstandings and unspoken questions can sabotage the management of the project and make it impossible to get the project back on course. That’s a shame, because so much work goes into the planning of a project. So communication is an indispensable tool to the success of a project from the day the project team is in place to the day the project closes out.
10. Keep an eye on time, budget and quality!
A project that runs over budget, closes out late and doesn’t deliver the agreed quality will never make positive headlines. Timeframe, budget and quality compliance is challenging because there are a great many issues to consider, and sometimes you need to have the courage to scrap your plan and admit that there’s a better way. A project should always deliver a gain or benefit to the organisation.
So there are lots of things to consider if you want to close out a project successfully. Although projects don’t always go to plan, and most involve a great deal of hard work and effort, they will ultimately reward you with praise and recognition if you get it right. What aspects of your favourite projects are you proud about? Write to us and let us know at email@example.com.
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