Project management can be stressful work. You have lots of moving targets to hit, like budgets and deadlines, and it’s hard to do good work when you’re stressed. To be a better project manager, you’ll need some simple guidelines to ensure that you will deliver each project on time, within budget, and accurate to scope, for every single client.
A successful project manager can make a project happen as efficiently as possible, without any noticeable snags. You can work just as efficiently, but you’ll need to learn a few principles of effective management, as well as the right tools. Here are four new things you can do, starting today, to better control the outcome of your firm’s projects.
#1: Write down the exact problem your project will solve
The first step in project management is accurately describing the problem your project will solve. “The most important of the problem-solving steps,” writes Michael A. Martinez, “is to define the problem correctly. The way you define the problem will determine how you attempt to solve it.” So what problem are you trying to solve by doing this project? What steps will your project include in order to solve this specific problem?
To start, make a document with everything you know about the problem and everything you know about the project. Don’t leave anything out. Then start asking questions of the right people: you’ll find it helpful to find out what’s important for your client, to start strategizing with your team and coworkers, and to begin brainstorming your solution. When you invest some time into planning, you’ll save your firm a lot of time and money, in the long run.
#2: Make a plan, but leave room for the unexpected
Once you know the problem you want to solve, start thinking of the steps your team will need to take, and add those steps to your planning doc. That’s how you determine what kind of work your firm needs to do. But what kinds of things should your document include? Your plan should prepare your team for any obstacles they could run into during the course of the project. That way, you and your team will have a clearer picture of the project’s timeframe, scope, and budget.
According to Villanova University, “A well-written project plan gives guidance for obtaining resources, acquiring financing and procuring required materials.” When you make a project plan, be sure to include an estimate of the budget you’ll need, a list of the kinds and quantities of materials your team will use, and a description of how you’ll acquire materials, along with a snapshot of how you plan to use the materials to complete the project on deadline.
#3: Keep communicating with your client and your team, no matter what
A project plan isn’t just for you and your client. Instead, the plan should be available for your entire team to use for scheduling their work, and for staying on top of tasks. If you’ve worked on enough projects, you know that things go wrong when communication breaks down. When your client and team have the project plan, your next job is to keep the lines of communication open, not just within your team member but between all of the project’s stakeholders.
For example, in a high-quality project management software, you can create and share with your team custom-made reports on your project’s task statuses. You can even see the project’s revenue projection. With just a glance, your software’s real-time dashboards can give you a high-level view of the project’s progress. A software tool even lets you determine whether to bill your clients, as necessary, for additional time and materials.
#4: Watch your plan in action, and be ready to adjust, as you need
Just as it’s important to write down your project plan, it’s also vital to oversee the progress of your team’s project, so you can make adjustments that guarantee its success. In your project management software, the real-time dashboards and reports give you a chance to see how your team is performing. Your software can help you to stay aware of your staffers’ performance, to monitor whether you’re sticking to the budget, and to track the status of your resources.
Your software’s resource allocation tool lets you stay aware of your project’s budget, allocated hours, due date, tasks, and assigned staffers. When you see that you need to make changes, use Gantt charts to plan your new project schedule and to evaluate how those changes will impact your firm’s resources. Any top-ranking project management software will let you see the future of your projects, making your job a little less stressful, and a lot more impactful.
If you’re looking for a project management software that fits the way you work, then contact us for a free demo of BigTime.