Eight Effective Tips for Project Management

Posted on: July 06, 2021 Posted in: Team Coaching

Project Management has come a long way in recent years turning a loosely-tied community of practitioners into a growing and thriving industry through governing and certifying organizations like Project Management Institute (PMI), and others. Today’s project manager can benefit from training and knowledge sharing through these organizations and their members across the industry. Project managers enter the field with much stronger preparation and training than in years past.

However, as we all understand, formal training, while beneficial, cannot fully substitute for years of experience. This is true in most professional fields and project management is no exception. While there are no shortages of tricks of the trade from experienced practitioners, these tips provide both new and experienced project managers opportunities to look outside of their formal team coach training toward more effective project management.

Tip 1 – Understand Your Team

Project Management training consists of many topics; however, one of the most difficult functions to understand is the team dynamic. Effective project managers must understand the individual characteristics of all of their team members in order to utilize them in a way that capitalizes on their strengths and helps develop their weaknesses.

Team members may not be forthcoming with or completely understand their own strengths and weaknesses, so the project manager must be in tune to his/her team. The project manager must also understand the different personalities that comprise the team and the dynamics of how they work together. This is where solid interpersonal skills like communications and conflict management are beneficial.

Tip 2 – Stand Firm on Project Scope

Projects may have many different competing influences within an organization as well as externally. Effective project managers do significant amounts of work early in the project’s lifecycle to define, document, and communicate the project scope. Effective project managers also implement a strict change management process is in place in order to ensure any proposed changes to the project are within the original scope. Project managers who fail to implement such measures or are easily swayed by out of scope changes are rarely effective as projects tend to get off course and fail.

Tip 3 – Truly Understand Your Stakeholders

Much like understanding their team personalities and dynamics, effective project managers understand the influence and relationships of their stakeholders. Stakeholders will vary in number depending on the size and complexity of the project, but their influence is always present. 

In addition to understanding and managing stakeholder influence and relationships, effective project managers understand how each stakeholder is impacted by the project. This allows the project manager to proactively manage the project by anticipating questions and concerns various stakeholders may have as well as ensuring impacts to them are considered.

Tip 4 – Don’t Work in a Vacuum

In all aspects of project management communication is the key to success. Effective project managers understand this and know that the importance of communication permeates all knowledge areas and process groups. The effective project manager understands this and uses communication to help achieve project success. Implementing a thorough Communications Management Plan is one key to successful project communication.

In order to communicate effectively, there must be a documented process for who communicates, how they communicate, when communications are needed, and what information is communicated. Informal communications outside of the plan are also necessary for the project manager to understand the pulse of the project, conflicts, morale, and team expectations.

Tip 5 – Understand and Use the Organizational Structure

Organizations and project teams may be structured in any number of different ways. Project teams may be a matrix structure wherein team members work on a project but report to different functional managers. They may be projectized in which team members report to the project manager. Effective project managers understand these structures and how to manage their pros and cons to the best possible advantage.

Establishing positive relationships with functional managers and creating and communicating clear requirements and expectations are examples of how effective project managers can leverage the organizational structure to their advantage.

Tip 6 – There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Planning or Communication

Projects often involve the coordination of multiple workers, the purchase, delivery, and use of various materials, and careful tracking of every step. Because of how complex business projects become, planning ahead of time has become critical to success.

How can you provide clients with an estimate if you don’t know what your material costs will be? How can you stay on schedule if you haven’t spoken with the workers who will be on the project to determine what rate of progress is likely? Are there other places in the process where costs or time can be made up?

You need a manager or a management system that facilitates quick and accurate communication. Tracking resources and timing are also important. For some businesses and projects, this may mean investing in a salary for someone who organizes all these details. For other companies, custom software solutions may provide what is needed. Your project needs and company size will help dictate what will work best for you.

Tip 7 – Break Down the Project into Small Mini-Projects

By breaking down the various steps required to finish your project and establishing a time and financial budget for each step, you can get a more accurate estimates and controls for your project. Creating a Gantt chart to track progress for each individual stage in the project compared to what you estimated can help your company more accurately track performance. It’s important to provide some leniency in terms of both schedule and budget, if possible, especially when you are first engaging in project management practices.

Unless you bring in professionals, there is likely to be a learning curve for project management within your company. Just because there are a few hiccups and mistakes early on doesn’t mean you should abandon the practice. With time, project management can help you better control project execution and even improve your profit margin.

Tip 8 – Always Be Willing to Learn From Your Experience

Each time you complete a project, you have an opportunity to improve your project management practices. Don’t begrudge yourself and your team on every mistake and every deviation from your estimates and plan. Track your progress, learn from mistakes and delays, and you will find your project management and overall controls improve for future projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is Project Management?

Project Management is the application of skills, knowledge, and techniques to a project. Project management has final deliverables that must be completed within a specific timeframe and budget. This can be either done by a team coach or a project manager.

Q2. How has Project Management evolved?

Through governing and certifying organisations such as Project Management Institute (PMI), and others, project management has progressed from a loosely-knit community of practitioners to a growing and thriving industry in recent years. These organisations and their members in the industry can provide training and knowledge sharing to today's project managers.

Q3. What are the ways a Team Coach can enhance Project Management?

A Team Coach can enhance Project Management in the following ways:

  • Understand Your Team
  • Stand Firm on Project Scope
  • Don’t Work in a Vacuum
  • Break Down the Project into Small Mini-Projects

Q4. How does Understanding Stakeholders help Team Coaches?

Understanding the influence and relationships of their stakeholders is aided by team coaches' understanding of their team's personalities and dynamics. The number of stakeholders will vary depending on the size and complexity of the project, but their influence will always be present.

Q5. Is Communication an important part of Team Coaches?

As a team coach or a management system, you can help to ensure that communication is quick and accurate. It is also critical to keep track of resources and timing. For some businesses and projects, this may imply paying someone to organise all of these details. Custom software solutions may be appropriate for others. What works best for you will be determined by your project requirements and company size.