Managing projects is not simple. As a project manager, it’s your job to uphold the principles of project management and bring your projects to a successful end.
Your projects should adhere to the basics and remain within fixed constraints in terms of time, budget, scope, and standards of quality.
So whether you’re a beginner in the field of project management or someone with years of experience, there’s always room to improve and grow.
That’s why in this post, we’ll equip you with top strategies to take your project management skills to the next level.
Becoming a better project manager
Here are the best practices you can put into action right away in order to become a better project manager.
Ensure Adequate Communication
Effective communication is crucial to the success of any project. You must have transparent and timely communication methods to keep all the project stakeholders on the same page at all times.
In contrast, miscommunication is extremely dangerous. It can cause discrepancies in timeline and budget, along with triggering conflict among team members.
Image Source: 2020 Project Management
With features such as @mentions, priority assignments, and project notes, these tools make a project manager’s life easier and bring much-needed transparency to the process.
In addition, you can also consider scheduling short stand-up meetings on a regular basis. These check-ins can go a long way in nipping potential issues in the bud.
Plan Contingencies for Potential Risks
Just like with anything else in life, projects rarely go 100% as planned. There are hundreds of variables that can lead to thousands of unforeseen possibilities.
That’s why another part of being a better project manager is developing the foresight to identify what can go wrong. You need to come up with as many ‘what if’ situations as you can and make contingency plans for the team to handle those scenarios.
That way if the project starts going out of control, you can activate plan B and mitigate any risks that may arise.
Keep the Budget in Sight
49.5% of manufacturing managers consider cost as their biggest issue with regard to project management, according to a study. So being able to navigate project budgeting is one of the best ways to improve as a project manager. For example, here’s a template you can use to make things easier.
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By efficient budgeting, you can prevent many complications a project may face and keep it moving on schedule. When planning a project, focus on adopting a proper budgeting process and making reasonable assumptions to avoid going overboard.
Engage High-Level Stakeholders
Does this sound familiar? You and your team worked hard to complete phase one of your project and presented the results to a client or senior-level manager. Unfortunately, it was not at all in line with what they expected.
Now you and your team will have to carry out some big changes that will increase your cost and billable hours.
Not involving key stakeholders early on in shaping the project is a big mistake. An uninvolved client or decision-maker can cause a lot of issues near the end of the project.
So make sure to invite your clients and other top stakeholders as soon as possible to share their inputs in shaping the project. Keep them in the loop and address their concerns as frequently as possible.
Keep Scope Creep in Check
Some level of scope creep is normal and will always sneak into a project. In fact, 52% of project teams have acknowledged the same. In excess, however, it can wreck the whole endeavor.
Clients who don’t seem to make up their minds about what they want and have ambiguous requirements are a big challenge for any project manager.
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One way to deal with this issue is to proactively engage clients in the planning phase and don’t accept vague answers. Help them with zero in on the aspects that you need to be concrete before moving on. In addition, walk them through the consequences of what might happen if they later change their mind.
Identify and Bridge the Skill Gap
It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this is 100% true for project management as well. When multiple people come together to work on a single project, their performance isn’t just their own, but highly depends on the skills of all the individuals on the team.
If each of your team members does not possess the skills corresponding to their role in the team, it’s not going to end well for anyone.
That’s why effective project managers make a list of skills they need for a project in advance, assess the resources they have, and identify the gaps they need to fill. They can then decide to recruit new team members or train existing ones accordingly.
Adopt Concrete Goal-Setting and Planning
If we were to pick just one requirement for the successful completion of a project, it would be clear goals and a concrete plan to achieve those goals.
Clarity can make a tremendous difference to project outcomes, while the lack of it can lead to serious issues. As a project manager, it is crucial that you form a system of quantifying the progress of your projects.
For example, you can set up milestones and quality checks to be used at different intervals during the project. In addition, popular approaches such as SMART goal setting can help you set the right goals and keep your team working as a single, cohesive unit.
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Over to you
Project management is a huge field. As such, there are hundreds of ways to become a better project manager and dozens of good tools to support you. But not every method will apply to your specific project and situation. Your experience and experimentation play a major role in your development as a project manager.
As you use these best practices, you’ll get to the point where you’ll be able to generate your own unique ways to get better at project management. And that’s when you’ll know that you’re on the right track. Good luck!
Guest author: Hitesh Sahni is a content strategy consultant, editor, and founder of Smemark, an upscale content marketing studio helping brands and agencies in multiple niches accelerate growth with superior, scalable content writing for 10+ years. Get his 5 essential templates & worksheets to kickstart content creation, free.