The role of a project manager is one of the most open-ended positions in business today. There are project managers in every single industry covering a wide range of tasks. Everything from movie production to electric car manufacturing has at least one project manager guiding workers toward key checkpoints in development.
Project management might seem simple on paper. You’re in charge of guiding a group of people to perform their individual jobs to complete the project as a whole. That might seem like nothing more than monitoring from afar, but it’s much more hands-on than that. Project managers need to have a lot of knowledge of their field, communicate well with others, and provide motivation to employees. These are only some of the many roles a project manager takes responsibility for.
While a lot goes into this entire endeavor, there are some ways to simplify and streamline projects and the project management process. Consider the following five tips for the next time you’re the head of a new project:
1. Always Have a Meeting Agenda
When leading a project, you will organize a variety of different meetings. There will be regular check-ins with your team to follow-up on progress. Other meetings will cover changes requested by the corporate office or the client that need to be incorporated. The more organized you make these gatherings, the more organized your project will be as a whole.
You should enter every meeting with a preplanned agenda. A meeting agenda will help you stay on topic and use your time wisely. Nobody enjoys a meeting that gets derailed and runs for twice as long as necessary. Sticking to an agenda limits tangents and shows you value everyone’s time.
2. Use 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 load 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 of this information is easily accessible by your team. You can even set restrictions on what certain people can see if some of those details are for your eyes only.
Project management software is especially useful for remote teams. Many projects today are completely digital, which allows some team members to do their work from home. When using software you can communicate with everyone just as easily as if you were sharing an office space.
3. Define Roles and Expectations Clearly
Every person involved in a project has a role to play. The more clearly you can define these employee roles and expectations, the smoother the project will run. This helps eliminate confusion and streamlines communication lines and leadership throughout the organization.
This would be a great time to put together a meeting agenda and get your team together. Sit everyone down and lay out the roles and responsibilities for each member. Leave time for questions so that as many details can be clarified as possible.
In a meeting such as this, team members will understand the roles of their coworkers as well. They’ll know exactly who to talk to for specific questions instead of asking around until they get to the right place. This helps streamline communication throughout the organization, ensuring the project is moving constantly forward.
4. Work With Deadlines
Most projects have a deadline for when they should 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’re less likely to have to rush a project in its final week. Procrastination is something almost everyone is all too familiar with. Checkpoints can help lessen the consequences of procrastinating for too long.
Start with at least a midpoint check-in for the project. List some measurable progress that you want to be made when you’re halfway to the final deadline. For more complex projects, you can add extra checkpoints as you see fit. Use each deadline as an opportunity to regroup and reevaluate your approach to the project. This gives you the opportunity to make some adjustments that will increase overall efficiency as you work toward full completion.
5. Check In Regularly
At the very core of project management are the people you work with. One of the most impactful things you can do as a manager is regularly check in on the individuals that form your team. This helps motivate them by acknowledging their efforts and praising them for the work they’ve done.
Regular check-ins also give employees the chance to speak their mind about the project at hand. There could 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 may drastically change and help how your project is being managed.
Part of what makes project management exciting is that every project is different. You’ll have new goals to meet and unique obstacles to overcome. Nevertheless, these organizational tips should come in handy for whatever sort of project you tackle next.