As professional project managers we’ve worked on a number of different projects all with different specifications and unique cases. We’ve also seen our fair share of challenges, risks, and inadvertent schedule delays. As project managers, we’ve seen it all. Here are some of the best ways to make sure projects go smoothly.
- Know Your Clients and Customers. Knowing and establishing relationships with clients and customers is half the battle. This can help you immensely in determining schedules, budgets, and deliverables. This may be more difficult for less experienced project managers to grasp at first, but each detail-oriented project manager should be able to get to know the organization’s clients or customers after some time, or at least understand what their goals are. Knowing these goals can make all the difference in how effectively you project manage that particular client’s projects.
- Recruit a Great Team. The other key are in effective project management has to do with the team. Recruiting and managing a good team can make all the difference in how a project is managed and carried out. Team members should all be working to one common goal: serving the client. Remember that a team is only as strong as its weakest link. In addition, project managers should keep in mind that they aren’t “managers” but rather “leaders”. This is vital to remember when leading teams and projects. The difference between a manager and a leader lies with the project manager. He or she should encourage team member success rather than solely delegating tasks.
- Identify Risks and Establish Risk Response Plans. One of the most crucial points in project management is identifying project risks. Each project has its own set of challenges and risks that come along with it. A project manager should spend time at the beginning and identify any and all certain and uncertain risks and the probability and impact levels for each. Then, the project manager should design risk response plans for each of the risks. This way if and when each risk comes about the project manager and team can address them according to the plan that was put into place. Some of the best ways to address these as a group is hold planning meetings on a regular basis and keep all team members informed as to the project status and progress of each risk and how each is being addressed.
- Archiving and Documentation. Another key area of project management—before, during, and even after the project life cycle—is documenting each step and archiving the project properly so that other project managers or team members can resurrect the documentation or information on a particular project should it be needed for future projects. One of the great benefits to doing this is a lot of time and effort can be saved on the part of the project manager if he or she has another similar project to reference to, to see how the completed project was carried out.
Of course these are only some of the ways that professional project managers can make sure projects go smoothly. Each project has its own unique cases and specs attached to it, so you may need to get creative in how to deal with certain challenges and risks.