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Best Practices Each Project Manager Should Know

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Project management is a critical function for any organization that aims to accomplish its objectives and achieve its goals. A project manager’s role is to oversee and coordinate resources, tasks, and processes to ensure the successful completion of a project within the allocated budget, timeline, and quality standards. However, managing a project is not an easy task, and project managers must be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle the complexities of project management success.

Several best practices have been identified and developed to aid project managers in their quest to achieve successful project completion. These best practices are based on industry standards, research, and proven successful project management methodologies. By adhering to these best practices, project managers can improve their chances of delivering projects on time, within budget, and to the required quality.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the project management best practices you should know about.

Define Clear Goals And Objectives

A project manager must clearly understand what the project aims to achieve and what specific results are expected upon completion. The project goals and objectives should be well-defined, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When the goals and objectives are clear and well-defined, everyone involved in the project will understand the project’s purpose and what they need to do to achieve the desired results.

Defining clear goals and objectives also helps the project manager in prioritizing tasks and allocating resources.

Additionally, clear goals and objectives provide a framework for monitoring and controlling project progress. They serve as benchmarks against which the project manager can measure progress and determine whether the project is on track.

When everyone on the project team knows what they’re working towards, they can align their efforts and work collaboratively towards achieving the project goals and objectives. This, in turn, increases team morale and motivation, leading to better project outcomes.

Create a Detailed Project Plan

A project plan guides the project team toward achieving the project goals and objectives. It serves as a blueprint for project execution, outlining every step of the project, including timelines, budgets, and resources required.

A comprehensive project plan provides a clear and concise picture of the project’s scope, deliverables, and timelines. It helps the project manager to break down the project into smaller tasks, making it easier to monitor progress and identify roadblocks.

Additionally, a well-structured project plan provides the project team with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

Creating a project plan also involves estimating the costs and resources required to complete the project successfully. This enables the project manager to allocate resources effectively, identify potential risks, and develop strategies to mitigate them. A detailed project plan also provides stakeholders with a clear understanding of the project’s scope, timelines, and budget, making it easier to manage expectations and communicate progress.

Communicate Effectively

Clear and consistent communication ensures everyone involved in the project is informed, aligned, and working towards the same goals. Project managers should communicate frequently and clearly with stakeholders, team members, and anyone involved in the project.

Effective communication involves using a variety of communication channels, including face-to-face meetings, emails, and project management software. The project manager must ensure that everyone on the project team understands their roles and responsibilities, the project’s objectives, and how their work contributes to the overall success of the project.

In addition to communicating with the project team, the project manager must also keep stakeholders informed about the project’s progress, including any delays or changes in the scope, timeline, or budget. Clear communication with stakeholders helps manage expectations, avoid misunderstandings, and build trust.

Finally, effective communication involves active listening. The project manager should listen carefully to feedback from the project team and stakeholders, seeking to understand their concerns and address them promptly. Active listening helps build strong working relationships, fosters collaboration, and ultimately leads to project success.

Manage Project Risks

No project is entirely risk-free, and project managers must identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate or avoid them.

Risk management involves identifying potential risks, assessing their likelihood and impact, and developing strategies to mitigate or avoid them. The project manager should involve the project team in the risk management process, as they are best placed to identify potential risks associated with their work.

Once potential risks have been identified, the project manager should develop a risk management plan that outlines strategies for mitigating or avoiding the risks. This may involve contingency planning, developing alternative approaches, or seeking external support.

Regular risk assessments should be carried out throughout the project’s life cycle to identify new risks and update the risk management plan accordingly. Effective risk management requires a proactive approach, with the project manager anticipating potential risks and taking steps to prevent them from occurring.

By managing project risks effectively, project managers can reduce the likelihood of project delays, cost overruns, and failure. Risk management enables project managers to identify potential issues before they become significant problems, allowing them to take action before it’s too late.

Establish a Strong Team

A project manager should ensure that the team is composed of the right people with the necessary skills and experience to complete the project successfully.

Effective team building involves identifying the required skills and experience and recruiting team members accordingly. The project manager should also ensure that the team members have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities and that everyone is working towards the same goals.

In addition to recruiting the right team members, the project manager should also create a positive team culture that fosters collaboration, communication, and mutual respect. Encouraging open communication and regular feedback between team members helps to build trust and strengthen working relationships.

The project manager should also provide the team with the necessary support and resources, ensuring they have the tools and equipment they need to complete their work efficiently. Effective team management involves monitoring progress, providing feedback, and taking action to resolve any issues or conflicts that arise.

Finally, the project manager should also invest in team development, providing opportunities for training and professional development to help team members enhance their skills and knowledge.

Track Progress Regularly

Project managers should monitor progress regularly, using project management software and tools, to assess whether the project is meeting its objectives and identify any issues that may arise.

Tracking progress involves monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) such as timelines, budgets, and resources allocated. This enables project managers to identify any potential delays or issues and take corrective action promptly. Regular progress updates should be communicated to the project team and stakeholders to ensure everyone is informed and aligned.

If the project is not progressing as planned, the project manager must adjust the project plan accordingly. This may involve redefining project goals and objectives, revising timelines or budgets, or reallocating resources to ensure the project stays on track.

Effective progress tracking also involves celebrating milestones and achievements along the way, providing positive feedback to the team and stakeholders, and recognizing their contributions to the project’s success.

Use Project Management Tools

A project manager should use appropriate project management tools to help plan, monitor, and control project activities.

There are numerous project management tools available, from simple spreadsheets to comprehensive project management software. These tools can help project managers to manage schedules, budgets, resources, and risks, and track the progress.

Some of the most popular project management tools include Gantt charts, which provide a visual representation of project schedules and timelines, and Kanban boards, which help manage project tasks and workflow. Project management software, such as Microsoft Project, Trello, or Asana, provides comprehensive project management tools to help manage all aspects of a project.

Effective use of project management tools requires training and expertise. Project managers should be familiar with the tools they use and ensure that the team members are trained appropriately. They should also ensure that these tools are suitable for the project and can be easily integrated into the team’s workflow.

Manage Project Changes

Project changes are inevitable during any project, and project managers should be prepared to manage them effectively. Change management involves identifying potential changes, assessing their impact on the project, and developing strategies to implement them.

Project managers should ensure that changes are communicated to the project team and stakeholders promptly. They should assess the impact of changes on project timelines, budgets, and resources, and revise the project plan accordingly. Changes should also be reviewed by the project sponsor and stakeholders to ensure that they align with the project’s goals.

Effective change management requires collaboration between the project manager, project team, and stakeholders. Project managers should encourage feedback and suggestions from team members and stakeholders, and ensure that changes are implemented effectively.

It is also important to track changes throughout the project’s life cycle, to ensure that the changes are implemented correctly. Project managers should document changes and their impact, and communicate these changes to the team and stakeholders regularly.

Foster Collaboration

Project managers should create an environment that promotes open communication and collaboration among team members. This means establishing clear roles and responsibilities, encouraging teamwork, and providing opportunities for team members to collaborate and share ideas.

Effective collaboration can help identify potential problems and opportunities, and enable team members to work together to find solutions. Collaboration can also help to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals.

Project managers should also encourage team members to share their expertise and promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement. This can be achieved through training, mentoring, and providing opportunities for team members to develop new skills.

Collaboration should also extend to stakeholders, including project sponsors, customers, and suppliers. Project managers should communicate regularly with stakeholders and involve them in decision-making processes to meet their needs and expectations.

Evaluate And Improve

The evaluation process should include reviewing the project plan, timelines, budget, and the performance of the project team. The evaluation should also consider any challenges that were encountered and the strategies that were used to overcome them.

To conduct a comprehensive evaluation, project managers should seek feedback from the project team, stakeholders, and customers. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and to develop strategies to improve future projects.

Project managers should document the evaluation process and findings, and use this information to develop a set of best practices for future projects. These best practices should include strategies for managing project risks, communication, collaboration, and change management.

By continuously evaluating and improving project management processes, project managers can increase the likelihood of achieving project success and building a strong team. Improvements in project management processes can also result in cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

Project management is a complex and challenging task that requires careful planning, effective communication, and strong leadership skills. By following best practices, project managers can improve the likelihood of project success.

The best practices discussed in this article include:

  • Defining clear goals and objectives,
  • Creating a detailed project plan,
  • Communicating effectively,
  • Managing project risks,
  • Establishing a strong team,
  • Tracking progress regularly,
  • Using project management tools,
  • Managing project changes,
  • Fostering collaboration,
  • Evaluating and improving.

Effective project management can be a key differentiator for businesses in today’s competitive environment. By adopting best practices, project managers can help organizations achieve their strategic goals, increase efficiency, and improve customer satisfaction.

What other project management best practices do you think should be on this list? Let me know if the comments.

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About Vit Lyoshin

Since 2011, Vit has worked with product teams, managing mobile, web, and cloud systems development within commercial industries and government. Applying his strong planning, coordinating, communication, interpersonal, and decision-making skills led multiple cross-functional teams to deploy various software products for global and national companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as for the US government.

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