Top Tips: Effective project management for managers
As a manager, you may need to plan and manage projects yourself or delegate projects to your team to plan and manage.
You may be tasked with trying to determine better ways to cuts costs in a plant, lay out a new marketing plan, review a process to improve efficiencies, or develop a new policy. All these projects involve:
- Expected results
Projects can be complex so here are some key tips to guide you when managing a project – or for you to use when coaching your team to manage projects effectively.
Design your project strategically
By this, I mean that you should stand back and understand the project context and environment. Not every project needs the same approach, and every approach has its own impact, resourcing and risk considerations.
What is the best way to deliver your project? I’m not talking about the project solution. I’m talking about the project management approach. Is your project best suited to a rolling Plan, Do, Check Act approach (that is, agile) or does it need a different approach? What approach will be the best fit, given the organisational culture, leadership style, sensitivity, complexity and urgency?
Planning is essential!
No matter what your choice of project management approach, you still need to plan. In order to develop your plan, you need to understand the work required to complete the project. Get started by following the steps below:
Develop a clear project goal – How do you begin a jigsaw puzzle? You look at the picture on the box to learn what the pieces will look like once they are assembled properly. Everyone involved in your project needs to understand the project goal.
Create ownership – Do this by developing an objective for each functional group or person associated with the project.
Use tools that give you a complete picture – Want to get a clear picture of what needs to be done? Your TO DO list just won’t cut it. Find (or develop) and use tools that help you get an understanding of ALL the work required for the project. (This includes both the work to complete the objectives and goal, and the work to manage the project to completion.) How often have you heard people say that had they been aware of all the work involved, and every step – deliveries, committees, approvals – their estimates would have been closer to the mark?
Break down the job into clear steps – Try using a work breakdown structure (diagrammatic view) to help see the whole picture, and all the work you need to plan, resource and manage the job at hand.
Develop a balanced monitoring approach
Are you keeping an eye on elements that are critical to the success of the project? Yes, we all know that we need to ensure we are delivering to time and budget requirements, yet often we forget that how we are managing can help or hinder the achievement of schedules and budgets.
If your team isn’t motivated to work at the planned rate, or with the appropriate commitment to quality, then schedules and budgets won’t stay on track for long.
Does your project’s success rely on end users taking ownership and using your project product well? If so, how are you measuring their level of ownership, commitment and capability during the implementation of the project?
A GPS takes information from three or four satellites to determine your exact position. A well-balanced monitoring approach should do the same to help you understand your progress to date, and your journey overall.
Manage people issues as well as technical issues
No project is completed by a lone wolf. You’ll find that your success is driven by a strong team of supporters and collaborators – so develop and nurture your team.
Studies show that project managers spend half their time managing differences. One major reason is that projects require the co-ordination and integration of many different people with differing work styles, most of whom don’t usually report directly to the project manager, and many of whom don’t usually work together. Just keep in mind that it’s people, not charts, that deliver successful projects.
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Contributor – Anita, Ancora Learning Specialist Facilitator
Anita helps people lead dynamically and creatively, with focus is on behaviour integrity and aligning organisational strategy with everyday activities. She specialises in helping organisations to be successful in Project and Change Management.