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There’s a lot that goes into managing a project, and it takes more than just being a well-organized person to get a project done smoothly. Chances are that you will make some mistakes the first few times you take on projects. The good news is that you’ll learn from those mistakes and come out as a better project manager. To help you prevent some of those mistakes from the start though, we’ve gathered some pro tips for project management. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an experienced manager.
To start on the right foot, you should first set out to define all of the details of your project. What is the problem you’re trying to solve, and what is the proposed solution? What are the KPIs that you will use to measure success? Are there milestones within the project that you can define? Figuring out as many of these details as you can before you begin working is essential to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Once you’ve determined as many details as you can, the next step is to figure out which teams will be involved, and what each team will be responsible for. Every task should have an owner to ensure that nothing is missed. At this stage you should also clearly communicate expectations and deadlines. It’s best to use a project management tool to track tasks, due dates, and progress. Tools like Asana or Trello are great products to help you get starting organizing tasks and collaborating with teammates in one central location.
Clear communication and direction is extremely important in the beginning stages of your project. It is equally important, however, to make sure that communication continues throughout the project. Furthermore, the communication should be two-ways. Encourage questions by providing answers without judgement, provide feedback regularly (both positive and constructive), and take others’ constructive feedback humbly. Communication throughout the project can save you from making mistakes and missing details.
Communication is one way to manage risk, but unfortunately, it won’t eliminate all risk. In order to manage risk, you’ll need to consider all of the things that might go wrong. What happens if the API that your engineers have been working on isn’t done in time? What will you do if the ad creative for your campaign isn’t performing well? How will you handle the loss of valuable human resources if someone gets sick or chooses to leave the company? Of course you can’t have a backup plan for every single possible setback, but you can at least be aware of them and make plans for some of those that are more likely to occur.
The end of a project is a good time to reflect on performance, and not just the KPIs that you determined. What will make you a great project manager in the end is evaluating the projects you work on. From the people involved to the processes you set in place, figure out what worked well and what you should change in the future. Ask your working team as well as outsiders for their feedback to gain some insight that you may not have. Take the feedback you receive and implement it on the next project you do.
As with any skill, project management will take time to master. Each project will be a little different, but each one will provide you with valuable insights and learning experience for future projects. Take these tips with you, and remember to keep track of other tips that you would like to remind yourself of along the way.
Kelsey Reaves is a content-focused Marketing Manager at TrustRadius, a trusted site for B2B software reviews. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on the latest trends in software and B2B news, she nurtures her passion for travel by exploring new cities and binge watching Anthony Bourdain.