Project Management is essential for any company’s success. Besides reducing the risk for projects to become chaotic, project management reduces pressure created around the development of the project, increases the speed of completing the projects, and streamlines processes making it easier to solve problems that will arise. Keep in mind, no project management best practice is for every organization. It is a learning process and will most likely be constantly changing as people find better ways to reach the end result.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind as you begin to find your best practice.
Everything seems to move at the speed of light these days. Clients usually want things done yesterday so we typically feel the need to just dive in and get it moving forward. But it is essential to take the time to carefully plan your projects out. The time spent properly planning your projects will result in reduced cost and duration and increased quality over the life of the project. Take time to look at a high-level view of the overall project, define the objectives and plan out your scope of work. You should also take time to look for any foreseeable roadblocks. I promise, the more time you spend planning, the smoother things will go along the road!
When The Project Goes Rouge
Of course, despite our best efforts planning out projects, there will always be that pain in the butt project/client. In these instances, it is important to step up internal communication to make sure the team is all on the same page. It is also best to decrease outbound, client-facing communication. Use lean, direct language to reassure the client you are in control. Then, quietly and effectively execute the project without client involvement.
In these situations, it is best to become peaceful receptors of information, rather than broadcasting it. Broadcasting the problems will only make the situation worse. Don’t panic, just do your best to absorb the chaos, control and organize your dialogue, and help successfully resolve the situation so the project can be completed.
Mind The Gaps
As a business grows and the number of projects increases, gaps begin to form between important key players (between marketing and sales, marketing and production, leadership and talent, etc.). A key piece to project management is to mind those gaps, anticipate potential communication shortfalls and build systems that constantly improve alignment and clarity. Communication between key players is key!
Don’t Be the Bottleneck
As a successful project manager, your goal is to make sure your team is never a bottleneck. No client should spend more time than necessary anticipating updates or deliverables from your team. I feel like this is one of the most difficult goals to hit, but if you have a well thought out project management system down, it will definitely become easier. Ensuring all key players have access to the most up to date information neutralizes common, frustrating bottlenecks. Missing deliverables hurts profitability and, in most cases, doesn’t just affect one project. Of course a lot of times the client is the bottleneck and sometimes that can't be prevented. However, if you do your best to be up front with your timeline and expectations and communicate your needs clearly to the client, that will likely help keep them on track as well.
Of course, a project management software is a great idea to help track project progress and keep everyone on the same page. We, at Revenue River, use Teamwork and I can’t imagine life without it! There are hundreds of different options when it comes to project management tools, so do your research to figure out which one will help your company the most. Some other great examples are Trello, Asana, and Wrike. Most of these tools provide free trials so you can try a few of them out to find the solution that works best for you.
Like I said, Project Management is a learning process, and what works for us may not work for you. But planning your projects ahead of time will eliminate extraneous costs and time required to complete them, and if things get chaotic, make sure you increase internal communication. Always keep your eye out for potential shortfalls and gaps and continually watch for how processes can be improved. Lastly, take advantage of the great project management tools to help you produce the best results for your clients and increase your profitability!