Project managers fulfill a variety of roles: they facilitate, manage, solve problems, assess situations and offer guidance. They must work around constraints, set timelines and align resources. In an industry that demands perfection, learning how to maximize your potential and squeeze every bit of value from your time in the office is just another hurdle for project manager to overcome.
If you want to distinguish yourself as an ace project manager, here are just a few helpful tips to help you achieve your goals.
Review past projects
One you have a few successful projects under your belt, you’ll have at your disposal a rich pool of resources to help strengthen your project management skills. Here’s a simple checklist to help you analyse past projects so you can improve your future projects:
- Review project documentation. Is the documentation complete? If not, consider if current documentation procedures are too cumbersome and in need of a little streamlining.
- Reflect on project communications. Were project meetings productive? Was there a lapse in communication that led to delays?
- Look at any confrontations that may have occurred between yourself or team-members. It’s not uncommon to get a little frustrated considering the pressure placed on project managers and developers. Consider how to improve workflow and inter-department cooperation through communication to lower stress in the office.
- Evaluate how the project was delivered. Was the project completed on time and within budget? Did scope creep ever jeopardize your success? If so, you’ll need to revaluate your governance of future projects. Perhaps you spent too much time micro-managing developers, or perhaps didn’t keep them focused on the task at hand.
- Ask for feedback. Ask co-workers and those who worked under you if they felt your methods were effective. Sometimes a little constructive criticism can go a long way!
Take a project management course
There are a dozen ways project managers can secure additional training. Whether you’re a veteran project manager or are new to the industry, it never hurts to secure additional training in contemporary project management methods.
Most courses available through training providers are geared towards providing a general overview of project management best-practices, but if you look hard enough you can find alternatives that delves into some very niche and very targeted subjects.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider training yourself in agile project management. Agile methods are quickly taking over the project management industry due to their flexibility and practicality. A single agile course can really help you better understand how projects need to be managed to accommodate the modern consumer and adapt to rapidly changing economic conditions.
There’s no better way to affirm your skills in project management than training others. The process of mentoring really forces you to evaluate your own past performances and isn’t just a learning opportunity for the being trained but also for yourself.
Mentoring can help improve the soft skills vital to any successful project manager. You’ll need to be an active listener and to not only able provide constructive criticism but to receive criticism and adapt.
The inter-personal skills you develop over the course of mentoring will benefit you throughout your career and give you a fresh new perspective on your role as project manager.
Use all available tools
There’s really no reason not to ensure you are proficient and comfortable with the use of automation software. From task tracking software, to communication and file-sharing tools, there are hundreds of pieces of software that can aid your project development process. It’s simply a matter of finding which work best for you and your teams.
Automation can help you keep an eye of projects, making sure everything is running according to schedule. You can use software to situationally adapt levels of project governance, either giving your development teams more or less freedom to do as they please by adding or removing approval protocols.
You can schedule meetings, improve communications, streamline documentation, the list really is endless. You may need to selectively train team embers in the use of said software and appoint others to oversee that it is being used as intended but you really should not skip on the benefits automation can bring to your projects.
Keep up to date
Project management is a field of work that changes just as often as new technology is developed, or trends in consumer behaviour shift with cultural influences.
If you want to remain successful, you’ll need to stay on top of the latest news and watch closely for any developments made in the project management industry.
Naturally, some industries are more subject to change than others, but no project manager should ever feel as though their work has stagnated. There are advances being made in the field of project management on a daily basis, and in the modern economy, you’ll need very advantage you can find to keep a level playing field with your competition.
Learn from others
If you want to be one of the best project managers around, there’s no better place to start than learning from the success of others.
Project managers around the world have been pooling their knowledge and resources into the creation of comprehensive ‘best-practice’ principles for decades. Many of these you’ll find worked into the fibre of popular project management methodologies, and for good reason: they work.
If you’re not 100% sure what we’re talking about, take a look at the guiding PRINCE2 Principles to see how just a few simple rules can generate an entire framework around which to base your project management strategy.