Four Secrets to Successful Project Management

You find yourself in the middle of a project, overwhelmed by the expectations, running behind schedule and fighting battles with people who aren’t on the same page.

You aren’t sure how you got to this place and you aren’t sure how to get out.

This happens to the best IT project managers. In other words, it can happen to you.

Experienced project managers have learned the hard way that they need more than budgeting skills and workflow templates to succeed. We’ve asked our project management training team to put together a list of the top lessons they’ve learned over the course of managing technology projects.

Whether you manage multi-million dollar implementations or are responsible for rolling out hardware and software upgrades, keeping this list in mind will help you steer your projects toward success.

1. Start with the end in mind

How will you know if your project is successful? Before you launch into a new project, make sure you fully understand the goals and confirm them with your executive team. Think in terms of operational goals as well as impact to the overall organization.

Set clear expectations with upper management on budgeting and financial management as well as a timeline to reach the goals you have set forth. Set up short-term goals along the project timeline so that you can evaluate whether you are on track before it is too late to adjust.

Share the definition of success with the project team so they everyone is on the same page.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate

One of the most common pitfalls of technology projects is lack of information sharing. It’s essential to keep people in the loop throughout the project lifecycle.

Begin with a project kickoff that includes all your stakeholders. This is your chance to get people excited to be a part of the project. Make it clear what their role is and how they will contribute to success.

You can break out your communications into different streams, but make sure you also hold regular meetings and send updates to the full team so that everyone has access to information. It’s also helpful to have a central place where everyone can see the timeline, progress to date and all essential project documents.

You’ll encounter many different types of people during a project lifecycle and you’ll need to tailor your communication style to different types of stakeholders. Executives may prefer a brief overview tied to business goals, while the tech team may need specific detail.

What may be obvious to you as a technology expert may not be well understood by executives or other project participants. Explain the impact of your technology choices in the context of their jobs and activities and you’ll build greater understanding.

3. Get ready to adapt

When you encounter unexpected challenges – and you always will – you’ll need to hone those negotiation skills. You may need to trade resources with other teams, or explain to upper management why you need more budget or time to meet goals.

When assignments don’t work out, don’t be afraid to switch people around. The earlier you make changes, the more likely you’ll be to reach your eventual goal.

4. Don’t reinvent the wheel

You don’t need to start from scratch every time you start a new project. Identify a set of templates for common project management activities such as budgeting, workflow, calendars, and reporting dashboards. Those templates will become your go-to tools and save you endless hours.

Adapt them as needed to fit the preferences and structure of your organization. As you manage project after project make sure you capture your own best practices and lessons learned and continue to adjust them.

Looking for more secrets of project management?

We’d love to help. Find out more about how TEKnowLogical’s business training courses prepare you for project management success.