The ability to effectively manage projects is one of the most important leadership competencies you can have. A project is a temporary endeavor that requires clear goals, timeframes, resources, and accountability. To succeed, you need an effective leader who is able to manage projects in a way that results in certain objectives being met within time and financial constraints with limited resources. A business without effective leadership fails sooner rather than later. Are you ready to start your new career as an effective project manager?
Let’s review five key concepts and strategies to become more successful in your new role.
1. Set clear goals
Projects are often set without a clear understanding of the goals for the project. This can be a recipe for failure before the project can even get started. Instead, collaborate with the project sponsor and other key stakeholders to establish a project vision. This can be accomplished through the development of documents such as a project charter, a project vision statement, or a statement of work. The team can play some games such as using metaphors and "product boxing".
Establishing a vision will help you and your team to set clear, quantifiable goals that you can measure and track. Ideally, these goals will also be in alignment with your organization’s overarching business objectives and strategic directions and intent. You can set goals for time, budget, and results. For example, your goal for time may be to complete the project in three weeks with no more than two days of delay. Your goal for the budget may be that the project doesn’t incur costs that exceed a certain amount. As for results, your goal may be to improve certain metrics, such as increasing web traffic by 10% within the first 30 days of release.
Whichever metric(s) you choose, it is always a good idea to start with the end in mind so you can guide your team in the right direction.
2. Formulate a good understanding of the project’s requirements and metrics
The more you know about the project, the better your decisions will be. The method for identifying project requirements will depend on whether or not you have direct access to the customer. Start by reviewing the project’s documentation, such as Product Roadmaps, Release Plans, or any other guiding documents, to understand the goals and constraints of the project. Be sure to have a solid understanding of where in the product lifecycle your solution will be entering the market. If you have the opportunity, speak with key stakeholders, and the customer to get a better sense of the desired outcomes for the project, and then the project team members to understand the technical requirements.
One of the best ways to understand the project requirements is to model them. Start by determining the activities the customer will need to be able to do, which will then determine the project’s features. Then, prioritize and sequence work beginning with core features, then key supporting features. By doing this, you can get a better idea of the project requirements and see if they fit your company and/or project team's current capabilities. You can also look into the project’s core metrics. These metrics will help you understand the project’s status, its growth over time, and its performance.
3. Define a rollout plan with milestones
A rollout plan lis a comprehensive plan that shows your team’s path for delivering the project's deliverables. It highlights the milestones and events on the road to project completion and should be created before you start planning the project. A good rollout plan will outline the project’s objectives, the associated timeframes, the resources required to complete them, and the risks associated with each milestone.
You should also ensure that each milestone is linked to the final objectives and overall project success. All the project stakeholders, including executives, employees, and clients, should be involved in the creation of the rollout plan. This will help you identify potential roadblocks and potential solutions to overcome them, as well as generate a shared understanding and ownership of the project's activities and outcomes.
4. Communicate often and transparently
They say 99% of all problems stem from poor communication. Effective communication is the cornerstone of any project so as to better manage stakeholder expectations. You must be also able to communicate clearly with your team members and clients to resolve issues and address concerns. You also need to communicate milestones and progress during the project so that stakeholders remain informed and have the opportunity to provide important feedback on project activities and deliverables.
Be sure to communicate with stakeholders using a medium that they prefer. Start by creating a project communication plan that outlines the communication channels that you will use. You should also ensure that communications are timely and accurate. In today's electronic and remote-working world, a good practice is to use digital tools for communication, including project management software and online forums, if possible to increase transparency and facilitate and encourage accountability, collaboration, and information sharing..
5. Establish strong collaboration throughout your organization
Effective leadership is more than leading the project. It’s about leading a team, and ensuring that team members feel motivated, supported, and accountable for their work. You can do this by creating a culture that supports team members and establishes environments of psychological safety and trust. It is important for your project environment to be inclusive of all stakeholders, including executives, clients, employees, and consultants. This means that everyone will feel ownership of project activities and outcomes, and be empowered to participate in both tactical and strategic decision-making. It also means being inclusive of all stakeholders’ needs, perspectives, and wants.
To ensure that stakeholders feel part of the project, invite them to be a part of as much of the decision-making as possible. Additionally, you should strive to make work visible through the use of dashboards, information radiators, and kanban boards. Getting all the brains in the game will leverage the power of diversity, dramatically increasing your chances of project success.
Projects are temporary endeavors that require clear goals, timeframes, resources, and accountability. To succeed, you need an effective leader who is able to manage projects in a way that results in certain objectives being met by a certain date with limited resources.
You can become more successful as a project manager by setting clear goals, understanding the requirements and metrics of the project, defining a roadmap with milestones, communicating often and transparently, establishing strong collaboration throughout your organization, and, lastly, creating an inclusive culture of psychological safety and trust to encourage the participation of all key stakeholders and leverage the power of diversity.
If you would like to learn more about how to power up your project management skills and become one of the top-performing project managers in your organization, check out our courses which are designed to help you implement everything you learn immediately.