Whether you’re a project manager by task or title, click here to read expert tech tips on how to be a successful project manager
9.9% of every dollar invested is wasted due to poor project performance.
While that number is down 27% since 2013, it’s due to some high-performing companies that have a 92% success rate.
Yet there are many underachievers who rank at 32% success rate.
Smart organizations (and in turn smart project managers) understand that proven project management practices lead to better project outcomes.
Read on to learn how to be a successful project manager.
Set Goals and Re-evaluate Often
It’s easier to work backward from your end goal than it is to plan without a specific and clear destination.
Smaller, actionable goals act as project checkpoints to keep you and your team on the right path.
This way, you’re able to know how well the project is doing and how close you’re getting to completion.
Manage Stakeholders Expectations
How to be a good project manager relies largely on communication skills. Keep your various stakeholders in the loop and give them plenty of warning as issues creep up.
If your stakeholders understand and have been prepped for certain outcomes, they’re going to react better.
This will help you avoid putting out fires down the road. And it allows your stakeholders to have confidence in you as the project manager — and in the project itself.
Be Detailed And Organized
In order to keep a project moving forward, you need to be organized and on top of several details and tasks.
A lot of details will be coming at you, sometimes all at once.
Successful project managers understand that it’s crucial to have a system to document everything. That way, when a team member or client asks for something specific, you have it handy and it’s well-documented.
Consider Microsoft Project to help you stay on top of your project.
Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, explained that sometimes we listen so we can answer or reply. But to be effective communicators, we should listen to understand.
If you want to learn how to be a better project manager, learn how to listen without your personal views and opinions clouding what you’re hearing.
Listen from a place of mindfulness and genuineness. It may be difficult at first, but as you practice, you’ll learn to make this type of attentive listening a habit.
You’ve heard this before. Delegate, delegate, delegate. But what’s more important than simply delegating is to delegate to the right people for the right task.
As a project manager, you don’t have to know everything.
Rely on the expertise of your team and those who are positioned to take responsibility for specific parts. Maybe that involves looking on freelance websites to find the right talent for a specific task.
Avoid Scope Creep By Ensuring All Agree
Once you have a strategy or plan in place, communicate with every team member and your clients to ensure that all understand exactly what the project entails.
If you have pushback, take time to listen attentively. Then, ask questions and provide clear explanations.
If appropriate for your project, have everyone involved sign the project plan. This will help you avoid scope creep as the project unfolds. Scope creep in a project runs the risk of not meeting the deadline, exceeding the budget and derailing the project completely.
As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to keep the project focused and specific to avoid scope creep.
Here’s another tip to help you avoid scope creep because it’s a very real threat to your project.
Along with having everyone on board at the beginning, it’s imperative that you communicate the consequences for not keeping to the plan.
Let your clients know how providing feedback one day late will affect the rest of the project, your team, and ultimately them. Explaining the consequences makes the picture crystal clear to all stakeholders.
Consequences should be clearly outlined to avoid scope creep and to ensure that the responsibility doesn’t fall into your lap.
Be Realistic and Transparent
Being honest upfront and being transparent are vital during project planning and delivery. Temper your enthusiasm by setting realistic timelines.
A rookie mistake is to be swayed to promise to deliver a project in a shorter amount of time because the client wants it. It’s better to explain why a project requires a certain timeframe and then deliver a good product instead of one that’s haphazardly stitched together.
Become Increasingly More Efficient
There’s no way you could become too efficient. Once you have a system or process that works, evaluate how you can improve it.
Keep track of what works well and use those processes again and keep trying to improve them.
Did you know that each year around $35 billion are wasted on ineffective meetings?
A meeting may be the best way for you to communicate with your team or client. But it also may not be.
Minimize the number of meetings you hold as well as the length of them. Also, consider who’s really needed in each meeting. Your organization’s executives probably aren’t needed in a trouble-shooting meeting but should be included in an update meeting.
Don’t forget to make use of available tech. Maybe a Google Hangout is a better alternative than an in-person meeting.
Have a Backup Plan
As much as you plan and organize and communicate, chances are something will still not go according to plan.
Have a backup for these situations. Keep calm and execute your backup plan to keep moving the project forward.
Use Project Management Software
Staying on top of a project can be stressful. Thankfully, there are solutions that help project managers do what they do best – manage! Project management software’s key benefit is it’s the ability to merge all members involved in the project, making for greater collaboration.
Users can set up and schedule tasks, share resources, manage the budget and provide reports. There’s a pool of project management solutions out there, which is why it is vital you properly assess and select the best one for you.
Comparison websites, such as TEC, list some of the top project management solutions available on the market today, which makes the research stage of the selection process a simpler one.
Bottom Line on How to Be a Successful Project Manager
As you can see, there’s a lot involved in learning how to be a successful project manager. Excellent organization and communication skills are key.
We hope this post has helped you identify the areas that you can improve on to have greater success.