7 Super Tips for Project Managers to Handle their Projects in an Easier Way

As a project manager, your primary role will be to bring all your projects into successful completion both in terms of budget as well as time. There are various variables that you have to manage and control in order to ensure that project does not veer off the wagon and become a costly white elephant for your employer or client.

Successful preparation and advance planning are always key ingredients to realizing project success. Part of the preparation involves building sufficient expertise and knowledge on project management by undertaking programs such as PRINCE2 Certifications. This is a project management methodology that is recognised globally and which can open the doors to many other opportunities.

From the outside, project management can seem like a fairly simple straightforward process. After all, as a project manager or project director, all you have to do is set the budget, have a deadline and choose the right people to execute the project while occasionally dropping in to ensure everything is going according to plan.

In reality, it is never as linear. You will have to grapple with various project management variables such shifting project scope, changing deadlines, inaccurate or incomplete project scope, the wrong people for the job who do not understand what they are doing, a shortfall in project budget, a lukewarm top level support for the project, duplication of roles or overlapping roles. All these challenges add a layer of difficulty in the execution and increase the probability that your project is not going to be a success. However, there are various project management best practices that project managers can incorporate so as to improve the probability that the project is going to be a success.

#1 Have all the project details upfront

The first step to guaranteeing the success of your project is having a fully developed project scope which has been approved the project stakeholders before you start working on the project. The scope must cover all the project deliverables, timeline and budget for the project. There must also be provision on how change requests on the scope of the project will be handled in order to avoid future conflicts.

#2 Put the right team in place 

Your project will only be as successful as the team you have working on it. The people that you choose for the execution of the project must have the relevant skills, training and experience in handling these kinds of projects. PRINCE2 training among all team members is always a big plus and will lead to smooth working relationship and greater project success. There must be a high level of competence right from the top with the project manager or director right down to the lowest ranked member of the team. A project management team is generally an interdependent system and if one member of the team in not pulling in their part of the lever, it is going to negatively impact other aspects of the project execution.

#3 Put in place realistic expectations 

Before you embark on the project , make sure that every stakeholder involved understands the limitations of the project. Setting unrealistic expectations is always going to lead to conflicts, either with your team or with the project stakeholders. You cannot perform miracles but you can have reasonable milestones and expectations that everyone will be happy with.

#4 Make it measurable

Have KPIs or reasonable criteria that you can use in measuring the project success. Otherwise how are you going to be sure that you are moving on the right path? Have check points that you can take back to the project owners and even your team so that they can have the assurance that everything is going according to plan.

#5 Be a leader 

Embrace your leadership role enthusiastically. Don’t be the unwilling leader when it comes to project execution. Take charge and cultivate the atmosphere that will bring together the disparate personalities and skills for successful project implementation. Communicate effectively, both with your team and your client.

There are hundreds of ways of demonstrating leadership. As David Weir of Weboptimizers would say, just liek amrketing project management requires hard work.

#6 Manage the risks 

The reason many projects are white elephants is that the project managers never anticipated risks and implemented a risk handling strategy. All projects are fraught with risks and you need to have a system of managing these so that they don’t prove to be fatal. Think of the various kinds of risks that you are likely to encounter and put in place the necessary contingency plans that will pull you out of the quagmire. Sometimes, the risks may be too huge midway into the project that you will have to make the critical decision of halting the project.

#7 Avoid micromanaging the project

While have said it is good to take leadership, that is not the same as micromanaging every aspect of the project. One of the reasons why you hired the best talents for the project execution is so that everyone fits naturally into their roles and you don’t have to manage every little aspect of the project.

It is important to allow your team members some breathing space so that they can apply their considerable skills and talents in ensuring the scope of the project is fulfilled and that the project is executed according to the expectations of the stakeholders. In many cases, micromanaging projects is going to be counterproductive and is going to impede the progress of the project. You still need to take your leadership role but if you are good project manager, you will be able to create the kind of balance that steers the project forward but still gives everyone room to work on realizing the success of the project. 

One way to have successful project execution is by having a system in place which all project stakeholders can use in order to ensure the success of the project and which will manage and steer the progress of the project. It is also important to have a system of reward and motivation that drives the team members towards a successful project implementation.