April 21, 2014

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Project Management Resources

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In order to maintain consistent project management success, it is important to learn and understand how to make the most of your resources. Making the most out of the leader, the team and the way the project is organized will help ensure a smooth process and flawless execution of your project’s goals.

Make the most out of your project manager

In any leadership role, first impressions count. Project managers have to make sure that many different personality types work together in order to deliver the project on time and under budget. It is essential that agendas are outlined as soon as possible. Hosting a project kick-off meeting can set a specific tone and establish authority among your project’s stakeholders.

This initial meeting with your team will illustrate your competence, character and your intentions to cultivate strong relationships throughout the process. Take this time to discuss the goals of the project and which methods and tools you’ll use to reach them. Explain your risk management plan including which team member will be responsible for each action. Having specific people responsible for specific items will make it much easier to deal with a problem should one arise later on.

Lay out your plans for communication among the team as well. Projects can go wrong when the team works independently without staying in touch with one another, so establish the lines of communication from the onset. Strong day to day communication can help everyone stay on pace and make adjustments when necessary. This also allows for future team meetings to be more efficient, because you won’t have to waste time catching everyone up on each other’s progress.

Make the most out of your team 

Although project management is not a contact sport, it is wise to approach the assignment as a coach would approach a championship game. Learn exactly who your players are, discover their personal strengths and talents and leverage these skills for the most beneficial outcome.

Getting to know your team members means paying attention to their work ethic and how they spend their days. Take note of the areas they excel at and any possible shortcomings they may have. Always learn about other projects they are working on besides yours, as this can have an impact on your timeline. Listen carefully in meetings to their insights and ideas and initiate conversations whenever possible.

Finally, encourage innovation and creative thinking within the group. In so doing, you are fostering a culture of solution-based thinking where strategies come from within instead of being dictated from the top down. Learning from one another can help to promote morale and build trust with the team. This is a more efficient means of problem solving and instills a sense of confidence and commitment in team members.

Make the most out of your organization style

Project management software is one of the most valuable assets for project managers. Your entire organization style can be streamlined with the right software. Team members and vendors can communicate more effectively and integrate efforts in accomplishing common goals. The team can prioritize and keep track of personal responsibilities and managers can access the data needed to alleviate any budgeting headaches.

As a project manager, it’s your job to not only think of your own assumptions about the project, but also put yourself in your stakeholders’ minds and determine what theirs might be as well. Include any assumptions or constraints at the very top of the project management plan so that all who read it will be looking through the same lens.

One of the challenges of managing any project is to determine how often the group should meet to discuss any issues or changes that arise in the development plan. Meetings are beneficial when needed, but calling a meeting over every small thing can waste valuable time. Before you call your next meeting, determine if the information could be conveyed in an email, phone call or a one-on-one conversation instead. If the information is delivered verbally be sure to follow up with a brief email to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Organizing virtual team members can make communication challenging. Virtual meetings via conference calls or online chats can be frustrating because of the many technical difficulties, and may hinder the exchange of ideas. For this reason it’s a great idea to appoint a virtual attendant who will not only tackle any technical difficulties that may arise, but also serve as the meeting facilitator, ensuring everyone contributes their ideas equally and effectively.

Project management is about the balance of planning and execution. Make the most out of your leadership and your team’s talents right from the beginning. Maintain communication and stay organized throughout the process. Your project can be a success when all of the resources you have at your disposal are developed to the fullest.

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  • Karen Wilhelm

    I’d agree that face-to-face communication and having team members located nearby is the best way to communicate and work on projects. However, so many teams are globally dispersed, and even local members have travel obligations. I’d be interested in knowing what virtual meeting or online collaboration tools people are using. Sharepoint seems to be popular, Salesforce.com is moving from sales to enterprise tools, SAP is adding social tools, and things like Yammer can be bolted onto other shared systems as well. I’d like to know from you, Erin, and blog readers what they think about those tools or what others they would add.