Running successful projects is what being a project manager is all about. Here, I share my top tips for successfully managing a project.
To excel in project management, it’s essential to be a versatile all-rounder, ensuring every aspect of the operation runs smoothly. These tips provide a checklist worth revisiting occasionally to ensure you’re covering all bases and performing at your best.
Top 10 Tips to Be a Successful Project Manager
Guiding a project to success requires clear communication, strategic planning, and adaptability. These ten tips provide a roadmap to navigate challenges, align stakeholders, and exceed project expectations.
1. Secure a dedicated sponsor
Engage a key influencer within your organization. Their backing can marshal resources, pull strings behind the scenes, and clear bottlenecks. Their investment in your project’s success can make a massive difference in navigating corporate landscapes.
2. Craft a stakeholder communication plan
Identify every party with a stake in your project’s outcome. Establish a rhythm of updates to build trust. By consistently relaying project statuses and seeking input, you ensure alignment, foster collaboration, and pre-empt potential challenges.
3. Jointly define success metrics
Gather your stakeholders for an open conversation. Define what success looks like, and put it in measurable terms. With these shared metrics, you can regularly check the project’s pulse, recalibrate if needed, and steer toward a universally acknowledged success.
4. Outline project phases early
Before diving in, delineate the project’s progression. By laying out every stage and its objectives, the team can anticipate next steps, prepare accordingly, and navigate the project lifecycle with clarity and confidence.
5. Delineate tasks and highlight dependencies
Assign responsibilities clearly and define inter-task relationships. By understanding which tasks rely on others, you preemptively address potential bottlenecks, ensuring smoother transitions and efficient task execution.
6. Exercise vigilant change management
Every change, however small, can create ripples. Before implementing any change, assess its impact on scope, resources, and timelines. A systematic change evaluation ensures your project remains on track, even when adjustments are necessary.
7. Embed a risk management approach
Identify potential threats to your project early on. Design strategies to mitigate these risks. With a solid game plan in place, you can swiftly respond to challenges, keeping disruptions to a minimum and maintaining project momentum.
8. Determine essential documentation
Establish what needs documentation and when it’s due. Through this, you create a reference point, ensuring all stakeholders understand their roles, project trajectories, and any dependencies. It’s about providing a guiding light everyone can follow.
9. Measure outcomes using success metrics
Once the dust settles, it’s time to gauge the project’s effectiveness. Draw comparisons between the outcomes and the predefined success metrics. Analyze gaps, celebrate achievements, and identify areas of improvement for future endeavors.
10. Encourage constructive feedback
The project’s completion offers a treasure trove of learning opportunities. Engage your team and stakeholders for their perspectives. Understanding their experiences and takeaways refines your approach, turning every project into a stepping stone for the next.
Common Reasons Why Projects Fail
Why do so many projects fail? Researchers regularly conduct studies to find out the leading causes of project failure. Some of the studies are in the public domain. You can look up studies by such groups as Gartner, Carnegie Mellon University and the Project Management Institute.
The studies reveal a recurring theme. Here are some of the common causes they identify:
- project manager untrained
- poorly defined organizational objectives
- poorly defined requirements
- unrealistic project estimates
- lack of consultation with key project stakeholders
- no risk management plan
- loose project sponsorship and executive leadership
- loose scope containment and project change control
Do any of these look familiar to you? Do you recognize one or more as handicaps in your organization?
Successful projects do not just happen. They require structured planning, the right tools, insightful management and good interpersonal skills. Use our tips above to help make your next project a winner.