Today’s fast-paced work environment often has managers working on multiple projects at any given moment. Planning, executing and controlling so many moving pieces is no easy feat, and when your team doesn’t have a solid grasp of what the end goal is, the project can quickly fall apart. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to define the goal of the project, build a comprehensive work plan, manage budgets, oversee your team and make sure the project is executed successfully. The key to being a great project manager is not just about creating effective plans, budgets and timelines; project managers must also maintain an organized environment and work with their teams to ensure everyone is on the same page.


While it’s important to have the proper knowledge and tools to oversee a project, it’s important to know how to put that theory into action. Below is a useful guide of the top 5 best practices for effective project management.


  1. Planning
    As a project manager, planning lies at the core of your role. No successful project was completed without having the foundation of a solid plan. It’s essential for a project manager to begin each project by laying out each step of the process, delegating work to the right team members, creating timelines, estimating budgets, securing resources and developing contingency plans for when certain aspects of the project fall short. The overall success (or downfall) of a project is directly impacted by a project manager’s ability to effectively plan. It’s important for the project manager to always anticipate what lies ahead, including potential roadblocks that may stall or halt the project entirely.


  1. Communication
    One of the most important skills a strong project manager has is being able to properly communicate. This includes being able to speak effectively to your team as well as to your client. Frequent and effective communication allows you to make sure everyone is on the same page and helps avoid misunderstandings or potentially uncomfortable conversations. For your team, it’s important to keep multiple lines of communication open. Having tools like Skype, Slack or other chat software is an easy way to keep in touch with team members regularly. If your team members prefer to chat in person, scheduling ongoing in-person meetings is a great way to see what each team member is up to and how far along they are with their responsibilities for the project. For clients, being able to properly communicate the details of the project and providing routine status updates is essential to keeping them in the loop and confident in your team’s ability to deliver. Status updates and reports also allow project managers to keep track of what still needs to be accomplished including current action items, potential risks, next steps and more.


  1. Prepare for Risks
    Projects are seldom completed without having a few bumps or issues come up along the way. Even when you plan everything out meticulously, there will always be something to come up that can potentially impede the successful completion of a project. In these cases, it’s incredibly important for project managers to prepare ahead of time for any issues that may arise.  Prior to kicking off a project, an effective project manager will sit down and assess all potential risks and delays that may occur. This includes issues with budgets, not completing tasks by their scheduled due dates or seeing goals falling short of the estimated projections for the project. Being prepared will instill confidence in your team and clients, with the knowledge that should issues arise, you’re ready to tackle them head-on. In addition, it not only shows you care about the outcome of the project, but also helps to avoid excessive time dealing with potential fires, instead diverting focus on reaching project goals.


  1. Leadership
    It’s simply not enough to just manage your team on a project. A great project manager is someone who effectively leads by motivating, setting goals, inspiring others and coaching those who need it. You want to make sure that your team has everything they need to get the job done and that includes providing positive reinforcement. However, it won’t always be about spreading good vibes. Inevitably, there will be moments where team members may not be performing to the best of their abilities and it will be your job as a project manager to make sure those issues are addressed immediately. You also want to know what your team’s strengths and weaknesses are, and delegate tasks based on that knowledge. When you find a great balance among your team members, it will be easier for everyone to get things done efficiently. At the end of the day, the outcome of a given project is dependent upon your effective leadership, so mastering your skills will be integral to its success.


  1. Evaluation
    A great project manager is someone who is constantly looking for ways to improve. Evaluating projects after they are completed allows you to recognize what things went well and what things went wrong. Even when a project was successful, it’s important to look back and see what things stood out in order to implement them for future projects. If a project did not work out, what tasks could have been done differently? Was it a technical issue or a miscommunication? You want to be able to recognize the good and the bad in order to move forward with the best practices for your next project. Having the ability to constantly reflect and improve is an integral skill for any project manager.


Finally, a good project manager never stops learning. Hopefully this guide will provide you with some great advice on how to hone your skills for your next project. Looking to connect with an agency who understands the ins and out of effective project management? Contact us today!