Are you just entering the workforce or a new job with your existing company as a project manager? We learn a lot in college and with programs for this position.
However, many parts of being a project manager are learned along the way and through experience. If you are taking on a project manager role for the first time, here are just five project management tips to help you get started.
1. Use the Right Tools
Picking the right project management tools is extremely important. These applications will become your best friends throughout the lives of your projects. If you are still up in the air with which to choose, here are the features you should look for and suggestions you can explore.
Using a tool that is intuitive in its design and features is more significant than you might think. You should use an application that is easy for you to understand right out of the gate.
Keeping up with projects tasks and statuses is simple with tools you can use on both your computer and your mobile device.
Some applications are robust and full-featured. They allow you to create Gantt charts, team-specific calendars, task lists, baselines, automations, and so much more. For professional project managers, all-encompassing tools are convenient. This includes applications such as Microsoft Project, Smartsheet, and Zoho Projects.
Other applications may not contain all of the bells and whistles as similar tools, but might be easier to learn and include the exact features that you need. For this situation, check out applications like Trello, Wrike, and Asana for tasks, collaboration, and simple tracking.
The bottom line is that you should determine which features you need and want the most, and then check out various tools to find out which is best for you.
2. Use Templates
You not only have to prepare yourself for the project, but the “paperwork” involved with managing it. From meeting planning to status reports to email updates, get ready for your project by gathering handy, time-saving templates.
Templates come in all shapes and sizes and most-commonly for Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. MakeUseOf has you covered with a variety of template articles for all of your project needs.
- Word project management templates
- Excel project management templates
- PowerPoint project management templates
- OneNote project management templates
- Meeting agenda templates
- Meeting minutes templates
3. Be Prepared for Change
It would be wonderful if every project went exactly as planned from start to finish. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Tackling project annoyances like scope creep are part of the job. However, other things will likely pop up that are out of your control.
- You may have a team member who cannot complete their tasks due to an illness or emergency. This might require you to move quickly to bring in a new team member to finish the tasks or even take them on yourself, in some cases.
- You may have a short-term system problem that prevents your entire team from completing tasks. This might require you all to work extra hours to make up the time and stay on track.
- You may have a supervisor who requires you to make changes requested by the client in the middle of the project. This will trigger an impact assessment and adjustments to tasks and deadlines.
So get ready to handle change by being flexible and adaptable when issues arise.
4. Know Your Team
Depending on your company and industry, you may have a permanent team or one that is assembled with each new project. Either way, getting to know your team is an important part of managing them for a successful project. But this can be difficult if you are joining a new company or different department.
Listen and Engage
When you are meeting with your project team, pay attention to body language, attitude, and interest from your attendees. Listen to what they have to say, ask questions, and encourage interaction. Be professional, but do not be afraid to throw in your sense of humor a bit to break the ice.
Keeping track of your team members’ tasks and deadlines is part of being a project manager. But making notes about your team members can also help you to know them better.
- Is Bill always on time providing his status updates to you?
- Does Carol have trouble speaking up when she needs help?
- Is Mark bad at meeting his deadlines?
Try jotting down notes during meetings, after one-on-one talks, or while reading emails from team members. This will definitely help with the current as well as future projects with them.
5. Keep Communicating
As a project manager, you expect communication from your team. You want status updates provided and questions or concerns communicated to you. At the same time, you should plan to communicate specific items to your team as their project manager.
Conduct Regularly Meetings
To keep your team on track and on the same page, schedule regular project meetings. The best way to do this is to find the day and time that works best for the team and create a recurring weekly meeting. This lets your team know the routine and prepare accordingly.
Follow Up After Discussions
After each meeting, you should send a follow-up to your team. Your email should include the meeting minutes and action items resulting from the discussion. This is when those terrific templates can come in handy.
Provide Status Updates
As the project manager, you are likely reporting progress to your immediate supervisor and possibly up the chain to the executive team. When changes are required from higher-ups, requests come in from the client, or your team simply receives praise for their work, be sure to share it with them.
Do You Have Project Management Tips to Add?
Project management often is more about managing people than it is about managing documents. Would you agree?
What things have you learned so far in your project management role? Are there interpersonal, professional, or personal skills that you find help you the most in that position? Please share your suggestions and tips with others that are new to this role by commenting below.