Chances of success and failure are always equal in the world of managing projects. With so many things that can go sideways, it is up to project managers to keep all the tasks under close supervision. They have to be on top of their game at all times, ability to work under pressure and extraordinary capability to adapt to changing requests of their clients. Truthfully, it can get rather overwhelming, but the knowledge of essential techniques for better project management can help you overcome any obstacle your project is facing.
This article will describe them in detail, and it might provide you some insights on why some of the stages of your project development are hitting a wall and facing delays. Without proper techniques, project management will surely result in project failure.
So, let’s see what are the ones who will prevent that from happening.
Having a proactive approach is crucial to the essential techniques for better project management
There’s much more to project management than simply delegating tasks and monitoring their progress. Each project comes with authentic characteristics, issues, and requirements. As such, each presents a unique field of new learning possibilities.
While the basic theoretical knowledge is a necessary base for being a good project manager, upgrading it with experience is equally important. Learning from past projects is one of the essential techniques.
An experienced and highly skilled project manager will take risks and try different strategies, but also eliminate the ones that don’t work. Making the same mistake twice and hoping for a different outcome is futile in all life aspects. In project management, it can bring devastating results for the project completion.
For someone who is starting a career in this field, having a proactive approach is crucial. The “green” project managers won’t have personal experience to learn from. But being proactive and asking advice from an experienced mentor or looking for answers in books or online is always a good direction. The one that can help a beginner to expand its comprehension about the necessary steps for achieving the project goals.
Here are some factors that can lead to project failure. The ones you can avoid by implementing a proactive approach in your project planning.
- Loss and delay in deliverables due to insufficient manpower or inappropriate team managing skills
- Poor communication, bad work planning, and improper risk management
- Rushing to start the project on the assumption that you can deliver it earlier which can result in errors, rework and omissions.
- Failing to recognize the point of time when the project is unrecoverable
- Not using a proper development methodology for the project development
Choosing the right project’s strategy and planning the project’s implementation
The most important stage for all projects is planning their realization. This planning stage requires special attention to all details, thinking ahead and determining the right strategies which will be implemented.
Good planning is one of the most important techniques for better project management. How are you going to start the project and what strategy you will use to navigate it will determine the final results.
Planning can make or break the project process, and it’s up to you as the project manager to make a bulletproof plan. That said, the obstacles beyond your power can come up in any other stage of project realization. By making the plan that isn’t rigid and has room for flexibility and adaptability, will make the project realization much smoother and the end goal more successful.
WBS is one of the best techniques for better project management
WBS stands for “work breakdown structure”. It is a way of organizing workload into smaller, more manageable pieces.
When you first face them, the projects can feel overwhelming at first sight. Even the small ones, since there will be many tasks necessary for achieving the final goal.
After you break them down into pieces and create milestones for each stage, the whole project process will be more organized and easier to keep track on.
The best way is to make it a graphic representation. There are many templates you can download online for WBS, but they all have the same layout.
At the very top will be a box with the final project goal with the lines connecting the boxes with the bigger tasks which lead to the project completion. Each of them will then be attached to the smaller tasks which leads to bigger task completion and so on.
Of course, the project progress will start at the very bottom where the simplest tasks lay, and continue to bigger ones, all the way towards the final goal.
Good business planning is one of the most important techniques for better project management. How are you going to start the project and what strategy you will use to navigate it will determine the final results.
Divide and conquer the tasks
When you have this form of task map for the project which is visually defining the scope of the project into smaller parts, you need to identify the major deliverables and then subdivide them into smaller and smaller sub-deliverables. This process continues until you reach a point where the task can be accomplished in a certain deadline.
After that, it is time to delegate tasks to team members and monitor their progress closely.
Avoiding unrealistic expectations is also one of the important techniques for better project management
Making unrealistic expectations is a slippery slope, and poor time management will lead your project to a certain failure. Setting time frames that are almost impossible to reach with the clients, team members, or the customers will condemn the project for doom at its very start.
Especially if the project includes a lot of work power and several teams. It is logical to think that more people will finish work faster. Usually, it will be the case, but only under the leadership of project manager with years of experience. Even such experts will never make hard-to-reach project deadlines because it is simply contra-productive.
You will be under the pressure, the team will be under stress to meet the goals, and the clients will pressure you additionally to complete the project in the deadline you have set. Not to mention that a short deadline doesn’t leave room for any changes which are almost always inevitable.
A good project manager has to include all the possible variables and capacity of every team member when setting a deadline for a certain project.
The great strategies are to set the project deadlines within or slightly beyond realistic expectations. For example, if you know that the final goal can be reached in a month, set a time frame for project completion for a month and a half.
This tactic will give you the flexibility to address any issues that may come your way. If you manage to complete the project before the set deadline, even better. In any case, stretching a deadline a little bit is a win-win situation.
Tracking project’s progress
After your project starts to roiling, you will have to monitor its progress like a hawk. Leaving it unattended and not checking in regularly will leave straight to the abyss of failure.
You always have to be aware of the two things when you’re tracking your projects:
- Where your project should be according to plan
- Where your project actually is at a certain time
Ideally, the answer to the second question will correspond to the first one. By comparing them, you will have the comprehension of the milestone’s completion. Also, you will clearly see is your team meeting the deadlines, how their tasks progressing and do the project plan need some tweaking or shifting.
The three basic pillars for keeping track of your project progress are schedule, scope, and the cost incurred. As the factors that control any project, these will have a crucial role to overcome project success.
All the project management techniques mentioned above set course and the procedures to measure the progress of a project. These are the different ways which will lead to the successful completion of the project’s final goal.
You can implement some of them in your management process, but all of them combined together will make chances for successful project execution much higher. Especially when you add some project management tools into the mix.
Anyways, the most important is to plan, execute, and action well. By bettering the project planning by using proper techniques and control methods, you are creating the conditions to meet your project goals in set deadlines.
Staying on top of every tasks, closely monitoring their progress, having open communication with team members, perfecting your process and learning from the failures are the solid grounds for any project manager to excel. Try to implement some or all of these essential techniques for better project management and you will see a positive change in the overall progress of your projects.