You’re about to take on a new project management gig. You have business objectives, you have a skilled team, you have enthusiasm. Great, so now you need to execute a fool-proof plan. Here’s where the fun really starts. To kick things off, we’ve prepared some key steps to help you as you embark on your journey.
Ultimately, the project manager is responsible for the smooth running of the project. Before you can achieve your goals, you’ve got to get your head around… well, everything. That means doing your research. You need to know which tasks the team should complete and by when. You need to know who is doing what, why they are doing it and how it impacts the project as a whole. You need to know how to support them and acknowledge their efforts, being sensitive to the pressures of deadlines and the intensity of the workload. The better you understand the project, the better you can lead the team.
Once you’ve done your research, the most important thing to do is make a plan. This goes without saying, but creating and sticking to a realistic a plan can be a challenge. You need clear actions and timescales to ensure you and your team maintain high levels of productivity and efficiency. A well-defined end goal, as well as shorter sprint goals, allow you to create a targeted approach to moving your project forward at reasonable speed. But the best project managers won’t just make a plan and sit back, they will be present throughout the entire journey, instilling energy and enthusiasm in their team as they progress.
Project management is all about structure, but it’s also about flexibility and staying realistic. Some things are out of your control and you have to prepare for a few bumps along the way. Here are some reasons why you might need to embrace flexibility as a project manager:
- Early user experience testing has revealed you need to make some changes to the usability or user interface for your product or service
- Some monumental bugs or fundamental issues have revealed themselves and the whole team needs to work on resolving them ASAP
- Regulatory changes mean you need to re-evaluate something in your plan
- Productivity is interrupted by some personal or family issues for you or a member of your team that are beyond control
- Your roadmap was a little over-enthusiastic (after all, what entrepreneur doesn’t have big dreams?)
This is where the digital revolution makes your life a whole lot easier. Resources such as ebooks, online articles and blogs are readily available to help you through any problems you face when you’re beginning your journey as a project manager. Better yet, there are so many ways to plan, strategise, collaborate and communicate online. For example, Mind Doodle is an online mind map for teams that has file space, real-time communication with live chat, and a project management extension tool that’s being released soon. Digital tools like ours are free, with the opportunity to upgrade to a premium account if you want more data or support. Sign up to try out Mind Doodle here.
So once you have done your research, have the appropriate digital resources in place and have created a realistic plan with a little room for flexibility, you’re almost ready to go, but don’t forget to ask your team to review your plan and provide feedback. The likelihood is that they will be able to offer some tips and use their experience to help you refine and improve the plan before you kick things off.
Does your project relate to design? Check out our tips for creating a design brief here.