Regardless of the type of business you’re running or the industry you’re operating in, the core goals of project management remain the same. You’re still talking about the successful development of the initiation, planning, execution, and closure of a project.
The decisions you make in the early stages of project management can easily mean the difference between success and failure in terms of everything you’re trying to accomplish. During the beginning of a project, you’re setting goals and agreeing on critical factors like scope, time, quality, and budget.
Keeping everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction is of paramount importance. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done.
Project management can be difficult in general, to say nothing of how hard things become when more people are working remotely. But it is still possible to use these early moments in a project’s development life cycle to set the foundation upon which everything else will be built. You just need to keep a few key things in mind while you do it.
The Art of Project Management: Breaking Things Down
The most important step you can take in terms of successful project management in the modern era involves making sure you have the right tools by your side at the beginning of the process.
The types of project tools you embrace need to give you access to a few core features, regardless of which software you choose. For the absolute best results, your tools should:
- Allow your users to create and store data in the cloud. People should be able to be just as productive in their own home as they would be in an office. Any tool you select needs to allow them to accomplish that.
- Your tools should give real-time reports to project managers for the status of all projects, regardless of how many are in progress simultaneously. This is the best way to make sure everyone is keeping up with their duties. It also gives project managers a chance to stop a small problem when it’s happening before it has a chance to become a much bigger one down the road.
- Your tools should also streamline workflows in a way that project managers can see how everyone on the team is performing. They should also provide invaluable metrics so that you can see how projects are moving along. This level of insight can help make sure that if any adjustments are needed, they can be executed immediately so you don’t need to worry about missing your estimated completion date.
The cloud is particularly important in terms of creative project management software, as many people on your team will essentially be drawing from the same resources at the same time. By embracing a tool that acts as a centralized location for all project-related tasks, files and documents, you’re doing your part to help boost productivity as much as possible.
Another key factor that you’ll want to keep in mind ultimately comes down to the type of support documentation that you’re creating along the way. For the sake of example, let’s say your current project involves getting an upcoming product ready for launch. You and your team have worked tirelessly on getting this right. Now, you’re just a few short weeks away from releasing it.
Don’t wait until the end of the project to start thinking about the types of support documentation that your users will need to get the most out of their purchase. These materials shouldn’t be an afterthought, they should be a natural part of the project management and development process from as early as possible.
All of this is to say that you should use a pie chart maker to create those visual “help” documents that people are going to need while you’re still going through the project, not after it’s finished. This will allow you to proactively answer questions and address potential concerns while they’re still fresh in your mind – thus leading to more accurate information that people can actually use.
Likewise, you should be researching the types of topics that your audience actually cares about. If you do this while the project is still in the development stage, it can actually clue you in on certain features and other benefits to embrace that will act as your value differentiator in the market at large.
Think about it like this. Let’s say you and your team work on your upcoming product and it’s totally finished. Then you do some topic research and find out many of your potential customers have the same core problem that they’re trying to solve. You could easily include a feature that helps them meet that challenge. Or you could have, if you’d have learned this information while you were still in development.
If you were conducting this level of research while things were still fluid, you would have been in a better position to pivot and capitalize on an opportunity instead of allowing it to pass you by.
This is why it’s important to think of these things as a critical element of what you’re doing, not as an afterthought. You never know where inspiration is going to come from. And no matter what, you need to be in a position to listen to it and adapt to it whenever possible. This is the part of project management that far too many people don’t pay enough attention to until it’s too late.
Finally, one of the most important elements of successful project management involves keeping scope creep in check whenever you can. Every project has constraints, regardless of how many people are working with you or how large your budget is.
But if your scope begins to shift in the wrong direction, things will slowly begin to fall apart before you know it. If things change too drastically, you could be dealing with budget overruns and you could easily lose buy-in from the stakeholders you’re going to need when everything is said and done.
You must make it a priority to manage scope creep in a proactive way. Don’t think about it at the end of each month or at the end of the week. Keep it in the back of your mind every day and don’t be afraid to confront it when necessary.
If you’re able to keep all of these things in mind during the project management process, there’s truly no limit to what you and your colleagues will be able to accomplish.
How Should Leaders Work on Project Management?
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