Project managers are an integral part of any company that values client relationships, smooth information flow, and successful communication. They are both mediators and propellers, at the same time pushing and easing the work process between all project participants. Balancing between the project requirements, client, and team is not always an easy task. Project management tips will help you plan and execute the project well, lead the team and ensure the client's success. While all projects are unique and might require a different approach, applying these tips will create the solid ground for successful management.
Project management tips and tricks
There are multiple project management tips and tricks you can integrate into your working process. Sometimes the information and do's and don'ts of the project manager can get overwhelming. But ultimately, being a good PM means three things:
- Being able to plan and execute the project well, stay in the scope and timeline of the project, and deliver valuable software to the client.
- Having the means to utilize team members for maximum efficiency, leading the team, and keeping them motivated; At the same time, giving them the ability to grow and balance the workload.
- Having the skills to communicate and collaborate with the client well.
These are the areas we will focus on in this article. It does not matter if you are a beginner or a well-rounded project manager with years of experience, these tips will help you deal with the most complex projects with ease.
Given that you have the technical knowledge of a PM, mastering these skills and abilities will help you be not just good but a great project manager.
Project planning tips
The first and one of the most crucial abilities of a good project manager is project planning. It involves understanding the needs and goals of the client, correctly assessing the resources needed for development, estimating delivery time, and more. A good project manager should be able to plan the project with the end-goal in their mind, identify and mitigate the risks and utilize proper tools and integrate best practices and project planning tips in the process.
Define end goal
Starting a new project can be overwhelming, especially if the project is complex. Sometimes, all the project specifications are well defined and there is little space for any changes, but every so often you have to work on less clear projects. In such cases, specifications change, and priorities are reconsidered.
Whether it's a small, clearly defined project or a complex one, a good project manager should keep the end goal on top of the mind. Envisioning the endpoint and focusing on it will help you stay on track and remain true to your goals. It will help you keep the vision and stay focused on delivering a high value. When you focus on the endpoint, it is easier to apply changes and keep the team motivated around the same vision.
leverage proper project management tools
There are multiple project management tips and tools that can help you manage the processes better. Project management tools make the work of PMs much easier. There are tools for effective communication, collaboration, task management, file sharing, storing critical information, and more. Many of them uniting everything a project manager might need.
For the inexperienced PMs leveraging tools can be yet another challenge, however, once you get familiar with them, you won't go back.
It might sound pessimistic, but things will go wrong. What makes a good project manager stand out from others, is the ability to identify risks at an early stage and mitigate them. While the ability to see the risks before they arise often comes with experience, it is a skill that can be learned as well. Learn risk management - it is one of the top tips for managing complex projects.
Team management tips
A big part of the project manager's work is leading and managing team members. If you are working in a big company with huge development resources, you will have to work with different teams on various projects. It requires a lot of interpersonal and soft skills as well as mastering management techniques.
As a good project manager, you need to be a good team player as well. You should be accessible for your team members, have an effective communication style, distribute tasks well, and lead your team to success. Your management style and skills can determine the outcome of your project. It is why a lot of software project management tips are around team management, communication, and leadership.
Be a team player
Teamwork and cooperation are all the business is about. Regardless of the scale, big or small, working together to achieve a goal is the only certain way for success. A good project manager is not only a leader but a team player too. He or she should be involved in the project and at the same time, should understand that each member of the team is valuable.
To be a good team player, one needs to communicate well, listen and understand all points of view, be as objective as possible, and look for different ways to satisfy the requirements of all participants. Without real teamwork, any project is doomed to fail.
Utilize your team members
High-performing managers have great soft skills accompanied by knowledge and experience. It gives them the ability to work with different kinds of people and manage them well. Your team members will be different from each other, they will have different skill-sets, working pace, and style. A good project manager can bring out high performance from all members. Knowing their weak points and strength is vital. It will help you distribute tasks in a way to achieve maximum efficiency. One of the crucial project management skills is the ability to utilize all team members.
Be a leader to your team, not just a manager
The best project management advice would be to be the leader, not just a manager. A Manager aims to use the resources and delegates tasks to deliver the project on time. But a good project manager is a leader too. Being a leader means being considerate, leading by example, constantly communicating with the team, and giving them a sense of ownership. A manager manages (and often, micromanages), but a leader trusts the team. It creates a healthy work environment for the team. As a result, members are not merely completing tasks but are motivated to deliver higher value.
Tips for working with clients
Another important area of project management is communication and collaboration with the client. As a good project manager, you need to find the right balance between the client and the company. Clients come with different backgrounds and understanding of software development. Some of them might have more knowledge of the field, some less. They have different personalities, working and communication styles too. It takes a great virtue to find a way for successful collaboration with all customers. Since the PM is a middleman between the team and a client, this virtue is much needed. Here are the top 3 tips for successful project management that will help you work with clients better.
Set the right expectations
At the beginning of the project, you might be excited and optimistic, but you should always stay on the ground and set the right expectations with the client. Use your planning and risk management skills to correctly estimate the costs and time for the delivery of the project, envision the outcome, and do not try to win the client's heart by promising something you cannot deliver. It is always better to deliver more value rather than leave the client dissatisfied. Setting the right expectations will remove extra tension from the team, allow you to have sincere communication with the client, and build your relationship on mutual trust.
Be firm but stay flexible
One of the hardest parts of project management is finding a balance between the client's success and the company's interests. Sometimes, during the development, the client understands that they need to change some requirements, add or remove features. It can turn your plan upside down and put the success of your project at risk.
Depending on the project scope and nature, some of them might be more open to changes and some less. In any case, changes in scope will affect the development as well. As a good project manager, you need to evaluate the effect of those changes and communicate how they will affect the process, development time, or cost. Based on your evaluation you should stay flexible to reprioritize tasks and make changes if it won't' affect the development negatively. But if you see that changes can hinder the process and it is better to make them after the first release, you should stay firm. Otherwise, there might be so many change requests that the software will never see daylight.
Keep the communication going
In some projects, the client involvement might be minimal, in some - you will constantly collaborate with the client. In any case, A good project manager should keep the communication going. Even if your project does not require a huge involvement from the client, you need to continuously manage expectations and keep the client updated.
These software project management tips will help you be a better project manager. Before you deep dive into the project, envision the end goal, detect and mitigate the risks and plan carefully. Be a leader to your team, utilize members' skills and be a team player. When working with the client be firm, yet stay flexible, under-promise but over-deliver, and keep the communication flowing.