4 Easy Steps To Master Project Management

Managing a project is not an easy journey.

There are several roads you can take to nailing project management, and of course the same path won’t work for everyone. Yet something that will make any PM’s journey easier, is following a few tried and tested tips.

We’ve done the research (so you don’t have to) and compiled the ultimate list. Your road to project management mastery starts here!

Define A Clear Vision

What do the world’s most successful companies like Google and Amazon all have in common?

Their teams operate through clear vision statements. Every employee knows exactly where their project is going, and everyone’s on board with what they strive to create. Set aside time at the start of your project to define a vision statement. This will inspire employees, give direction, and ensure everyone understands the big picture.

At the end of the day, a project manager is a torchbearer. She is the person who carries the company’s vision into all aspects of the project. She shapes employees’ perceptions of their jobs, their motivation, and their engagement.

What are some key components of an effective project management vision?

Project Management Vision To Do:

  • Define The End-Goal: Your project’s vision should answers the question: “Where is the project going?”. It should describe the outcome, the intent, and the change it will create.
  • Make It Stick: The vision should be inspiring, memorable, clear, and simple. In addition, it must be ambitious and mention actions and behaviors that will bring it to life. This will help employees transfer the concept into practice. Using inclusive language such as “we”, “our”, and “us”, is also recommended.
  • Share It: Extend the vision through all levels of the organization. Communicate it through multiple channels. Why is it so important that all employees (and not just the managers) understand how their work ties into the vision? Employees who understand their job’s impact the project find their work more meaningful. This means that even the most routine jobs will be more intrinsically motivating. Intrinsic motivation is the key to unlocking productivity in every team member. Stimulate further ownership of the vision by involving your team in creating it. Don’t write it yourself and sell it to them. 😉

Develop A Project Management Strategy

While vision is the destination, strategy is the GPS.

It’s no secret that the road to a goal is no straight line in easy traffic. Rather, it’s a journey filled with detours, roadblocks, and accidents. Adapting to changes and figuring out new ways to reach your destination, are unavoidable parts of the ride.

When the road gets bumpy, its crucial that you’ve already built a clear strategy to fall back on. This will guide your efforts and maintain your focus, resulting in a project that keeps moving forward despite pitfalls.

So what should you keep in mind when building a great project management strategy?

Project Management Strategy To Do:

  • Set milestones: Creating a timeline of concrete mini-goals and milestones will allow you to determine if the project is on track. Check in on late milestones early to get a chance to find issues and pinpoint what to change.  
  • Measure: Measure and track your progress on your short term goals to help understand your project’s long-term health. See how your project is progressing in comparison with other projects and organizations. Look for ways to compare your project against successful ones in the past–and unsuccessful ones. A few things to measure include:
    • Budget, scope, and schedule metrics such as delivery time
    • Customer satisfaction and feedback
    • Feedback from project owners
    • Feedback from stakeholders
  • Prepare For Bumps: Have a clear plan to deal with potential setbacks and delays. “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.” You won’t predict everything that goes wrong when your project starts, but having a solid plan means problems can be dealt with quickly. Nip them in the bud before they have time to leave any long-term damage.
  • Reflect: There’s always something to learn from what went right and what was an epic fail. How else will you perform better on the next project? Be sure to include the entire team in this step and listen to everyone’s perspectives.

Set Your Priorities

If vision is the what and strategy the how, then prioritization is the when.

Understanding which activities create the most output and where to invest your time and skill is the ultimate win. As a PM, it can be tempting to handle every nook and cranny of your project, but that is usually a mistake. Sometimes the most productive thing to do is simply to delegate or say no to certain tasks.

Project Management Prioritization To Do:

  • Productivity Purge: Separate your obligations into categories, followed by identifying which have the greatest return and which you can delay. The strategy clarifies which tasks to focus on immediately, which ones to plan for, and which ones to set aside.
  • Eisenhower Matrix: Decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. Sort out which tasks you should delegate or avoid entirely.
  • Decision Matrix: Created by Fizzle, the matrix helps you make informed decisions through a point-based system. It takes into account factors such as how long a task will take, how significant its impact will be, and if it’s likely to be completed.
  • Ruthless Prioritization Matrix: Developer by Brandon Chu of Shopify, this helps you prioritize between several projects or within a single project. Win – Win!

Improve Communication

Excellent communication is essential in project management. As a PM, some of your key duties will be to improve performance, build trust, boost efficiency, and ensure that issues are solved promptly. The easiest way to do this is to improve communication within your team.

Project Management Communication To Do:

  • Clarify Expectations: Doing this at the start of the project with every member of your team will help engagement. Go over performance standards and deliverables, and discuss how you will assess performance. It’s best to involve employees in setting their own objectives and ask their opinions on which objectives are doable.
  • Give Feedback: Give regular positive and negative feedback. This ensures employees know what to keep doing and what to do differently. Many managers are quick to give negative feedback, yet forget to give positive feedback. That will eventually kill your team’s performance. If you want your employees to go beyond satisfying minimal requirements, show them hard work won’t go unnoticed.
  • Encourage & Reinforce Transparency: Transparency’s benefits go beyond minimizing politics and maximizing accountability. Encourage your team to share mistakes, voice concerns, ask for clarification, and express opinions. One of your employees might come up with a better way of handing something or pinpoint a problem you didn’t notice.  You won’t want to miss that valuable information! A great way to boost accountability: publicly post a list of daily to-do’s like Unito does. Reinforce team transparency by praising instances where team members tell a hard truth. A simple, “Thanks for sharing”, or “I appreciate you telling me” can do the trick.
  • Make Status Meetings Routine: This point goes hand in hand with transparency. Keep everyone in the loop on the project’s ups and downs by enlisting everyone to share progress and roadblocks regularly. Be it daily, weekly, or monthly, make scrums and stand-ups (as well as sharing status reports) a routine.

Your road as a PM will hit bumps. You will hit pitfalls and challenges scattered along the way. However, with a clear vision, effective strategy, established priorities, and excellent communication, the journey can be easier than it looks from here. From everyone here at Unito, we wish you an awesome ride.

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