Are you leveling up your project management skills for 2023? Look no further — here are plenty of resources to share! From planning, to reporting on outcomes, to the best digital collaboration tools, here’s a collection of the most important project management tools and techniques for 2023. Whether you’re a brand-new project manager or a seasoned vet, you’ll go into 2023 informed, prepared, and ready to be your best professional self.
Trust the process
Whether you’re managing a music festival, a product drop, or a trip to Mars, most projects move through the same basic stages. These five steps, also known as the project life cycle, carry a project from initiation right through to completion.
Even if your project doesn’t follow this process exactly, you should still get familiar with it. You’ll feel more prepared, and have a better sense of what to expect. Then, you can adjust these steps as you see fit. After all, you’ve gotta know the rules to break them!
- Monitoring and controlling
- Completion and review
To go deeper, check out our articles about the project life cycle and the 5-step project management process that sets you up for success.
Start with scope
The best project management tools and the most advanced techniques won’t do you much good if your project falls prey to scope creep.
It might be tempting to dive into your project headfirst. But that’s like jumping off the diving board without checking out what’s below you.
Before execution, start by defining your project’s scope. That means figuring out what you actually want to accomplish, what it’ll take to get there, and sharing that information with everyone involved.
Defining scope is a crucial part of project planning and initiation. It helps you avoid dreaded scope creep, setting the stage for clearer communication and more efficient work. It also helps you create smoother relationships with stakeholders because everyone knows what to expect.
Defining project scope boils down to these 6 steps.
- Define project needs and requirements
- Confirm project goals and objectives
- Plan a shared workflow to get you there
- Agree on deliverables and deadlines
- Forecast possible issues and blockers
- Anticipate possible changes
Learn more about project scope in this blog post.
Create a proposal
Once you know what your goals are — and what it’ll take to accomplish them — write it all down in a project proposal.
Some projects will require a proposal to get started. But even if you’re working on a small or individual project, a proposal can help you get clear on your plans.
The main types of project proposals are:
- Solicited proposals: Formal documents made in response to a request for proposals (RFP)
- Unsolicited proposals: Sent to a potential collaborator you have no prior relationship with
- Informal proposals: For small projects, or ones handled by an existing team
- Supplemental, renewal, or continuation proposals: For projects that are already underway
Whatever the type of proposal, make sure it includes:
- A full project description
- Important background information
- Scope, timeline, and budget
- Key outcomes and how you’ll measure them
Need more information? Get the lowdown on project proposals in this article.
Anticipate project dependencies
Dependencies are a key concept that can complicate your project management. Basically, dependencies occur when one task or component of the project needs to be completed for something else to move forward.
Planning ahead is key to managing dependencies. Here are our top tips:
- During the planning phase, anticipate possible dependencies and discuss them with your team and stakeholders.
- Use retrospectives to stay on top of dependencies and debrief on how they’ve affected work.
- Choose project management tools, like Asana and Trello, that offer dependency tracking.
There are many different kinds of dependencies. Learn more in this detailed article.
Embrace project reports
Every project involves collaboration, even if you’re a freelancer or solopreneur.
At some point, you’ll need to share information about your project with other people. Project reports let you do that in a clear, accessible way.
Here are six essential project reports to know:
- Status report: Update on how your project is going
- Health report: Update on whether the project is going well and staying on track
- Team availability report: Communicate each collaborator’s workload
- Risk report: Share potential blockers and ways to mitigate them
- Variance report: Update on how much the project has diverged from plans and milestones
- Time tracking report: Report how time is being spent on various project components
Find a detailed breakdown of each type of report in this recent article.
Know your methodologies
There are many different ways to manage a project. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses — there’s really no one methodology to rule them all.
Here are the 5 most popular project management methodologies, and which use cases they are best suited for.
- Organize tasks into separate columns, so you can visually watch your project move forward.
- Best for simple to moderately complex projects.
- A highly structured methodology that divides work into sprints, overseen by a Scrum master.
- Best for iterative development projects, especially on smaller teams.
- More of an overall framework that other methodologies like Kanban and Scrum can fit into.
- Best for complex projects that change and evolve constantly.
- An older method that moves the project through predetermined phases in a set order.
- Best for repeatable projects or those with hard deadlines.
- A customer-centric methodology that’s all about working more efficiently and reducing waste. Often used as part of Agile management.
- Best for smaller teams, especially at startups, and short-term projects.
Learn more about these frameworks in our guide to the 5 most-used project management methodologies.
Know your collaboration tools
At the top of your list of project management tools and techniques should be this most indispensable part of a project manager’s arsenal: the collaboration tool.
They’re especially essential for remote teams — think of them as a virtual meeting room, filing cabinet, and even water cooler all in one. But in-person teams will also find collaboration tools great for saving time, staying in touch, and getting organized.
Here are 5 of the best collaboration tools and what they’re best suited for.
- Trello: Kanban-centric tool, best for ease of use and getting started.
- Teamwork: Best for collaborating with external partners and stakeholders.
- Basecamp: To-do list-centric tool with accessible pricing.
- Airtable: Create your own custom solution, no coding required.
- Clickup: Best advanced, all-in-one solution.
As a project manager, you equip other people to do their best work, whether they’re writers or doctors, customer support reps, or engineers.
By providing people with support, information, and inspiration, you can help create a final project that’s so much more than the sum of its parts.
That’s pretty special — and there’s nothing more rewarding than watching a project you’ve managed come together. These tips will help you launch projects that surpass expectations and accomplish amazing things.