There are many challenges to keeping a project on track and within budget. By taking a few precautions and by having a specific plan in place, you can lead your project to guaranteed success. Here are 6 tips and tricks to help ensure your project goes as planned:
1) Communicate, communicate, communicate
Always ensure that the lines of communication are open. As the project manager, it’s your job to be the operator of the communications system. Make a plan and stick with it. Keep everyone informed by creating status reports based on a project’s information and updates. Good project managers will document everything. If it can be documented it should be documented. Any information is pertinent to the team—even the comment from the CEO about how he strongly dislikes the color you’ve decided to use—is important. Relay any and all information to the team, you never know what might become an issue later.
2) Be the leader
You are the captain of the ship. You should act like it. You need to inspire your team, you need to encourage them, and you need to carry on during the tough trials that you will face. If you don’t have good leadership skills, you may not be able to prevail over challenges that face your project. Address your strengths and weaknesses—because they will be tested.
3) Set and manage the expectations
The expectations of your project should be set by a descriptive, well-written scope of work. All team members should use and refer to this document to set the stage for what will be ultimately delivered on each project. As project manager, you should sit down with your client and review the project timeline. It’s imperative to have these types of conversations with your client—you need to keep them informed of the process for the duration of the project.
Between each deadline, set up a meeting with the client about the upcoming document delivery. Receive their constructive feedback about the document—it’ll make the final deliverable a lot stronger. It’s critical to educate your clients on the process of making a website. If you keep the client informed and involved, you’re guaranteed to build a product that pleases your client and engages your users.
4) Know who to involve and when to involve them
It’s impossible to keep everyone in the project informed of everything—and that’s a good thing because you don’t necessarily need to. It’s good to know when to involve the team to help a conversation or an idea, but you don’t need to do it for everything. A project developer should never answer design or development specific questions unless it was previously documented. Know what the client is asking: Is the question design or development specific? Is it a question regarding content? Pull the appropriate people for each question—but you don’t need to have a meeting every time the client calls with an idea.
5) Find an ally and manage stakeholders
A good project manager will find a friend on the client-side. He or she should try to do their best to build a relationship with that person. A strong relationship can help the project manager learn the politics of the company and how it’ll affect the project’s process. Having an ally can help you gain guidance: a simple, short conversation where you ask, “Who do I need to approve X project?” can give you valuable insight.
As project manager, it’s your job to predict the potential factors that could make the project go over deadline or over budget. If you know and manage your stakeholders, it becomes a lot easier for you to have blunt conversations about why and when a project might go off track.
No project manager wants to be the bad guy. But as a manager, it’s part of your role. Set everything up in your favor so you can be in control about the risks—at least most of the time.
6) Encourage your team
Simple, encouraging sentences like, “Wow, you did a really good job!” can really go along way. A great project manager is one who enforces the rules, keeps everyone in-sync, and supports and encourages the process, the team, and the client.