How to Manage a Project in 6 Simple Steps
Projects are a key part of any organisation. They help bring in extra revenue, more clients and generate more business. But quite often they can get out of hand – documents get lost, deadlines are missed and there can be a lot of confusion around who’s doing what. Our tips for first-time project managers, and experienced ones, will help you stay on track and achieve those targets with ease. Find out how to manage a project in just six steps below.
What is project management?
Project management is the application of knowledge, tools, skills, deliverables and techniques to tasks and activities to ensure success. The aim of project management is to meet goals and requirements in a smooth and productive manner. Teams are led to meet success criteria in a given time frame, with a challenge to meet all of the project goals within various constraints.
Why is project management important?
We’ve all been a part of it in some way or another, perhaps without even knowing, but why is project management important for your business?
- Efficient project management ensures that deliverables are valuable, on target and fit the brief.
- Introduce leadership and a sense of direction to projects, to ensure deadlines are met and there are clear lines of accountability.
- Set a clear focus and objectives to put a proper plan in place.
Our project management tips will bring you one step closer to missing less, forgetting less, chasing up less and getting more done with clarity.
How to manage a project effectively
1. Kick it off – meet with your team
The first of our project management tips is all about the people. Before you kick off any project, you need to meet with your team and your stakeholders – essentially, anyone who will be affected by your project – because their best interests are going to be at the centre of what you do.
This first meeting should be spent setting out a top-level plan for your project – so what is it you want to achieve at the end of this? Collate a list of all the things you want to achieve. Discuss the criteria as well as budget and a timeline, so that you can ensure you’re all working from the same page to avoid confusion later down the line. Any miscommunication may cost you, so it’s key that you get it right.
2. Plan it out – set your goals and prioritise
The second in our project management tips is planning. Once you have discussed what your stakeholder’s needs are, it’s time to discuss how you achieve them. Start to prioritise the tasks and then use this new list to set goals and aims for your project. You’ll need to define the objectives you wish to accomplish as a result of the project – including any specific metrics or benefits. Use these to develop your project plan and note them down so that everyone in the team has visibility on these priorities.
3. Define your deliverables – what will you do?
What are the specific tasks you are going to complete as part of this project? From anything as little as sending out a questionnaire to creating a detailed proposal, one of the top tips for first-time project managers is to identify the deliverables and the steps that are required. If you have this plan set in stone from the offset, you have a better chance of achieving your goals. Again, add these to your project plan in a clear format.
Off the back of this, set deadlines and due dates for every item in your plan to manage expectations – at this stage, this is a rough estimate of what you think you can achieve before finalising your plan.
4. Create a schedule – who, what, when, where and how?
This is where you can really set your project in stone, with a clear outline and schedule of what you want to achieve and when it needs to be complete. Lay out all of your tasks on a whiteboard (or a virtual alternative!) in order of priority so they’re in clear view. For each one, mark up who will be in charge of that deliverable, what they will need and how long it will take.
Then, you can start to build your project management schedule – focusing on priorities and turnaround times to ensure a smooth journey and to meet that final deadline.
Top tip: some deliverables may depend on others taking place before they can continue, so bear this in mind when setting deadlines and creating your schedule.
5. Keep it on track – identify bottlenecks and risks
You can’t guarantee that your project will be risk free, but you can identify bottlenecks to nip them in the bud as soon as they arise, and mitigate the risk of future issues. For example, does someone in your team have annual leave during the project timeline? Is there a bank holiday in the pipeline that might slow you down? These are all things you can plan for.
When it comes to unexpected roadblocks, you should conduct a risk assessment prior to the start date of your project and develop an approach to unforeseen issues, should they arise. For example, if someone were to call in sick, who would pick up their work? Who’s your first port of call when you’re having trouble getting sign off? Putting a plan in place for these circumstances can help mitigate the risks if they were to arrive.
6. Communicate clearly
The key to learning how to manage a project is knowing how to communicate with your team in the best way possible. Without a proper communication strategy, your project will likely fall apart – particularly if you work remotely. Ultimately, your approach will adapt to your working style. But there are a few tips you can follow to ensure that your team is working together in an efficient and effective manner. Check out our blog on remote team communication strategies to find out what you can to do ensure smooth workflows and collaboration.
Our six steps on how to manage a project are designed to deliver success. Without project management, businesses are at risk of chaos, vague objectives and unrealistic expectations – from going over budget to missing deadlines. And while it might seem like a lot of work, there’s an easy way to approach it. So what are project management tools? And how can project management software benefit your business?
What are project management tools?
It’s fairly simple – project management tools help teams to organise and manage their projects and tasks effectively. They can be customised and tailored to suit the needs of a team, depending on size, end goals and even the industry you’re in.
Project management software from Virtual Cabinet
The Virtual Cabinet project management software, GetBusy, is designed to make managing tasks simple, and team collaboration easier than ever. It provides a clear structure for each task, giving all team members the knowledge they need to complete a job. You can set the task up using the following guidelines:
- What do you need to do?
- Any extra information on the task
- Documents needed
- Participants are tagged
- Clients/project names etc. can also be tagged
With GetBusy, you can also set due dates, send reminders for tasks that are left undone, and put jobs on pause to complete later if other priorities arise.