You’re a respected business professional but your job is starting to feel stale. It’s time to unlock your potential and stand out in the workplace so you can take the next step in your career. Project management could be just what you need to get there.
Project management is a field that’s ever-evolving, making it the perfect opportunity to jump right in. Traditional project management involved email, written reports and in-person meetings, but technology has made it a whole new ballgame. A successful project manager needs to bridge the gap between past and future, according to Noel Radley, project management researcher at Software Advice.
We spoke with several seasoned pros to learn about the best skills and tools for effective project management. These top secret tips will put you ahead of the curve in this transitioning field.
10 tips & tricks for effective project management
1. Write down everything
Project managers are responsible for juggling all of the small details of a project. “It’s easier to sift through notes than to completely forget something,” says Darlene Hayden, project manager at Highway Twenty.
Hayden makes use of old and new technology by using customized Excel spreadsheets and programs like Asana and 10,000ft. These tools track everything from notes and task management to time and resource planning.
2. Gain your team’s support
All of the technology in the world won’t make you an effective project manager if you don’t have your team behind you. Earn your team’s trust by listening to them, especially about risks and obstacles, recommends Marie Phillips, retired Project Management Institute project management professional. You’ll make more informed decisions if you’ve got a firm handle on your team’s abilities.
3. Communicate well
Communication among your team is essential to success. Tools like Skype and other chat software make it easy to stay in touch with your team at all times. Even with these slick tools, some people may still prefer phone calls or face-to-face interaction.
Radley says it’s important to understand how each member of your team prefers to communicate. This will help prevent misunderstandings and will allow you to strategize the best way to introduce your team to new technology.
4. Stay enthusiastic with the right tools
The best way to get your team excited about a project is to show that you’re passionate about it yourself, says Shine Kumar, senior project manager at Zco Corporation. Don’t let your enthusiasm get bogged down by a mess of details. Turn to programs like Harvest to track time and expenses so you can focus on the heart of the project.
5. Get to know keyboard shortcuts
Project managers have a lot on their plates. Cut down on wasted time by learning keyboard shortcuts for your web browser, email and other commonly used programs, suggests Drew Meyer, project manager at SEER Interactive. This trick will gain you hours of saved time in the long run!
6. Choose the right person for the job
“If you assign the wrong person to a task, you’re reducing your chances of success before the project even begins,” warns Juan Velasquez, marketing and project specialist at DoItWiser.com. Use a site like Trello to track, evaluate and delegate tasks to your team. The simple layout and clear-cut visuals make it the perfect tool for effective task management.
7. Use a CRM system
“A good CRM system can help you manage your team as well as clients and projects,” says Joel Fatheree, project manager at EZSolution. A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a project manager’s best friend. Staying organized with a CRM like Insightly will keep you on top of your tasks so no deadlines are missed.
8. Create a readable timeline
The right visuals give you an at-a-glance view of your project’s timeline without requiring you to flip through a calendar. Meyer recommends using Gantt charts to quickly check the progress of a project. Programs like Smartsheet have Gantt charts already built in, saving you the time and hassle of creating your own.
9. Prepare for tech failure
You need to stay in touch with all of the decision makers on your project, even if your email is down or you spill coffee on your laptop. Be prepared for tech mishaps with a system that keeps your info backed up across multiple devices.
Look for a tool like Basecamp to keep you connected in any situation, recommends Shilonda Downing, founder and project manager at Virtual Work Team. Basecamp is user friendly, allows for easy team collaboration and has a mobile app to keep you up-to-date at all times.
10. Write a postmortem report
Effective project managers are constantly looking for ways to improve. Evaluating each project after the fact will help you recognize what went well and what could have been done differently, says Velasquez.
This is the perfect time to evaluate the success levels of the technology and communication tools you used during the project. You can move forward with successful tools as a best practice for future projects.
Now is your time to shine
There’s no time like the present to stand out at work. Taking advantage of these tips and tools will make your boss wonder why you haven’t been promoted yet. It’s just the boost you need to take your career to new heights.
You can master effective project management even more with a business management degree. The knowledge and experience you’ll gain can help you become a well-rounded business professional with limitless career potential!