A lot of project managers fall into the role. They have been working for a company for several years, and they find themselves in charge of projects. No matter whether this applies to you or not, here are some useful tips that can help you.
Non-technical skills you need to have
There is a lot more to being an effective project manager than meets the eye. This is why there are many project management courses available for those who are looking to get to grips with the role. If this sounds familiar, then this article is just for you. Read on to discover more about some of the technical skills you are going to need to be a successful project manager.
- Flexibility – The first skill you are going to need is flexibility. This is because projects are likely to change a lot. A successful project manager is someone who knows how to adapt to such a situation effectively. Not only this but if you remain calm under pressure, then it is going to make your team feel calm as well.
- Anticipate issues – Another skill you need to have is the ability to anticipate problems before they arise. Of course, there are going to be times when something takes you by surprise. Nevertheless, generally speaking, you do need to be fully aware of what your team is going to be taking on next, what your client needs, and what could go wrong.
- Delegates – This is one of the most important parts of project management. You should never try to take on everything yourself, which a lot of PM managers are guilty of doing. Instead, you need to recognize that managing the project alone is a full-time job, thus you should look for other individuals to fill the roles required to complete the project.
- Communicate effectively – You are going to struggle to be an effective project manager if you do not know how to communicate effectively. This does not only relate to communicating with your team, but also any stakeholders or anyone else that is invested in the project. You need to know the language to use in the workplace, and you need to find ways to keep employees motivated, especially during a project that is long and complex.
- Proactive – In addition to all the points that have already been mentioned above, being proactive is essential. You cannot organize and lead teams if you are not proactive, even though this is a word that is used a great deal in performance reviews and management books. Nonetheless, you should never wait for status updates, budget breakdowns, and schedules. You need to use your initiative, and this will give your team the platform to flourish.
- Organized – Project managers also need to be organized, which is something a lot of people struggle with. However, organization is essential, as there are many moving parts in projects. Successful project managers need to have the ability to ensure rouses remain accountable while also keeping track of milestones, decisions, issues, and tasks. You can use tools like an easy employee time clock to assist with this to make sure that everything is on track.
- Listen – On a final note, do not forget to listen! While it may seem important to you to delegate straight away, you will learn a lot more if you simply take the time to listen. This relates to both your team and your clients.
Putting together a scope statement
As a project manager, you have a million different tasks to complete before the project even gets up and running. One of the most important tasks to do at the beginning of the process is to put together a scope statement. A scope statement is something taught in a lot of project management courses. However, before you embark on your project management training, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what a scope statement is and what it involves. Read on to discover everything you need to know.
What is a scope statement? This is a written document that details the terms and conditions under which the work for the project is going to be performed, as well as the results you will produce by undertaking the project. Before any of the project work begins, it is important that the project team and the people who requested the project agree with everything that is written on the scope statement – highlighting why this is such a vital document.
What needs to be included in the scope statement?
- Objectives – Of course, the objectives of the project need to be clearly outlined. These are also referred to as deliverables. This relates to the services, products, or results you are going to produce as a consequence of the project.
- Justification – How did this project come about? Why are you embarking on this project? You need to address the scope of work that is going to be performed, and how other related activities will affect it, and how it will affect them.
- Constraints – What restrictions are there? Common examples include cost and time. State anything that could get in the way of what you aim to achieve.
- Assumptions – You need to include assumptions on how you are going to address certain details that are uncertain.
- Product scope description – The functions and features of the service, product, or results you will produce.
- Product acceptance criteria – The criteria and procedure for accepted completed results, products, or services.
Hopefully, that gives you a good idea of the different factors that need to be covered in the scope statement. Not only do you need to include the above, but you also need to put some form of a pledge – a statement of your commitment to the project. After all, the scope statement works as a binding agreement. Examples of what to include in this respect are as follows:
- Those who have requested the project must agree that they will deem the project to be 100 per cent successful if you produce the results outlined above.
- You must also state that you and your team are completely committed to producing the said results.
- The project requesters must accept that there are no other restrictions, aside the ones declared, and they must promise to provide the support you have stated you need.
- You and your team also need to confirm that the only restrictions are the ones stated, and outline what you need to overcome them.
- Project requesters must agree that you may have to modify some project plans at any point if the assumptions made do not turn out to be so.
- Finally, you need to confirm that you identify all the assumptions you made.
Managing outsourced talent during a project
Many projects require outsourcing creative talent. This can often be the most cost-effective and logical approach, especially for small businesses. However, working with a freelancer offers a unique set of challenges for any project manager. You need to ensure clear communication throughout and certain measures will need to be taken if the relationship between you and the outsourced talent is to thrive. Below, we will provide you with some top tips to help you get started.
Don’t dive straight into the hiring process – One of the biggest mistakes project managers make is looking for a freelancer and attempting to hire one as quickly as possible. While the need may be urgent, it is more important to make sure you find the right person for you. There is nothing worse than ending up with a freelancer that holds up the project or does not deliver work to the standard you require. Use your network effectively, and make sure you conduct an interview that will give you all the information you need to determine whether this person is right for you.
Don’t overlook the importance of scheduling – Scheduling can be difficult. A lot of freelancers end up in this role because they like to be their own boss and they do not like the corporate workplace structure. Therefore, it is even more important to schedule effectively. You need to negotiate deadlines, and you need to stick to them. That also relates to you and anything you need to provide the freelancer with. If they miss a deadline, make sure you are firm.
Provide feedback – A lot of project managers do not provide freelancers with feedback, as they deem it unnecessary. After all, this individual is unlikely to contribute to the firm much in the future, so why give them a helping hand? Well, it is your job to communicate positive and negative feedback as a project manager, and this is the only way to ensure an effective relationship.
Communicate effectively – You will already know the importance of communicating effectively, whether it is with your team members or stakeholders. Clear communication channels are even more important when working with a freelancer. It is likely that most of the communication will take place over email. However, setting up calls or video chats on a weekly or monthly basis is also important. A sense of alienation can easily arise if you only communicate via email. The freelancer will be more likely to make the effort to meet your requirements if you maintain a human connection with them.
Don’t treat them as a freelancer – What we mean by this is that you should treat the person as an employee, as opposed to a freelancer. It is important for the freelancer to feel just as included for the duration of the project. It is not difficult to do this. Simple and small gestures go a long way. For example, if you are having a company get together, and the freelancer is relatively local, invite them.
We hope this helps you to become a better project manager – whether for your own projects or a Fortune 500 company!
Disclosure – I have teenagers who constantly need something and a husband who thinks items like race cars and boats are toys. So, throughout the blog you will find affiliate links that enable me to buy a bottle or two or three of wine to keep my sanity intact.