As much as we’d all like it to be true, projects don’t operate on autopilot – it takes more than just a vision and the means to make a project succeed uninterrupted. Useful project management strategies help make it all happen – they take us from start to finish, bridging a gap that can feel miles long at times. Project management strategies help us make meaningful progress against our goals, rather than feel like our work is being sacrificed into the ether. While there are no shortage of excellent strategies one can leverage in their work, we’ve hand-selected five pillar strategies to help you boost successes and minimize failures in your projects.
Projects fail when the crucial elements of communication, people, or processes begin to break down. The bread and butter of project management is organizing resources, people, and processes to achieve a defined goal. It requires meticulous commitment, organization, and stellar communication to accomplish effectively, and keeping these bases in harmony will reduce catastrophic outcomes into minor hiccups.
One of the most important missions a project manager can undertake in avoiding these pitfalls is to keep their projects on task by sticking to the basics. Initiate, plan, execute, monitor, test, and close – with rare exception, successful projects follow this framework religiously. Until you define the strategies you’ll employ to get your project to done, your ultimate goal is merely a daydream soon to be forgotten.
According to a PwC study, 97% of organizations know that project management is critical to business performance and success – what makes you think you know better?
On Strategic Planning
Often overlooked in the initial staging of a project, strategic planning looks at the end goal and aims to answer the question, “how do we get there?”. It incorporates the mindful allocation of resources, weighing of priorities, and sets the definitive milestones and processes to measure progress as the project is executed.
When COVID-19 took the world by storm, people in jobs across the planet were thrown out of work. On-location jobs quickly became remote as teams were forced to adapt, often requiring new training, resources, and outlooks. Every company affected by COVID-19 today dove head-first into the need for strategic planning – and those that couldn’t tread water (unfortunately) sank.
Project Management Strategies
Running blindly towards a finished project without any kind of strategy and letting things fall where they may quickly results in exponential scope creep, leading to wasted money, decreasing satisfaction, and a final result that barely resembles what was initially the objective.
These five project management strategies will help you create a plan that is efficient and repeatable for each new project.
Strategy 1: Know What You’re Producing
Before you begin the planning stage of your project, you have to know what the project entails. Work backwards from the finish to help elucidate these steps and milestones. What is needed to get to the final product? Set aside time to become intimately familiar with everything you have to accomplish, and spend time determining what resources you’ll need to make it happen. Do not hesitate to ask clarifying questions of your stakeholders at this point – knowing your mission inside and out will save you a lot of frustration down the road.
Strategy 2: Examine the project with a fresh set of eyes (or several)
During the planning phase, step back and look at the project from the perspectives of different roles. Each will likely face challenges that another is completely blind to. An architect’s approach and concerns will be worlds different from the project foreman - your planning has to account for each role’s needs and has to anticipate common problems that could arise. It is always beneficial to consult your team for feedback at this stage – as much as it feels like you’ve planned everything, it’s quite likely you’ve missed something. Leverage your team to make sure that something isn’t going to bite you later.
Strategy 3: Recruit the right people for the job
A project will only be as successful as those working on it - each person on a team needs to be an asset, not a liability. Make sure each member of your team brings useful skills to the table and won’t hinder progress at a critical moment due to a shortcoming. Competitive skillsets and headstrong personalities will completely derail a project if given the opportunity.
Strategy 4: Set achievable milestones to measure progress
Large projects run the risk of drifting off-track and running behind schedule without specific, measurable milestones in place. Milestones break a project into frequent, more manageable sections. They keep your team accountable to each segment of the project and allow adjustment of the full picture if needs or circumstances change.
Setting milestones is also a great way to manage expectations from your stakeholders – having defined points with set due dates throughout the project will allow easy reporting to your stakeholders how a project is coming along — without needing to bring every task under the microscope.
Strategy 5: Evaluate and adjust processes after project completion
Conducting a post-mortem at the project’s conclusion can lend tremendous insight that will change you and your team’s approaches to tasks and conflicts in the future. Beyond examining the successes and failures, have a conversion with your team about what could be done differently next time. Celebrate your wins and take time to recognize what you’d want to carry on with you to future projects. Take an equal amount of time to examine where things broke down. This process allows you to identify your effective traits, while at the same time refining the rougher points of your projects for the better.
Take the pressure off of your brain
Implementing project management strategy as we’ve outlined above is made simple with project management software like Viewpath. We’ve developed the tools you need to see your projects through to completion, and we’re ready to help you get there.