What does it take to excel in project management as a leader?

How can you improve your project management skills?

Project management is the backbone of any successful change within a business. Whether it is a full-blown digital transformation or a small shift in internal delivery procedures, you need a team of people dedicated to planning out the change, seeing it through and evaluating how successful it is along the way.

One approach to project management suggested by HBR is broken up into four parts: Planning, build-up, implementation and close-up. Let’s take a look at how to excel at every step of the project management process.

Planning

Project management involves a lot of planning but this first phase of planning is arguably the most important. Before you begin making schedules and timelines you need to define what you want out of a given project, explained HBR.

Sit down with your team and decide what problem you are aiming to solve with this venture.

Sit down with your team and decide what problem(s) you are aiming to solve with this venture. Who needs to be involved to get the job done? What are the big picture things that need to be done? Do you have the resources to get started?

Choosing your team is a big part of this process and involves some solid understanding of the players. Project managers need to keep in mind how different employees work, what other projects they have going on and how much time they will need to complete their portion of the task.

Build-up

The build-up stage is all about gathering and organising your resources. You need to bring your team together, make concrete budgets, create schedules and secure commitments. Once you have decided on your team and made some form of a timeline HBR suggests holding a kickoff meeting.

The big thing during this stage is making sure your communication about every detail is completely clear. Go over your desired objectives in hyper-detail, explain the various roles one by one. Make the whole meeting an open discussion and seriously consider all feedback as some of the team roles may be out of your knowledge range, explained HBR.

You want every one of your team members to leave the kickoff meeting knowing exactly what their role is and how it plays into the larger outcome of the project. Create handouts or email docs so that everyone can reference them later.

Good project management requires meticulous planning and organisation.Good project management requires meticulous planning and organisation.

Implementation

This is where the action starts. From a project management perspective this phase is all about monitoring and controlling the plans and systems that have been put in place. While this may be overwhelming at times, especially with bigger projects, it is the backbone of the project manager role.

Keep up with progress reports at specified times, make sure you schedule consistent updates with key project players. These processes will ensure any problems are addressed at the onset when they are more manageable instead of later down the road.

Strong project management is something that can be learned with some practise.

Close-up

The final step to any project is the evaluation period. While some undertakings are longer than others, almost every project will see an end at some point. This is a time for reflection. Hold a closing meeting with your team and have a serious discussion on the progress of your project – what could have been done better? Where were the biggest strengths and weaknesses? This is your chance to find things that can be improved on in the future.

Like most business skills, strong project management is something that can be learned with some practice. ICML offers a variety of training programs in this area for project managers (or leaders in general) looking to improve their approaches. Interested in learning more? Reach out to one of our trainers to chat today!


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