9 Things Every Project Manager Should Know

Aug 11, 2020 | Project Management

Your early years as a project manager are one of the most defining moments of the entire project management career. Failures during this period keep haunting you throughout your career, and if they’re big enough, they can even put an end to it..

As a project manager, you need to be extremely careful about the decisions you make at the start of your career. In this article, we will discuss the top things every project manager should know.

Set Project Expectations

To learn how to communicate project needs effectively, you need to establish a project communication plan. The plan can help you establish project expectations at the beginning of the project and clarify what you want with team members and stakeholders.

For this purpose, you can utilize a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI) Chart to illustrate and explain project goals. The chart is an effective way of streamlining project expectations and communicating them effectively. If all team members and relevant stakeholders are aware of their responsibilities and deadlines, it is easier for them to work on it.

Establish Benchmarks for Success

Establishing benchmarks for success early in the project is necessary for keeping track of project requirements and evaluating how well you have achieved them. Sometimes, goals seem straightforward at first, but as the project continues, you discover various dimensions to the given objective.

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Photographer: Estée Janssens | Source: Unsplash

For instance, if you want to build a page for account login for a mobile app, it seems relatively straightforward. However, this simple task can have many hidden requirements depending on what kind of mobile application it is. A mobile app for banking services needs to have a more secure login than an app for food delivery, and you will need to limit the number of failed logins.

In such cases, simply making a login page would not satisfy the security requirements of the client and, thus, should not be considered a benchmark for success. If you establish accurate benchmarks for success before the project starts, you can keep project requirements in check during the project.

Determine Who Has Executive Authority Amongst Your Client

Knowing which person has executive authority on project requirements is essential when you are communicating with your client. Oftentimes, you will communicate with a number of different individuals, all of whom would be representing your client.

However, these individuals can put additional load on you by assigning tasks that are different from what the client had asked. This is why it is important to identify which person has the executive authority in making decisions in your client’s team.

Following this step can help you clear any doubts about what the client really wants you to deliver versus what the subordinates would lead you to believe. Furthermore, if you know which person has executive authority, you would know whom to turn to when making critical decisions about the project.

Assign Responsibilities

Before you begin a project, you are responsible for making critical decisions within your internal team. Assigning roles and responsibilities based on merit is perhaps the most important job of a project manager. Therefore, you need to distribute tasks according to each person’s expertise.

As a project manager, it’s important for you to look beyond your perceptions and seek feedback from your team to identify the most capable person for a given job. During this process, you should make it clear whether the person can complete the task under the given budget and time. You also need to see if anyone lacks certain skills or needs additional training and support.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to know about everyone’s individual abilities, especially if you haven’t worked with them long enough. In such cases, you can take feedback from senior professionals who have worked in that environment before, or at least know the people who are in your team.

Utilize a Milestone Tracker

A milestone tracker is a tool for monitoring progress on a particular process, project, or task. As a project manager, you always need to be aware of the progress, ongoing problems and updates in a project. A milestone tracker can help you monitor the project effectively.

making appointments
Photographer: STIL | Source: Unsplash

You can use a simple Excel sheet for this purpose. Try listing all the milestones in one column and organize them through project phases. At the same time, include the name and contact of the person responsible for the given task, as well as the target date and task notes.

You can also try to color-code each task entry depending on the urgency of a given task. Therefore, you have the option to track projects on their way to delivery and address management risks immediately. Although this document is extremely simple, it is a useful technique for tracking and communicating progress to stakeholders.

Utilize Email Templates

As a project manager, you need to constantly send emails to your team members and stakeholders alike. You may send several of these emails on a routine basis that it seems redundant to type them over and over again. Therefore, you should try to leverage template emails to streamline communication through emails.

Whenever you want to save an email template, you can type it in a new message, assign a suitable subject line and then save it as a draft without adding any recipients. After that, just copy and paste the message whenever you need to send the email out. Alternatively, if you are an Outlook user, you can just press “Ctrl” and “F” simultaneously to forward the email draft.

Using templates can be incredibly useful for conveying responses to frequently asked questions; outlining routine project status updates, and routine messages such as emails for meeting calls.

Utilize Checklists

Checklists are excellent tools for keeping a track of routine tasks. As a project manager, you can use checklists for hosting Project Board meetings or keeping track of important points during project kick-off. It can also be extremely helpful in helping you remember things you struggle with. By doing so, you can ensure that no important point is missed out during meet-ups.

Make a Communications Asset Register

A communications asset register is a register that enlists all communications assets that belong to a particular project. This means that the register should include important documents that define the scope and requirements of the project, as well as other documents.

Utilize Email Mailing Lists

Creating email lists can be extremely helpful in streamlining emails during the course of the project. You can create separate categories Project Board members, project team members, and other important contacts. These mailing lists are not only good at saving your time, but they also ensure that no one is left out from the email delivery list.

As a project manager, it’s essential to look for different ways to keep improving at every stage of your career. However, by using the tips listed above, you can streamline your work in the early stages of your career.

To learn about other important tips related to project management, you can always consider an online project management course from an experienced instructor.

Project Vanguard provides high-quality project management online courses to help understand the building blocks of project management. It’s difficult to fill a project manager’s role, but with the right guidance and training, you can boost your management skills and apply project management techniques to take your career forward.

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