The project management lifecycle – initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. It’s what project managers lead their teams through. The project manager defines the objectives, creates a plan to achieve those objectives, and then makes things happen to accomplish them.

There is a problem that needs to be fixed, and the project manager is the fixer.

But, even though project management is essential, only 21 percent of companies report having standardized project management systems. Poorly executed projects cost businesses $109 million for every $1 billion invested in projects.

Conversely, companies with good project management practices save almost 30 times more money than those who do not.

How do great project managers get things done? Here is a description of what top-notch project managers do.

Good project managers set goals

One of the primary responsibilities of any manager or any project manager is goal setting. Project managers need to be clear about what goals they want to achieve and what expectations they have for their team. Without careful planning, the project is unlikely to succeed and may veer off course.

Parameters that project managers need to look at include objectives and scope of the project, timeline, materials that are needed, the people that are needed, and budgets.

The project manager needs to lay out who reports to whom, as well as primary and secondary deadlines.

Good project managers plan and organize

They need to know how to prioritize activities, break down projects into manageable parts and document work that has been done.

Good project managers know how to monitor and evaluate

If something is taking longer than planned, or work is in danger of not making a deadline, a good project manager will be aware of it. They make sure they are getting continual feedback from everyone on their team, so they know how work is progressing.

And they always analyze what worked and what didn’t for future reference.

Good project managers know how to put together a good team

Good project management means looking at more than just skills when putting together a team. A good project manager will look at personalities and attitudes as well. They want to make sure they have people who can work together. And they want to make sure each person has the talents and temperament that align with their particular aspect of the project.

Good project managers are always giving feedback to their team, coaching, and handling conflicts when they arise. Managers clearly define each person’s role and responsibilities.

A project manager is responsible for getting all of his or her team members on the same page, working toward a common goal. The manager knows how to delegate tasks, resolve conflicts, evaluate the performance of team members, and coach them to improve their skills.

Good project management means leading

Great project managers lead by example, not expecting their team members to do anything the project manager wouldn’t do themselves. They give support and direction to the team. In addition to the coordination of activities, they also provide encouragement and motivation through things such as giving rewards and recognition, and team building activities. They know how to cultivate a positive and cooperative working environment. 

Good project managers know how to manage budgets

This is one of the most crucial responsibilities of the project manager. They need to put together a workable budget and manage it through the lifecycle. The manager needs to know how to determine where costs are going over budget and what needs to be done to bring them under control. They need to be able to monitor costs, work with spreadsheets and make decisions about expenses.

Good project managers know how to manage risk

Good project management means preparing for the unexpected and having the expertise to know where problems might crop up. Project managers with these skills put together a plan for how to handle these problem situations. They know how to use risk management tools to analyze risk factors and develop strategies to handle them.

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