Two simple words, but lots of complexity in the actual undertaking.
Projects often are massive ventures: engineering projects for clients, software program creation, whole server rebuilds. They can be weeks, months or even years in length, encompassing hundreds or even thousands of employee hours with many different parts to their whole (design, execution, administration, billing, etc.).
Therefore, the better managed a project is, the better chance your company has in getting the work done on time, under budget and to your client’s satisfaction.
Plus – and not at all unimportantly – the higher your profit!
A few project management tips
1) Create crystal clear goals and expectations before starting.
Pre-project planning is crucial: projects tend to fail without detailed planning. Scope creep also can be an issue if the project isn’t planned out to the smallest of details. Project parameters to outline include:
- Project scope
- Materials/equipment needed
- Personnel and external participants
- Budgets and their management (keeping in mind your timeline/contract-to-cash management)
- Who reports to whom and when
- Major deadlines and the sub-deadlines that make meeting major deadlines possible
Too many project plans are created between client and company executives. Instead, it’s wise to make sure your project managers are in the loop from the start of project planning.
2) Create the right project team.
When it comes to putting a project management team together, remember it’s not just skills that are important, but project team members with the right attitudes. So aim to align team members’ talents with the appropriate elements of your project. Also – and this is absolutely critical – make sure all members of your team have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Make sure they understand how they specifically contribute to the project’s overall success.
3) Keep everyone – and we mean EVERYONE – in the loop.
Fail to communicate and your project is practically guaranteed to come in late and over budget. Check in regularly with your client connections as well as members of your team.
As we say in our new e-book The Five-Finger Approach to Onboarding (free to download), no news is not necessarily good news. Instead, “[r]espond to every email, answer every call, and if they do not initiate a conversation, pick up the phone and start it yourself.”
It’s also a good idea to create a portal for clients and your project team members in your professional services automation (PSA) platform that will help all members of the team. Portals could include:
- Timelines/milestones and the tasks that go with them
- Contact info for participants
- Discussion threads
- Notes (use instead of trying to keep track of papers, emails, document comments, etc.)
- Files placed in a document manager
4) Create goals and milestones that let you know you’re on the way to reaching the goals.
Decide on various client or manager sign-offs at various important project stages. This helps make sure everyone stays engaged throughout the project and helps keep scope creep at bay.
You also can set up milestone reminders in your PSA (creates transparency around deadlines) and schedule regular status meet-ups/phone calls.
It’s also important to celebrate milestones as they occur and – most important of all – make it ok to bring up issues or “problems” actively among members of your team so that issues can be dealt with quickly.
5) Break projects into manageable, smaller projects.
Projects often are so large they can feel overwhelming to participants. That’s why it’s a good idea to break them in to smaller and measurable sub-goals.
6) The unexpected always occurs. Plan for it.
All the finely tuned project management skills, task breakdowns, and so on are still subject to one all-encompassing phenomenon: something you never, ever could have thought of always pops up.
So keep a sharp eye out for variables that will crop up and be ready to manage them. Be open to new ways of doing things because there’s no one way right way to manage a project.
7) Use a project management tool such as the Aysling PSA.
The Aysling PSA can handle your entire business, from workflow automation, billing, invoicing, workflow management and, of course, project management. It’s an all-in-one cloud-based solution that also comes with dozens of dedicated integrations such as Twilio, Zapier, QuickBooks Online, and more.
We’re always happy to discuss all things Aysling and project management so if you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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