Congratulations! You’ve been asking your boss for more responsibility – and often have been taking the lead on small projects and initiatives without being asked – and your boss has rewarded your acumen and moxie by… making you project manager of a major departmental or even company-wide initiative!
Supervisors don’t designate someone as project manager for small programs. Nope. These usually are projects that will take several weeks, if not months; and, if they don’t have a budget in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, they at least almost always have many layers, timetables/deadlines, personnel working on the project, and more.
In a nutshell, projects that need project managers are…. complicated.
How to successfully manage a project if you’ve never managed one before.
1) “Begin with the end in mind.”
Businessman Stephen R. Covey is famous for saying this (although he wasn’t the first to come up with it) and his advice is just as relevant today as it was when he became famous for writing it almost three decades ago. In other words: know the goal(s) you want to meet and then give yourself and your project team members a deadline to meet.
2) Consider becoming certified in project management.
This could be an especially smart move if you decide you want to move into a project manager roles in your career. Even if you don’t, having such certification can make you more attractive to other employers in the future.
3) Know your ultimate goal and know it intimately.
That is, write it down. Be as specific as possible because chances are great you and your team members are going to find yourselves facing situations and challenges – and even people – that will work to see you change your project’s goal.
Because you know the critical details of your end-goal intimately, unless these situations, requests and challenges will get you to that goal by your deadline, it’s best to “just say no” to these as they pop up.
4) Define the project’s critical milestones.
Projects that need a project manager tend to be months or even years long. It can therefore become hard to see if you’re making any progress as the weeks and months go by.
Many projects tend to be split into primary phases and sub-phases, with the main phases being the starting, planning, executing, and closing portions of the project, while the sub-phases are such things as compiling data, writing tech documents, hiring (if needed), purchasing equipment, and creating marketing plans and materials, etc.
Writing out the different goals and milestones in the overall project’s timeline will help you and your team members know if you’re on your way to meeting your overall project deadlines.
Sub-phases (or tasks as we call them) also help you feel a sense of progress and accomplishment as you meet them.
5) Communicate, communicate, and…. communicate some more.
When it comes to large projects, possibly one of the best of tips to manage a project is to create open communication among all entities involved in the project – from team members, managers, clients, and even stakeholders. To do so:
– Regularly create status reports and distribute to everyone.
– Hold an all-hands-on-deck meeting with people working on the project at least once every week.
– Make sure all parties to the project know you have an open-door policy so that they can ask any questions or bring up any concerns they may have with you.
6) Make your project management software your new BFF!
Large projects such as the one you’re managing need software to manage them efficiently… and successfully. So many moving parts. So many moving team members. So many goals and cost centers.
Rather than have everyone work on the project with their own software platforms – even if they are project management software – it’s best to find a platform that can keep everyone on track and in the loop.
Aysling’s Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP) can keep all of your project’s team members and moving parts on the same page. Using a cloud-based platform such as Aysling allows you – and anyone you designate – to manage projects, bill vendors, pay and manage employees and contractors, balance the books, market and sell, and more.
Aysling is easy to learn and teach. We have an exceptionally strong support team to help you when you’re stuck and help you out of jam.
Learn more about how Aysling can make your first time as a project management a breeze.