10 Project Management Strategies For Success
Expertly deployed project management strategies can mean the difference between a project that comes in on time and on budget - and one that doesn’t.
Today’s project managers handle increasingly complex, multi-faceted projects. Often, such projects rely on the skills and experience of professionals from a range of departments across the business, so careful management is key to keeping all those plates spinning.
As a result, the importance of project management strategies is on the rise. As projects become ever more complicated, and resources are stretched further than ever before, management strategies become far more decisive in terms of the impact that they can have.
In this article, we’ll discuss what this means for project management strategies, before running through 10 ways to create the most effective strategies for any project. Read on for all the tips from our experts.
What is a project management strategy?
A project management strategy is a set of plans and methods used by project managers to map out how projects will run and how targets will be met.
A cornerstone of project success, project management strategies are designed to nurture communication and teamwork. These strategies should also focus on improving clarity, particularly with regard to the responsibilities of different individuals involved.
Good project management strategies help everyone keep track of what’s been done and what needs to be addressed next. In doing so, strategies ensure that teams keep to targets and deadlines as projects progress.
Why are project management strategies important?
Having a project management strategy is vital for today’s businesses. They help teams recognise challenges and maximize efficiency. When done right, they provide a framework for a more productive working environment.
Leaders use project management strategies to keep spending on track. Strategies also help to ensure that targets are being met within pre-agreed timeframes, and that projects are completed on time - even when challenges crop up along the way.
The stakes are high in project management, because failures really hit the bottom line. In fact, recent research supports the argument for prioritizing project management strategies from day one.
It has been estimated that across all organizations, 11.4% of resources are wasted due to inferior project management processes. Surveys also suggest that companies that fail to integrate project management into their strategies see an upsurge in failure rates by a factor of two-thirds.
10 Project Management Strategies
Keep your projects running efficiently and make full use of the resources at your team’s disposal by focusing on project management from the very beginning. Here are our go-to tips for creating project management strategies that are destined for success.
1. Decide your goals and define success
First, think about what success would look like for the project in question. Clearly define the goals of the project and agree on what reaching them will look like. This could mean outlining benchmarked metrics, or aligning on any other KPIs that are important to the team. This is important as it will provide the overall direction for the project. Defining what success looks like, and how to reach it, also includes having a good grasp over the following:
Incoming project amendments
Identifying any incoming changes or developments that could throw your project off course, means you can avoid lass-minute surprises and adjust goals accordingly. For instance, if the client is still finalizing their budget you’ll need to have a scope and goals laid out for budget each option.
Preparing for success involves preparing for failures too. If you can highlight any potential obstacles before the project starts, you can include contingencies or fallback options, and avoid costly disruptions later down the road. Although it’s not often that two projects are exactly the same, it’s worth leveraging any similar past projects as examples and seeing if there were any challenges that may reoccur. Having a central source of truth to hold this past project information would be a useful initiative too as this will prevent teams having to dig through files of documents on past work.
Keep teams in the loop
Don’t overlook communication at this point. All team members involved should be informed at every step of this process so sudden changes don’t throw people off balance. Remaining adaptable to changes inv;oves having clear lines of communication between team members.
2. Finalize project details
Once you know what you’re hoping to achieve with a project, it’s time to finalize the scope. Use the project aims, team needs and client/stakeholder requirements to ascertain the size of the project. This also ensures all parties are squared-away on the expected deliverables.
Your project details should be specific, but avoid making the list so exhaustive that it leaves little room for flexibility. This means project managers will be able to delegate and strategise in a way that avoids unplanned overspends.
Managers should use this as a time to finalize resource allocation. Understanding the project scope will help teams realise how much internal and external resources will be needed and, importantly, the overall timeline of the project.
3. Communicate with clients and relevant team members
Communication is crucial in project management, but as projects grow more complex communication naturally become more challenging. As a result, poor communication still ranks amongst the most commonly seen reasons for project failure.
Nurture bonds within teams and bring departments together to improve communication across your business. Doing so could help you avoid the sort of communication breakdown that can derail a project.
Make use of all the tools and resources at your disposal to improve visibility and establish clear communication lines within teams (and across the business as a whole). Consider organizing regular status update meetings and leverage project management software to help centralize and simplify communication.
Ultimately, ensuring all project documentation, references and conversations are kept on one platform leaves a much smaller margin for error and miscommunication - things that all-too-often slow project progress. It also means team members can collaborate a lot more efficiently and will spend less time hunting around for the relevant project information.
4. Set clear expectations with achievable milestones
As mentioned above, poor communication is a project killer. Clearly communicating expectations is a key part of preventing this by ensuring alignment from day one. All team members should be following the same guidelines to minimize the chance of errors. For instance, if the project is expected to end in one-month, everyone should be working to this deadline.
The easiest way for a team to keep on top of expectations is by setting milestones. Not only will milestones help keep team members on track, they’re also great in terms of motivation - especially if a project is expected to run for a considerable period of time.
Break the project expectations into phases, and set a milestone for each phase. These should me measurable and, importantly, definitive - ie, indicate the start or end of a phase with little room for misunderstanding. Milestones will vary from project to project, but examples could include getting the project budget and scope approved, or completing the design/development phase.
Of course, by incorporating milestones you’ll also make project tracking that bit easier too.
5. Implement a work breakdown structure
A work breakdown structure (WBS) will not only help to break the project down into achievable blocks (with associated milestones), but they will also help managers to establish which team members will be responsible for different tasks.
WBS models often appear with three levels:
The first is the largest, primary project goal.
The next level involves breaking this primary goal down into smaller component parts (normally five-ten), each with its own deadline and assigned resources.
The third level is a further breakdown of level two. These will most likely be the individual tasks needed to complete each phase.
A carefully planned work breakdown structure will leave no room for ambiguity when it comes to determining who is responsible for what. This in turn will minimize the risk of delays as different departments pick up their tasks and work through them.
Think about how departments might approach different projects. By working in sprints for example, teams may be able to make better use of their time - and the project could well progress faster as a result.
6. Encourage collaboration from day one
Larger projects will most likely require cross-team collaboration. Making it easier to work together means different team members will be much more likely to engage in productive collaboration.
When you have a good grasp over project deliverables, it becomes a lot easier to spot when and how teams will need to work together. Use this knowledge to choose a communication channel that works around these needs.
Project management tools are invaluable when it comes to improving collaboration through great communication because they act as a central port for all project communication. That way, all relevant teams will always have access to discussions that might be useful to them.
7. Document your processes
The more information teams have at their disposal, the better. So document your processes by creating and sharing tasks, timelines, information on collaborators and anything else that might be required.
This is why having a central platform for all of this is so important. When the project is delivered, project managers can then review all of this documentation and highlight what went well, and what can be improved upon. Crucially, having a written record of the work breakdown structure, workflows, deadlines and resources will also be incredibly helpful when it comes to planning the next similar project.
8. Avoid micromanagement
Prioritizing communication and accessibility will avoid other issues that could hinder progress, such as micromanagement. At the end of the day, no one enjoys the feeling of someone standing over them and watching their every move - it can cause them to freeze, raises stress levels and is more likely to cause errors than prevent them.
Instead, give teams access to all the information they might need from day one, and encourage them to discuss and resolve challenges as they go. Make sure people on your team feel comfortable to give and receive feedback by creating an open environment with good communication channels. This way, if you encounter any issues, you can work on solving them as a team.
9. Stay flexible, adaptable and receptive to feedback
We’ve talked a lot about planning, preparation and communication - but even the best planners must leave some room for last minute edits during a project.
Remember, even with careful forecasting you may still come up against challenges that no one had predicted, so it’s important that stay flexible.
Be careful of overplanning to the extent that you start to overlook feedback during the project. As mentioned in the point above, feedback (both internal and external) is an incredibly important project phase and should be encouraged as much as necessary.
Always account for feedback when timeline planning and, again, make sure to champion communication. Don’t be afraid to amend the project plan if you think it’s necessary. The plan should be just that - a plan. It’s not written in stone and can, and should, evolve as the project progresses. It’s always worth keeping things agile so that you can capitalize on any feedback gathered as you go.
10. Evaluate the project after it’s finished
As your project draws to a close, it’s time to focus on learning. Look beyond the binary of success and failure and instead identify any learnings that you can use next time.
Don’t be afraid to be critical at this point. This is where you’ll learn from mistakes to optimize project management strategies and help teams really hit the ground running on the next project. Similarly, don’t shy away from what went well either. If a specific process of workflow was particularly effective, there will probably be way be a way to utilize it in different projects going forward.
Enhance Your Project Management Strategies With The Right Software
Project management was once an incredibly complex and time-consuming task, but highly intelligent, user-friendly tools are now turning things around.
Hello Ivy simple project management software has been designed to improve productivity by getting teams on the same page. With it, employees can access tasks, projects and team communication all from one place. This way, everything you need to successfully implement your project management strategy is kept on one intuitive platform.
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