Project Management and Planning
Great, so you’ve successfully onboarded your client and followed all our advice… you’re even almost the best of buddies. Well done. But now, before you do ANY work on the project, you need to establish the project parameters and use the right project management tools to help you stay on top of your work.
5: Managing your time effectively
Project time tracking isn't about keeping tabs on your team – it's about producing data you can use to generate accurate project costing/estimations, process payroll and value work-in-progress. In fact, time tracking can give you real-time visibility of your projects, improve staff efficiency and drive greater business profitability.
Ever wondered how much time employees spend on specific tasks? Or which of your employees are the most productive? How many hours of "actual work" did an employee put in, versus the number of "clocked" hours? And what portion of the employee's day was spent on personal or unstructured activities?
The answer to all of those questions can be answered by using the right time management tools.
So, what time-management strategies can you implement in your business?
- Use an online system. Seriously, it’s time to bid those awful excel spreadsheets bye-bye! A cloud based timesheet system will enable you to add time from anywhere, across devices, and if you can’t remember all the job details on the spot, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off later!
- Make time tracking fun. Offer cool incentives for staff to get their timesheets in on time.
- Offer training and support. New systems can be daunting. Let your staff know you’ve got their back by offering them educational resources, training videos, and plenty of time to familiarise themselves with the new tool. Bear in mind that some of your team – especially the older generation – may be slower on the uptake than others, so try to make an allowance for this behavioral change when you’re expecting widespread adoption.
- Keep meetings short. We know meetings are a necessary evil, but the less time wasted, the more time your team can actually spend doing stuff!
- Limit emails. Or better yet, use inter-office communication tools.
- Use internet blocking sites. (Like Freedom). Choose the sites you want to block and sync blocks across all of your devices. Freedom users report gaining an average of 2.5 hours of productive time each day!
- Practice time blocking. For example, use the Pomodoro technique to focus on one task at a time, break tasks down into small goals, and get more done.
- Try adding in a power hour. Block out your calendar for that hour so people can’t schedule meetings in, or move to somewhere quiet – without your phone – and try to get as much done as you can in those precious 60 minutes.
6: How to be a great project manager
Anyone can manage a project, but knowing the theory is very different from understanding its proper application and successfully working with your team to achieve the project’s objectives.
So what are some of the traits you need as an exceptional project manager?
Exceptional organisational skills
Were you the kind of kid who colour-coded his pencils or lined up her stuffed animals according to height order? And then made everyone else to do the same? Project management might just be your jam!
Vision & Focus
You need to be able to see the “big picture” in order to hold the overarching project goals in check. But you also need to have laser like focus on the details, in order to ensure that nothing is lost – it's the little details that come together to create the flawless whole. As Kyle Racki, CEO of Proposify puts it: “Good project managers plan for the unplanned.”
A project manager is responsible for the entire job. You need to be able to inspire great work, manage different types of people, and react quickly while under stress. Project management isn’t for everybody, but those with strong leadership skills will do well in the field. See this Entrepreneur article on 50 Rules for being a Great Leader for ideas on how to improve your leadership abilities.
Familiarity with project management software
There are many different types of software designed to make managing projects simple. Luckily, with WorkflowMax’s 14-day free trial, it’s easy to get familiar with the way project management tools enable a team to track every facet of a job.
Planning and Risk management skills
The truth is, “not every project is going to be stuffed full of rainbows and unicorns” (wisdom via NerdyOrganized.com). It’s what you do when your project goes wrong that says the most about your leadership, planning and risk management skills. Are you comfortable dealing with crisis, able to keep a cool head and steer the project back on track?
Current technical and soft skills
Whatever your industry, there will be different technical competencies, methodologies and project management tools that you’ll need to be able to understand and implement.
A good project management professional is one that has an understanding of the business pressures and pain points in a particular industry. Often, a company looking to hire a project manager will look for someone with business management experience or a business degree.
Ability to delegate
Being able to trust the team you've built is an incredibly important trait, as is letting go of control, knowing exactly when to step in and being able to assign responsibility to the right people.
6 tips to improve your project management skills:
Tip 1: Communication is everything
With so many stakeholders, suppliers and team members to juggle, it’s vital that communication channels are clear so the right message gets through. Use every opportunity to get better at your communication skills and try to stay objective when assessing the outcome. Visit your local Toastmasters club to see if they can help!
Tip 2: Ask good questions
Great project managers know that they don’t know everything. Asking questions of staff, contractors, clients and stakeholders helps you understand their needs and ensure they have everything they need.
Tip 3: Share information freely
The more information people have, the better they can do their jobs. Make sure everyone has access to what they need, whether it’s the original client brief or the right project management tools and any add-ons.
Tip 4: Resolve conflicts quickly
Bad blood between clients, stakeholders or contractors can quickly derail a project if it’s not dealt with as soon as possible. Good project managers are skilled communicators, and should be comfortable with conflict resolution. Consider taking an online course to brush up your skills.
Tip 5: Make friends and influence people
The best project managers attend industry events and maintain a virtual army of contacts and friends. When a client needs a person for a particular job, you want to be able to whip out your phone and call the perfect person. Check out Dale Carnegie’s timeless book for more tangible advice.
Tip 6: Know your stuff
You’re the expert who needs to juggle every aspect of the project, so you need the knowledge and skills behind you to ensure you make the best decisions. Make sure you’re regularly talking to different teams and staying abreast of the latest developments – at a project and industry level.
Get more great advice here: 25 Tips to Increase Your Agency's Productivity