Many of us are either new to project management or our organization is relatively new to a structured PM approach. That’s ok – especially for smaller organizations. The key is to set up a good process and build on it through successful project deployments and understand what works best for your organization and for your customers. You can build a project management methodology, but be open to tweaking it along the way – especially for newer and/or smaller organization as you learn what works best for the size projects you manage.
That said, there are things you can do right now….today….that will make you a better project manager and make your overall project management practice stronger and more successful. The list can be very long – probably as long as you like it to be – this post is meant to be something you can do quickly and easily.
Use a good customer management tool
Many great cloud-based options abound for managing your customers. It can be so easy to lose track of current clients, potential clients and those clients who want you to call them back next quarter when they have more money to spend. You need a good customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Download a few trial offers and see which one works best for your organization.
Use a good project management tool
Just like the CRM tool, there are many cloud-based and very affordable (sometimes free) project management tools. Nobody is stuck with just using Microsoft Project anymore. It’s large, it’s bulky, and it’s very expensive. Search and try a few out…there are literally hundreds available now. You can use a combination of a CRM and a separate project management application, or you can evaluate CRM applications that include project management functionality.
Collect templates and planning documents
A good methodology starts with reusable project management templates and plan documents. You need to plan – you need those requirements documents and communication plans and statements of work. But you also need templates, pipelines and stages so that you can easily repeat project successes. Likewise, project schedule templates are great to have because they are difficult to create from scratch and once you have several good ones to choose from you can tailor them to get started on any type of project fairly quickly and be confident that you’re capturing the right tasks and including the key deliverables.
Meet with your customer regularly
We should all be scheduling weekly status meetings on our projects with our project sponsors and teams. However, you should also be reaching out regularly to your customer just to ensure that they feel all the bases are being covered. Don’t be afraid to ask them how you’re doing…how they feel about the project. Better to find out early about a concern than to let it fester into something that they end up calling your CEO about later in the project. One way you solve the problem, the other way the problem gets solved for you and that’s bad. Look for applications that let you create tasks or automatic reminders to stay in touch with your customers.
Treat your team professionally
You probably have at your disposal a solid group of very skilled project resources. Treat them as such and they will follow you into battle. Treat them with respect and be sure to acknowledge their successes along the way…publicly. They won’t soon forget the recognition you give them for jobs well done. Project managers don’t often get the praises they probably deserve for individual project successes, but that should never stop you from treating your team the way you would want to be treated and recognized. It will pay off dividends throughout the engagement and when these same resources end up on your teams later on other projects. Using a project management application can help you identify your star players and also help your entire team use the same repeatable processes for better overall efficiency.
This is just a short list of five things the project manager can do to make things better for them, their teams, their customers and the organizations they work in. The list could go on and on. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences – especially in small to medium size…or startup type…business environments.
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