Want to be a project manager? Check this out
As with any other career, being a project manager includes a whole set of challenges you will need to overcome in order to become a successful professional in this area. From being a natural problem solver to understanding clients’ needs as well as assessing professional skills of your team members, these are all the qualities that will significantly help you in your PM career. As with any other aspect in business, or even generally in life, only a minor part of success is talent, and probably 80-90% of success is hard work. With that being said, there are certainly things you can learn and improve to be good in this profession. Here are some of the important things you should know about being a project manager and some tips that may help you excel in it.
Listen and write – Nail down all details and requirements
You can’t learn if you don’t listen. When starting a new project you need to listen to your clients or whomever is setting the goals for the new project. Pay attention to desires and goals that need to be achieved. Write down all the details you hear through those initial conversations and meetings and be prepared to evaluate requirements. Certain details can affect timelines or budget for the project completion so it is important to have a clear vision of goals and requirements at the very beginning. Do not hesitate to ask questions and poke around for more details. If you get a feeling that too many questions in one session may be slightly overwhelming for clients, then schedule another session for certain details. Do not leave room for any uncertainties, as such may create a gap between what client is expecting as the end result, and what you actually deliver. Details are of utmost importance!
Identify team requirements
After gathering all the project requirements from either clients or team executives, it is time to assess your team members with best skills needed for that specific project. Having people with right skills, doing right parts of the project will make a difference between success and failure. Hence, knowing your team well and what each of your team members is good at is of a huge importance.
Set the project milestones
Trying to eat the whole orange in a single bite will probably cause you to choke on it. However, if you slice it down a little bit, and eat piece by piece, things will go much smoother. This common knowledge can and should be applied to projects as well. Define important milestones and slice down bigger projects into pieces. Use those mini goals as break points in your whole project to consult with your whole team and with the client to make sure that you are on the right path. Such moments can be important to determine any possible pain-points and slightly re-adjust the process or the final goal, if needed. Such breakpoints will also help you stay on top of the time-frame for completion as well as improve the cost control.
Anticipate issues and be ready to solve them
Running any kind of a bigger project management operation and hoping that everything will go smooth without any issues along the way might be a bit naïve. While it may happen you’ll be lucky enough and have no major setbacks or issues, relaying just on luck may not be the best idea. Being aware of any potential risks and being well prepared to react in such situations is a smart thing to do. Having an ace in your sleeve in case any issues arise might help you resolve such problems much faster and prove to your team that you are not a good project manager by luck, but for a reason. Staying within predicted timeframe for the project completion might depend on how fast you can resolve certain issues along the way. Are you a good problem solver?
Quality control: test, test and then test some more
While still working on your project, make sure that all deliverables are being properly tested. You do not need to wait for the whole project to end to do that. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t wait for the whole project to end to test everything. While the project is still being worked on, do some testing and quality control on all those things that can be realistically tested at each phase of your project. Detecting certain issues on time might help your team stay on track and adjust later project phases.
Learn from your experience
Use every project to learn about your procedures and measures. Learn from mistakes, and use every project to assess your personal and your team’s weaknesses. Such experience will help you be better prepared for future projects.