Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things – Peter Drucker
For large projects, structure is everything, from stakeholder engagement minutes to work trackers and custom reports. Most people managing projects of high complexity and large size will use formal methodologies such as Prince 2 — a recognised qualification and quality standard. For smaller projects, formalised approaches may not be needed, but an organised and structured report with quality templates will be extremely useful. Find out if systems, documents and processes already exist within your organisation, such as ISO processes which help to govern quality management practices. This will help you to create a logical and organised structure for your project management approach. Think about how you will manage and record different tasks, capture updates, send communications and reports to your stakeholders and flag up any risks or issues. A good spreadsheet, an Outlook account and a regular series of focused face-to-face sessions will take you a long way. Look out for any available training too to learn the latest good practices and techniques.
A significant risk in project management is a lack of effective communication between those involved and those who need to be kept updated on progress. Establish a regular format, frequency and pattern of communications to the right people. For example, you might want to send a Monday update and task list reminder and a Friday round-up to everyone working on the team, and a general update to your stakeholders towards the end of the week. Think about your audience carefully and tailor messages accordingly. Finally, never forget the power of a good telephone call or face-to-face meeting, particularly to discuss issues, swap ideas or progress in-depth tasks. You can always capture your decisions and actions on email afterwards before adding updates into the tracker.
So you have your spreadsheets, your reporting documents, your communications and engagement plan and documentation that clearly outlines the project objectives, tasks, dependencies and so forth. To make it ‘stick’, you need to stay on top of it. Apply method to your work and take time to record updates and changes to your documents. Capture decisions in writing and store them away using a clear system. Do not allow project management documentation to become outdated. You will need to stay focused, organised, clear and well managed in order to retain your control of the project and ensure successful delivery. And always have a plan B up your sleeve.
As well as being the organised manager of tasks and delivery, the project manager is often responsible for keeping the team motivated and enthused. So remember to be personable and to speak to people in person as much as possible. Take time to celebrate successes and milestones and to recognise achievement. This will help to create a high-performing, enthused and supportive team and will make delivery that bit easier.
Issac is a freelance writer for project management software company, Milestone UK. During university, Issac studied several software management methods such as Prince2 and Agile. Also, Issac completed his SharePoint implementation with close integration with the Microsoft SureStep Methodology (a variation of Prince2).
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