Project managers are responsible for overseeing projects from start to the finish. From managing the teams to maintaining project artifacts, project managers have a lot on their plates.
While juggling deadlines, objectives, conflict, and various constraints - time and resources just to name a couple - a project manager must ensure success in all areas while keeping all the plates spinning that lead to accomplishing the project’s goals. Hectic can sometimes be a term used to describe a project manager's life.
We will talk about 5 goals every project manager should pursue to help achieve project success in 2021 and beyond. And, of course, we’ll start with the “triple constraint” – time, cost, and scope.
1) Think About “Time” Constraints
Time is probably one of the biggest constraints when it comes to project management. To tackle this, you not only have to make sure that you have a solid schedule but also that each member of your team knows their assignments and deadlines, are notifying you immediately with issues that impact the schedule, and completing their work in the best possible manner. You may come off at times as being a micro-manager, but it will be worth it when deadlines are hit, issues or problems are raised way early and you complete the project on time.
Sometimes, a few problems arise that throw a wrench on your plans and prevent even the best project managers from finding a way to complete the job in the allotted time. In those cases, be realistic with the timeline instead of stressing out and make sure you have a good justification for that change order/deadline extension.
2) Keep “Cost” Constraints at the Forefront
From the very beginning, project managers are taught to keep a strict eye on budgets. Due to my own experiences, and those shared with me, difficulties crop up in achieving the results for scattershot and well-thought-out budgets.
Yet, as a project management professional (PMP), it is your responsibility to ensure the budget is adhered to (or properly modified with a change order). You need to stay proactive: know your budget and budget categories; understand when money can and must be spent and conduct funding reconciliation to know when you need to potentially cut costs and push work out. This also helps you know when you can pull work in to start early due to streamlined project efforts that come in under budget.
Keeping an eye on the project budget and being responsive to problems goes a long way. You can see where the budget or expenditures don’t match the purpose of the project and you’ll identify red flags at an earlier stage, allowing you to find ways to complete the project within the funding provided.
3) Adhere To the Project “Scope” Constraints (Requirements)
Every project has a specific set of requirements that need to be met. Missing requirements upfront can cause failure in the final product, service, or result. Be thorough and understand every aspect of the project better than anyone else on your team. You can use different tools (e.g. Trello/Visio/Mind mapper) to keep track of key elements but a good PM knows that a basic WBS (work breakdown structure) is what will keep scope/requirements from falling thru the cracks.
4) Be Attentive to Your Stakeholders
Let us be honest, Stakeholders should be your primary concern throughout the project. It is important to be attentive, responsive, and communicative to your stakeholders and help them understand that you are ready to assist throughout the project lifecycle. Remember, the degree to which you cater to these needs will depend on the amount of power and interest they have on the project which should be identified early on in the project through the use of a stakeholder grid.
Meeting stakeholder expectations across Time, Cost and Scope will ensure you deliver a Quality Project. Keep in constant communication with them to ensure they are feeling comfortable with work as it is progressing. It is proven that the more informed they are, the greater satisfaction they will have at the end of the project. Treat them as partners throughout the project and get them working alongside you.
5) Remember Your Team
Most project managers get so wrapped up in the project that they forget that their team has a life beyond work. As the head of the project, your team is your responsibility, and you need to make sure that you don't stress them out unnecessarily. Give them breaks and a solid work-life balance to allow time to refresh and renew their drive for work.
Always show appreciation for your staff. A note of encouragement on their desk, bringing them their favorite beverage or snack or just telling them “Hey man, Good Job” will go a long way and motivate your team to stay productive. They definitely will remember these small gestures the next time another project rolls around and you’re recruiting team members.