Every project manager knows that many projects fail. When projects do fail, there can be a huge loss of time, money, and morale, not to mention a loss of goodwill from clients.
As a project manager, you have to lead your team through projects in a way that sets up the best chance of succeeding. That means not just knowing what you’re doing but also ensuring that your team has all of the elements it needs.
While every project differs, there are 4 main elements of a successful project, and they all start with the project manager.
A clear plan
It may seem to go without saying that you need a clear plan before you start, but we’re saying it anyway! Too often, people begin a project with an idea in mind but without a clear, detailed plan. Creativity and spontaneity have their places during a project, but this is not one of them!
Plan in advance as much as possible, then. What are the deliverables, and what could potentially create problems or go wrong? As you go along, document everything so there is a record to refer to.
The unexpected can always happen, of course. However, when things change, that clear plan will help you and your team stay on track. A good plan is a key road map to success.
The right team
A team is only a team if all the parts work well together. All of the project’s contributors must be qualified for what they’re doing, and a project manager has to have the skills to organize and lead. The project manager also must be willing to make changes when needed, and that includes replacing team members with others who are a better fit.
Having the right team involves more than just strong qualifications. Do the team members support and collaborate with one another, or are they individuals principally focused on their parts? In the latter case, the lack of cohesion can drag everything down; it can also result in rivalries and resentment.
A strong team that works well together will have better morale and will deliver better results.
Miscommunication and poor communication can make a team and a project unravel. To avoid this, keep the team as informed as possible so that everyone stays on the same page. You can have regular meetings or send teamwide emails on a routine basis, as some examples.
The project manager’s ability to listen is also an important aspect of effective communication. Listening to questions and concerns doesn’t just provide clarity and help tackle problems. It also makes all team members feel valued and involved.
Another approach to project management is Agile project management. Heavily focused on flexibility and iteration, Agile establishes a solid structure for communication. Its efficiency and success rate are some of the reasons the Agile approach is increasingly popular.
Effective knowledge management
This element incorporates aspects of the other three and ties them together as well. In short, know what’s going on, have good records, and monitor the team.
Effective knowledge management means documenting everything in order to establish that record and keep on track with the plan. It also means ensuring that all the team members have what they need to succeed at their tasks and work together smoothly. Secure all necessary contracts, make sure plans are in place, provide templates and code libraries, etc.
How to maximize your success
It’s not a badge of shame to admit that you can always learn more about successful project management. Actually, it’s an indicator of your commitment to success and growth.
Fortunately, there are many online project manager courses that make it convenient for people to learn on their schedules. Learn from expert professionals about planning, communication, teamwork, and everything else we’ve covered here.