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Mastering Project Management

9 Strategies for Mastering Project Management — Even When You’re a Newbie

Even if you don’t have professionals on staff who are explicitly defined as project managers, your organization inevitably requires project management. But solid mastering project management skills are more difficult to come by than we might think. While this is infused in every initiative and task, not everyone is equipped with the competencies to bring a project to fruition. Perhaps this is why 70% of projects fail.

In order to make progress, you must have the skills and project management tools necessary for completing the job at hand. Even if you’re new to mastering project management, these nine strategies will allow you and your team to cross the finish line.

1. Collaborate on requirements.

The project management process begins with requirements. These are essentially the “must-haves” for your project, the qualities your service, project, or initiative must attain to be declared complete. While there may be overlap between requirements and goals, they are not one and the same — goals describe the purpose behind the project, while requirements are more specific, illustrating the end result itself. 

In the beginning, work with stakeholders to establish requirements. As the project manager, you should also get input from team members to ensure that they are measurable and achievable.

2. Develop KPIs.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable metrics that allow you to evaluate progress and results. Again, these are related to requirements but are not identical to them. Establishing KPIs will equip you with the tools to assess how your project is going and will give you concrete, numerical evidence as to how you have performed overall. 

Many different types of organizations and departments use KPIs to better understand how their efforts are paying off. They are, ultimately, the bedrock of your very successful and a way of determining whether or not you are achieving your objectives in both the long- and short-term.

3. Hire for soft skills and hard skills.

Of course, when you’re hiring for talent, you look at technical skills, also known as hard skills. These are the competencies that will ensure that your team members are well-qualified to do the jobs with which they’re tasked. But it’s important to pay attention to soft skills, too. 

Soft skills are qualities like collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. These skills are pivotal for completing projects successfully. Any mastering project manager must have them, but they’re not the only ones — their team members must have them, too. That’s why you should be cognizant of these skills when you’re hiring employees.

4. Leverage project management software.

Project management software has become an extraordinarily useful tool for all organizations. Practically anyone can use it, project manager, or not, and certain industries even have specialized software for particular needs and purposes. While different brands have different features, practically all tools offer:

  • The ability to assign tasks and responsibilities
  • Visualizations, giving you an overview of your project
  • Project phases and categories
  • Due dates and benchmarks
  • File sharing
  • Dashboards

Essentially, these tools serve as a repository for your important project information, one that all team members can access.

5. Familiarize yourself with common project management methodologies.

Agile. Scrum. Waterfall. Kanban. Lean. These are all common mastering project management methodologies — and ones you should know. Many businesses and organizations have a preferred project management methodology. Agile, for example, is mainstream for many software development companies these days. But any organization in any industry should specify a certain methodology, dictating their practices, tools, processes, and more, ensuring everyone is on the same page. As the project manager, you should determine which one is best for your needs.

6. Document everything.

Documentation is critical not just for your current efforts but to guide future projects, too. Ensure you’re keeping clear records of your approaches, methodologies, roles, results, and more. This documentation will serve as a “how-to” for your team as you embark on additional projects.

Make sure you keep records of both successes and failures. They will both serve you well in the future, and you can learn from your wins and mistakes alike.

7. Assess results.

Your project is not over once your team has theoretically completed all the tasks associated with it. You must assess the results. Examine the information you have available — analytics, reports, project management software dashboards and visualizations, and any other data — to evaluate what you did well and how you can improve. Were there problems with the process? Did team members collaborate effectively? What could be even better? Do the results reflect your efforts? This will help you hone your mastering project management approach for later initiatives.

8. Welcome feedback.

A great project manager takes into account the perspectives of others involved. At the culmination of each project, ask stakeholders and team members for feedback: their opinions about how the team performed and how they each contributed individually, what they think went well and could be improved, how the tools they used aided the process, what they would do differently next time, and whether the results reflected the overall and individual efforts.

9. Keep learning.

The project you’re working on now is not going to be the last one you tackle. Both professionally and personally, you will see challenges and tasks in your future. In order to hone your project management skills, it’s critical to be open to learning opportunities and actively pursue them. 

If you’re serious about a career in project management, consider PM certifications, such as those offered by the Project Management Institute. This will not only allow you to gain competencies in the field, but it will also enable you to advance in your career. 

Even if project management is only part of your job, it’s important to find ways to learn and improve your skills. Take lessons from every initiative you work on, considering how you performed and what you can do differently. Hone your systems. Look online for courses to take that are related to mastering project management. Together, these efforts will allow you to achieve more professionally and advance your organization, setting you up to achieve your goals.

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