Experts across any industry will admit that there is no hard formula for success. Regardless of whether you’re an instructor, specialist, legal advisor or work in retail, there might be some industry specific procedures and rules to stick to, yet a few of the best practices across any industry include strategising, monitoring, reviewing and communicating.
Project management is no different. Most project managers will learn the basics at the very beginning as in other industries, including the best ways to plan and budget their projects, but after some time each individual finds their own specific techniques and ways to deal with projects, big or small, and it’s these techniques that make them successful or not. We like to think that our Magento project managers have that certain X factor that sets them apart from the rest, and happily, our clients confirm this regularly!
From the outside, managing a project appears to be so simple. You set tasks, due dates, a financial plan, item owners from within the business etc. and it seems you are done with planning the project at this point, but in reality, project management is not as simple and straightforward as it seems to be. Sometimes individuals are appointed to the project (from both client and agency side) who aren’t as qualified as needed, don’t understand what the project expects from them or they provide incorrect or partial information. Sometimes business priorities mean changes to timescales and therefore due dates can’t be met. Put all the more succinctly, project management is difficult, forever changing and requires thorough attention.
So what can organisations and project managers do to enhance the chances of the project being finished on time and to a financial plan? Here are the two most important aspects to consider for successful project management that I have depended on for years – the ones I can’t resist the urge to share!
The client needs to know as much about a project then the team does. The client is the one with the vision and, let’s be realistic, the gold!
So how do we proceed with the client positively? Communication is above all – the more we keep in contact, the better it is for the project. The project manager and the team will have a million things to ask about the project and the client always has questions about progress; so our project managers give the customer weekly progress reports along with requirements in order to ensure progress can be made. There may be issues that can be addressed rapidly through regular communication, meaning work doesn’t need to come to a standstill while we wait for a response.
While our teams work in the background progressing the tasks, the client fulfills the needs of the project by approving tasks, providing as much information and authorisation as required and characterising the project scope to the project manager and the team. The frequency of project reviews majorly depends on the complexity of the project, however we like to have weekly catch ups over the phone with our clients as a minimum. The less complex projects may have fewer reviews as these may not be necessary, whereas more complex projects will require frequent meetings which are essential for the progress of the project.
The Team (Of Course)
The next important aspect of your project management is obviously your development team, because they are the ones responsible for writing the code, however their role is not simply development. They will review the code, help to indicate any future requirements and give information, suggestions and guidance on the project progression from a technical point of view. As a project develops we always find there are queries from and suggestions for the client, so the project managers will loop in the team members to work with them to suggest a specific way forward at particular pit-stops, and to help the clients with their more complex queries. A successful team should have the capacity to overcome any barriers that may happen amid the project, if the project is managed efficiently and the team members work together.
It is also important for the project manager to get to know the team. When they get to know the team they are working with it takes them one step closer to making the project successful. This is because learning about each individual in the team gives them the ability to delegate tasks to the person who’s most capable of executing them correctly and quickly.
Finally, everybody cherishes getting positive feedback, even your clients. Make sure you inform your team members if a client compliments them and give them a little reward; even if it’s just an early finish or a box of chocolates. A little bit of recognition goes a long way and will encourage other team members to go the extra mile to please your clients also. Likewise if your team feel a client is particularly helpful and responsive, allowing them to progress the project without delay, it’s nice to drop them a note they can send upwards on their side. Positive feedback is always welcome and helps build a long term relationship. You may even get a client quote or testimonial for your website or marketing material down the line!
What Do You Think?
Of course, we believe the above aspects are the principal factors that you need to keep in mind when managing a project, however factors like good organisation, use of appropriate technologies, the team formation, clients expectations, workflow, budget and outcome means that every project is unique. The main thing to remember is that even though you may be considering a number of factors, if you keep communication at the forefront you’ll all be working collectively to build a project you can be proud of!
So what about you? Do you have your own project management secrets? Let me know in the comments section below!