4 Steps to Help Anyone Become a Better Project Manager

For many firms, the days of relying on an official project manager are gone. As teams learn to do more with less and become larger, more geographically dispersed and cross-functional, solid project management skills are a must for every professional leader.

Effective leadership often means the difference between success and failure for a project, with 60% of projects failing because of ineffective governance. That’s partly because managers are often chosen because of their proximity to a project, not because they have the appropriate skills to take it across the finish line. But it’s possible to manage complex projects seamlessly – and Workstorm can help you get there.

The Benefits of Effective Project Management

There’s a growing need for effective project management as teams become more geographically dispersed. According to a special analysis by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, there are 4.7 million U.S. remote workers today, or 3.4% of the population.

Beyond managing a remote workforce, many firms are juggling increasingly complex engagements and global clients as employees are pulled in all directions. According to Harvard Business Review, the average company loses more than 20% of its productive capacity to “organizational drag,” the structures and processes that consume valuable time and prevent people from getting things done. Effective project management can help firms: 

  • Meet client expectations in an increasingly competitive environment
  • Enhance resource planning and allocation 
  • Improve efficiency and standardize procedures
  • Increase profitability 

Project management is a powerful business tool that gives you repeatable processes, guidelines and techniques to help you manage your workforce and your work more effectively. It can help you deliver projects consistently, efficiently, on time and on budget. Project management is a skill, but fortunately it’s one you can learn – even without a formal certification. Here are the steps you can take to better manage your projects.

1. Start With – and Stick To – a Plan

The more complex the project is, the more critical it is to convene with your team members and develop a project plan. This can help keep projects on track, avoid scope creep, and make sure everyone is on the same page. This includes:

  •     Determining all major deliverables of the project
  •     Breaking them down further into the tasks associated with achieving the deliverable, the timeline for the tasks, and responsibilities
  •     Allocating resources to determine who is needed and in what capacity
  •     Solidifying the order and timing of the deliverables

Workstorm is uniquely built to provide firms with a project portfolio management view that provides project managers with visibility into an entire work in progress, including a shared to-do list, hierarchy of tasks and key performance indicators, such as on-time task completion rates. Members of a project team can view details or attachments associated with a task; discuss via comments and replies; accept, reject or delegate task assignments; and track time spent on an individual task or project. 

Our project management tools also seamlessly integrate with existing Workstorm collaboration features, providing efficient workflow from tasks and time tracking to tools like email, messaging, calendaring, file sharing and video conferencing.

2. Establish Open Communication With Your Team

It’s important for your team to understand the larger goal, immediate priorities, and their role in the success of the project, making sure everyone is motivated and working toward the end result.

With Workstorm, you can easily organize all team members into a shared Workspace for each project, making it simple for everyone to stay in the loop on project updates and share important documents and messages. You can also invite in external members, like vendors or clients, to consolidate communication in one spot while controlling what they see to keep sensitive details secure. 

3. Watch Your Budget

A project can quickly turn unprofitable due to scope creep, and firms that rely on billable hours need to make sure they’re tracking every minute to maximize project revenues. As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to watch project burndowns and billables to ensure projects stay on time and on budget.  

Workstorm’s task tracking feature syncs with time and billing applications, helping teams track time spent on a task and seamlessly allocate it to the correct billing code and client. The tool also includes best practice project management templates, as well as the ability to create your own templates, for standardizing processes for recurring formats such as cases, deals or budgets.

4. Make the Most of Technology

A growing number of firms are relying on tools to automate and simplify collaboration, and Workstorm’s fully integrated, customizable collaboration platform combines workflow efficiency with data security. By bringing collaboration into one centralized dashboard, users can access emails, files, videoconferencing and more in one space and reduce time spent toggling back and forth between tools. 

This fresh approach to technology not only supports effective project management, but also serves as an effective pipeline to attract and retain the best and brightest young talent. Those that prioritize modernization and innovation in the workplace will have a serious advantage — both in recruiting new talent and delivering work that meets client expectations and company goals. 

The Bottom Line

While it can be a challenge for professionals, developing an effective approach to project management can help you define your goals, improve efficiency, increase profitability and deliver exceptional client service. Project management isn’t easy, but figuring out how to do it successfully is crucial to the long-term health and success of your firm — and that’s something worth investing in.

Author: Nick Stech, COO