How to lead a project successfully
Throughout my career I have had to take on heading up numerous projects, especially focused around the growth and development of business. Knowing how to cultivate and nurture a project so that it achieves all the aims you want requires certain characteristics, with leadership and people skills playing an absolutely vital role in success. It’s also important to know where to start so that you begin on the right foot, and maintain a forward drive for the duration of the task.
Here is my advice on how to get your teeth stuck in to leading a project, and how you can be successful doing so.
How to manage a project well
1) Define objectives. It’s imperative to ensure that every colleague working on the project knows what the end goal is and what is expected. The project requirements must be defined and understood right from the very beginning. One handy way to do this is to create a project definition document, which basically lists the dimensions of the project that can then be used as a reference point by everyone. Topics that would feature on this document include:
- Project overview
- Estimated cost and duration
- Project scope
- Who will work on the project
- Assumptions and risk factors
- How to approach the project
2) Develop a well thought out plan. It can be daunting when you first start out with a project and it seems like there is so much that needs to be done. A good way to tackle this is to break down the project into smaller, more manageable tasks and then assign each section to a team member, so everyone knows what they need to be doing. You should also include clear milestones, to help assess whether the project is on track for success or whether aspects need to be fine tuned or changed. Another factor to consider in your plan is the estimated man hours and costs.
3) Create a communication schedule. It is important that you make sure you are accessible and available for all of your team, so that you can be kept up to date on any progress developments as well as kept abreast of any issues that may crop up. Penciling in time for either a monthly, weekly or daily meeting is also a brilliant idea and keeps everyone focused and on track to hit the end goals.
4) Measure progress frequently. Keeping tabs on all aspects of the project and monitoring how it is developing is essential in making sure that you complete it on time, within budget and so that it meets expectations. Reviewing is also another tool you can use to highlight and tackle problems.
Key attributes for a prominent project manager
Perceptive: You should be able to anticipate and head off any problems or issues that could arise and potentially jeopardise your deadlines, budget or project success.
Organised: Being able to prioritise when faced with a list of equally important and competing responsibilities is a vital skill, as is the ability to see the bigger picture and analyse how you will get there. You should also be aware of what doesn’t need to be included in the project, understanding the limitations, boundaries and scope of what you want to achieve. This will help you plan better.
Natural leader: No matter how bumpy the ride in getting your project completed, you must still be able to motivate your workers and inspire confidence within your team. As a leader, you will also make decisions based on team feedback; be the biggest supporter of the project and be prepared to remove any obstacles that may hold up progress.
Good communicator: For tasks to progress promptly and successfully, you need to be able to communicate well with your team to discuss all aspects and angles of the project. You need to be able to utilise emails as well as face to face meetings (whether these are one to one or group meetings) to make sure every colleague is on the same page and know what their role is. Trusting and believing in your team is key, so make sure you have the right people doing the right tasks and that you receive their input.
Pragmatic: Don’t over-analyse every step before you take it or you won’t make any progress. Get the job done with the resources you have available to you, providing all the resources and documentation possible.
Empathetic: As a team manager, you rely on your employees for overall project success. If you have understanding of their motives and viewpoints then you are naturally better placed to tackle any concerns or problems they may raise. You should also consider the opportunities this project could give certain staff members, thinking about related training and knowledge that could also be provided over the duration of the task.
A good project manager will:
- Meet goals
- Keep standards high
- Manage within the allotted time
- Keep expenses within budget
- Adhere to the plan and frame work
- Procure relevant materials
- Meet set milestones
[testimonial name=”By Grant Finn” who=”CEO of Total Assist Group” imagelinks=”http://totalassist.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Grant125.jpg” vertical=”no”]”I have worked tirelessly at Total Assist Group for over 10 years now. I have overall responsibility for executing the continuous growth strategy of the company.”[/testimonial]