How well you manage your project can determine its success or failure, so it isn't a responsibility that should be taken lightly. If you want to finish your job as efficiently as possible, you need to be organized and have a solid plan to rely on.
But what are some of the best ways to manage your projects successfully? Here are my top 8 project management techniques.
1. Risk assessment and management
Risk assessment is vital for a successful project and the most successful project managers always know just what they're getting into. They're aware of all the potential problems they might face later on, which means they can have some contingencies in place.
Risk assessment is crucial because it gives you a clear idea about any potential problems and their solutions. Sometimes, while conducting a risk assessment, managers find that their project might be beyond their current capabilities.
A thorough risk assessment will also allow you to decide what an acceptable risk is for you. For example, if you get a project that requires constructing a commercial space in an area notorious for bad weather, you might want to do an assessment to see just how many problems are likely to emerge.
If you feel that the project is within your capabilities, you need to come up with a plan to manage the problems involved. At this stage, you should register, rank, assign, avoid or transfer risks to make things easier for you in the future.
2. Planning the budget
Money makes the world go round and proper management of this resource is very important. We see many examples of project managers mishandling money and going over the budget. Sometimes it can be unavoidable and you might go over despite your efforts to prevent it. However, staying within the assigned budget is necessary in order to avoid complications down the line. Many managers don't learn how to handle project money and end up developing bad habits early on in their career.
If you go over your stipulated budget on most of the projects you work on, your reputation might take a hit. Having a streamlined and detailed plan for your money will ensure that all your resources are properly divided. You'll also become aware of just how much you have to work with, and plan for contingencies accordingly.
Scheduling is perhaps the most difficult task for a manager. You have only a fixed number of days to finish the project and you need to utilise your time effectively. For this purpose, you need to understand the habits and capabilities of your team, and identify high performers who will be able to get their work done quickly.
You should also identify who your quality performers are – people who might work slowly but would deliver excellent quality work. Once you get a better understanding of your team, you can assign various tasks accordingly.
Keeping track of the scheduling is also very important. There are several tools available that would help you organize your team properly and allow you to keep an eye on the functioning and ensure it's on track.
It is important to have some breathing room when you take up a project. Things might not always go according to plan, and unexpected delays and expenditures might easily happen. When you discuss the project with your clients and stakeholders, give yourself plenty of wriggle room for unexpected problems.
Sometimes managers can make unwise promises just to stay ahead of the competition or to impress the senior management. However, doing that might do more harm than good down the line. Always ensure that you have breathing room, both time and money-wise. This way, you won't have to bother your superiors or your client every time a problem pops up.
5. Work Breakdown Structure
This is one of the most important aspects of project management. After all, you can't eat an entire sandwich in one bite. Breaking a project down into smaller, more manageable tasks is an old trick.
For example, if you're building a website for a business, you can create different teams to handle different aspects of the project. You can assign a team to take care of the coding, another to take care of the design, and someone else to handle the content.
In small projects, this system is very easy to understand and implement. However, on big projects you'll need time and patience to carefully break down the project structure and assign the tasks to the right person.
6. Cost Breakdown Structure
As I mentioned earlier, managing your budget is vital for the success of a project. To do that, you need to allocate your resources properly. You need to list every item or product that is needed in order to complete the project, and note down how much each of them costs.
For example, if you're renovating an old building, you'll need to buy several different materials and tools. Listing all of them down and making a note of how much they cost can give you a detailed estimate of the expected total cost. This would help you set a proper budget and also direct the resources.
7. Critical Path Analysis
As with everything else, it's very easy to get lost in the nitty-gritty of things and overlook the larger picture. The Critical Path Analysis allows you to keep track of the entire project as it progresses.
It is essentially a time management tool that shows you how much time you have to complete the project and where you stand at any given moment. It arranges all your tasks in a sequence, allowing you to finish your project in a timely manner.
Whether it's a short or a longer project, setting milestones can be a great way to motivate your team and push them to work towards their goals more effectively. If you need some help on how to get started and how to create efficient milestones for your project, have a look at this article from Smartsheet.
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