5 Tips to Better Project Management

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Project Management is a vital skill as important as sales, customer service and accounting.

What I’ve found, is that most people understand the basic principles of Project Management but fail in situations where the rules need to be slightly amended or when decisions need to be made that fall outside of an existing framework.

Here are 5 tips that will quickly increase your effectiveness as a Project Manager:

1) Identify and clarify your client’s needs

Often as a Project Manager, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day operational activities and lose sight of what the client wants. By constantly checking in with the client to ensure that you are on budget, scope and timeline, you’ll give your client peace of mind. The only caveat here is that clients can also be extremely unreasonable at times. Constant communication generally alleviates these problems and can usually resolve any concerns the client may have.

2) Stand up for yourself

Although the client is typically the person who has the most at stake in a project, you have to make sure they understand that your decisions and process are for the best interest of the project. Too often, Project Managers will allow their clients to increase the scope of the project (Scope Creep) or expect deliverables far ahead of pre-determined deadlines without understanding the bigger issues that come with this. Clients often lose sight of the original goal and expect the world to be delivered at a moment’s notice. This is highly ineffective and can turn into a snowball effect if you let it. Stand up to your client and be realistic with their expectations. This will create boundaries for yourself and the project deliverables.

3) Under promise and over deliver

This one is common sense. Set realistic exceptions for your clients so they understand what they are getting and when they are getting it. Too often Project Managers don’t account for the inevitable obstacles that didn’t show up in the original plan and end up having to go to their clients with bad news. Of course it’s impossible to plan for every situation that arises but add in extra time or budget so that you don’t get caught in an uncomfortable situation.

4) Don’t be afraid to propose a new solution at the 11th hour

Sometimes you’ll work on a project for awhile and realize that the original solution that was proposed doesn’t actually serve the objectives as effectively as expected. Although it can be cumbersome to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation, a new solution can often generate a better result in the end. I’ve found that often, a better solution is just a few steps ahead but in order to reach it, you have to be in the project first.

5) Build a good relationship with your client

Beyond just delivering good service, having a strong relationship with your client can alleviate headaches down the road. You want your client to trust you and back your decisions. And when things go wrong, you want them to feel that they can depend on you to fix the problem without worrying about it. Building a good relationship with your client is a long process but it pays dividends down the road. Simple gestures that build a good rapport with your customers help a lot in terms of building that trust. And of course your results and reputation should speak for themselves.

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5 comments

  1. All very good points, especially the part about building a good relationship with your clients. In my experience, the better you know your clients, the easier it is to predict what they want to see and to produce it. Some clients I’ve worked with have been more traditional in their outlook, while others were more experimental and willing to consider other options.

    But if you really know your clients, you can more easily produce what they want to see the first time, reducing the need for time-consuming revisions. This type of relationship develops over time.

  2. Hi Matt! Powerful points as always, like your work here.

    Point number 4 is the hardest part, I think. Because sometimes as the project manager we may have a bias that what we have been doing suppose to have some value and should not be re-evaluated to a step before. That it might be the other side’s fault for not understanding what we have been through so far. For the client team, they might be also affected morally because they might feel what have been done is a waste.

    I am particularly interested in the picture you use, it explains the steps and the main activities / key skills a project manager shall have in running a project with the client.

    Do you mind giving me a reference to deepen my understanding about project management? Something fundamental I could read through to ensure I am actually in the right path during my project management with my client.

    Thanks before!

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