Project management is an area that requires continuous development. Industry trends are developing so rapidly that to be effective, you need to be able to track and adapt. If some time ago knowledge from the field of project management was needed only for those who manage large projects, today this industry has undergone many transformations.
Project vision skills are cultivated from an early age, and even the teaching approach in schools is reduced to a project system. If students are already required from the first grades to be able to present and defend their activities in a project format, can we say that adults do not need this knowledge?
Who needs project management skills first of all?
Above all, we are talking about such specialists as:
- Managers and project leaders. It is not necessary to dwell on this issue in too much detail, since the evidence is indicated here. Go ahead.
- Leaders and chairmen of non-governmental organizations. It is not a secret that public organizations function most successfully when they have grants. To receive financial assistance within the framework of a grant, you need to be able to describe the vision of your project and its prospects in the application. In this case, the so-called “romantic dreams” of success and useful work will not pass. Grant applications undergo a thorough analysis and peer review. This means that the author must have a systematic and consistent vision of how he will bring the idea to life. Moreover, donor organizations usually check the targeted use of funds and the effective achievement of the goals that have been declared.
- Experts who develop their public image in the format of a personal brand. To gain public recognition, it is not enough just to advertise your activities beautifully. You need to be able to implement initiatives that are useful for society from start to finish. And you can do nothing without knowledge of project management in this regard.
Such knowledge makes it possible to plan better, systematize your endeavors and understand how they can be directed towards something useful and profitable. Therefore, the tips that are offered below will be useful to many people.
Tip 1: start planning from the end
According to the survey, 47% of companies use project management software which has a positive impact on the accuracy of project cost estimates on the planning stage. If you want to optimize your planning process, enterprise project management software might help. It would be useful not only to define project scope and set project goals, objectives, and milestones. The software would be also useful for planning project tasks and deadlines and outlining strategic project KPIs.
Project management expert Joe Griffin emphasizes that all successful projects have a certain starting and ending point. He makes an analogy with a marathon runner who stays true to his goal because he constantly thinks about it and focuses his attention on it. Also, focusing on the goal helps to protect yourself from unnecessary distractions during the project implementation. If a goal motivates, it becomes desirable. This means that all the necessary resources are spent on its implementation.
Tip 2: better understand your purpose
There are situations when the goal of the project seems to be there, but it does not bring a feeling of joy, drive and excitement that would motivate you to achieve it. In this case, it is worth taking a closer look at the strategic issues. Perhaps it makes sense to change the entire strategic course so that the project really becomes more valuable and aimed at realizing a useful mission.
There are other situations when understanding the goal saves from the negative influence of others with attempts to change the strategic course of the project. If a leader focuses on the end task, he has much more resilience when it comes to the influence of potential ill-wishers.
Probably, most successful project managers would agree that sometimes you need to show persistence and the ability to say “no” to achieve the final task. On the one hand, this is obvious. But on the other hand, in practice, not everything is so simple.
Sometimes in the intermediate stages of the project implementation, you can notice an impact that even seems to be positive. For example, someone suggests deviating from a strategic course in order to gain tactical benefits and “not miss a promising opportunity.”
And when deeper analysis begins, it turns out that a small tactical gain will lead to a strategic loss. The sequence in the work on the project is violated – and, as a result, the “domino principle” is triggered. Everything collapses due to the fact that unwanted changes were made to one of the elements of the system.
As you can see, understanding the goal and focusing on it is much more important in terms of implementing the strategic course of the project than it might seem at first sight.
Tip 3: be attentive and judicious
When project managers or other project-related professionals are just starting to take their first steps, they are often overconfident. And this is harmful. Of course, the first successes in a serious business can turn your head. This is more of a trend than an exception. But it is worth remembering that a person who is too enthusiastic and in a state of euphoria loses concentration and judgment. Here are some simple guidelines that project managers sometimes forget early in their careers. So:
- Whatever your success, you should not rely on yourself for everything. Keep in touch with more experienced industry professionals, and take advice on critical issues. No one will prevent you from making the decision that appeals to you the most. But often an outside perspective allows you to see additional opportunities in time, or, conversely, to notice the pitfalls and risks before they lead to losses.
- Remember: there must be a balance between work, family, leisure and other significant areas in real life. At first, success in project activities inspires. I want to spend more and more time doing what I love. But if you do not give yourself rest, a state of constant fatigue is formed according to the cumulative principle. The person begins to feel emotional burnout. Sometimes it even leads to asthenia or depression. If we are talking about a family person, problems in the family may begin. It is better to gradually go towards professional goals and achieve confident results than to lose all strength at the start, and then think about how to get in good shape.
- Be careful of laudatory and critical feedback about your project. It is best to trust the praise and criticism of those people who are experts in the industry, but, at the same time, are not related to the project. You will hear an unbiased opinion from them. At first glance, this approach might seem to cultivate unwarranted vigilance. But not all project managers at the start of their work have enough systemic vision to clearly know which feedback is worth attention and which is not.
If you cultivate attentiveness in all of the above areas, this will not only increase the success rate of projects but also allow you to get more pleasure from them.
Tip 4: manage risk
The phrase “risk management” sounds much simpler than it is implemented in practice. And this is not strange, because both in business and in non-commercial projects there are many factors of the external world that influence, but do not depend on our will. However, it is important to try to predict not only the desired results but also to think over contingency strategies for responding if things go wrong.
Optimism is good, but in project activities, you need to be able to show objectivity.
Tip 5: get rid of perfectionism
If you notice perfectionism in yourself, it is worth learning how to cope with this quality. The point is that striving for perfection only slows down project work. Ideality, as such, is impossible in any work, so it is important to learn to be content with just a good enough result.
If this is difficult to do, then you should work out criteria for evaluating yourself, according to which the completed project is good enough. This will allow you to protect yourself from perception, in which positive results are leveled that do not reach the conditional ideal.
As a matter of principle, it is always worth remembering: perfectionism is not safe from a psychological point of view. The constant pursuit of a fictitious standard, the bar of which is being set pretty high every time, leads to exhaustion and dissatisfaction with oneself. Projects are carried out formally, but they lose their semantic component.
Tip 6: avoid working on multiple tasks in parallel
When we grab onto everything at once, it only seems that the result will be achieved faster. In fact, attention is wasted, and so is labor. Concurrent involvement in several projects dissipates concentration and prevents you from doing anything fully. Therefore, it is worthwhile to evenly distribute the load and work on different projects in stages.
Tip 7: don’t overwork
At the moments when the planned project deadline is approaching, this wish sounds more like an unrealistic slogan than a real principle of activity. Indeed, there are situations when you need to gather strength and complete what the whole team has been working on for a long time.
But for many project managers, working to the point of overwork is not an exceptional thing, but a constant norm. Do not forget: this attitude towards your health in the long term is fraught with a lot of negative consequences and risks.
Tip 8: learn constantly
The modern world is very dynamic. New opportunities constantly appear in it, approaches to project management are being improved. Therefore, it is worth monitoring the news of your field regularly to find out what promising developments have appeared in it.
Many of these recommendations seem straightforward. However, following them will save you from burnout and will allow you to implement your project activities more efficiently.