Most jobs beyond a certain level demand project management skills. You will need to organize people, money and deadlines to achieve the organisational objectives and the personal KPIs that you have been set. It may be that this is only an element of what you do, or it may be that you’re considering a career as a project manager. Either way, there aren’t many people in the working world who couldn’t benefit from understanding the basics of how to bring a project in on time and on budget. Indeed, project management is a valuable skill to be able to sell you in to employers and for some people it can be a rewarding career path. Once you know how to create a project management plan you can forecast with much more accuracy and lead a team with confidence. So if you haven’t done much project management before, where do you begin?
Get Some Training
There are lots of resources out there for you to learn the basics quickly. Whether it’s hopping on YouTube to see videos about project management or finding relevant articles, even studying and adapting previous project plans that may have been created by your organisation, there are a number of ways to build your knowledge. If you feel you could benefit from more formal training, a provider like STL Learning can offer you a structured programme to help you learn all the key skills. In many cases, your employer made provide or pay for training as it will want good project managers in place. You could make it part of your yearly objectives as well.
Map Out Stakeholders
The first and most important step is to produce a stakeholder map. Put simply, this is a representation of everyone who has a stake in the project you’re undertaking, and depending on the work, it could span political figures, senior management in your company, the general public, suppliers or the press. Everyone who is affected by the end result of what you are doing should be included. Having this allows you to develop a communications plan to keep everyone in the loop and consult any relevant parties about developments along the way. What are their interests? What do they need to know from you? When should you release information? If your company has a marketing or PR department make sure to brief them from the beginning as they will know the best strategy to use. Discuss the needs and expectations of your different stakeholder groups. You can then create a scoping document. This maps out the expectations and deliverables as well as the budget you’ll have to work with and is vital for brokering agreement between parties with different aims and keeping the project in track, as well as helping you to assess the success of the project once completed.
Set Your Project Goals
The scoping document should make it clear what goals the project needs to deliver on. Once you have a clear idea of what these might be, you can rank them in order of importance. With overarching goals in place, it is them possible to break them down into milestones that you will need to hit along the way. This information shapes your project tracker and gives you an outline for the whole venture. Remember to make them SMART goals so that you can be sure they will be achieved. Depending on the size of the project, at this point it may be a good idea to divide up responsibilities and set individual goals for members of the project team.
Setting Up A Project Tracker
The next step is to translate these milestones into steps for the project. These can be tracked in many different ways. Some people prefer to make a Gantt Chart that shows a timeline of events and a status by each activity. Or you may want to use cloud based project management software to keep things in check. A tool like Basecamp has a lot of handy features for measuring progress. Or, if your business has access to Microsoft 365 you could use the Planner tool to allocate tasks to staff and give you an overview of status. If you don’t use it, there are alternatives such as Slack they allow teams to collaborate remotely and track the project and all it’s associated tasks. Make sure that you diarise all the deadlines you have along the way so you can set reminders. You will also want to produce a project report on a regular basis so that you can keep your stakeholders updated on where everything stands and answer any concerns they might have. With a little practice, you’ll soon be managing projects like a pro!