Project management is a constantly changing field; an ever-shifting market and a regular influx of new technologies means project managers need to stay caught up with industry trends to apply new learnings to their work. But there are some core principles that apply regardless of the project, technology or tooling used. Here are five best practices today’s project managers should apply in their role.
1. Design people-centric processes
As a general rule, project processes should first and foremost serve the people using them. We use process to make people’s jobs easier and more efficient, not to add more challenges and barriers. As a project manager, you should have a keen eye on process execution to ensure your processes enhance the way your team works. If you’re designing a process to fit your needs or make your life easier, you’ll inevitably encounter some resistance from your team.
By nature, project management requires flexibility; while the best projects start with thorough, thoughtful plans, those plans shift and evolve along with a project. The same is true on a macro-level with processes. Great project managers are able to sense when processes are broken and need to be rethought. Is your team disengaged at weekly meetings? Is JIRA neglected? Is documentation ignored? It might be time to revisit your process to develop procedures that work for your team.
To facilitate this process, consider engaging your team in a workshop. As a group, define your process as it exists now, identify pain points and work together to form new or better ways of working. Not only does this type of engagement help point out process weaknesses, but it can also create excitement and alignment around process – which isn’t always easy.
3. Write – and update – thorough documentation
Maintaining meticulous documentation can make or break a project. Sometimes a project begins with great documentation, but as the project progresses that documentation is ignored and becomes obsolete. This can cause major problems with team congruency down the road. Project managers should constantly be updating documentation to reflect project changes and important decisions.
4. Keep the big picture in mind
It can be easy to get stuck in the day-to-day minutiae when you’re deep in a project. Monotonous tasks like writing and reviewing JIRA tickets, holding daily scrums and updating documentation can cause you to forget the bigger picture – namely the objectives of the project. If you find yourself making decisions for the moment, not for the overall project, take a step back and review your project strategy documentation. What are the project goals? What are the project’s guiding principles? What is the best decision for the end users? Let these objectives guide even small decisions throughout the project.
Post-mortems are as essential to a successful project as kickoffs and daily scrums. These post-project meetings help teams learn, grow and refine their process together as a group. Post-mortems aren’t an interrogation or investigation into who’s to blame for project failures. Rather, they’re an opportunity to openly discuss missteps and prevent them in the future.
There are a few post-mortem frameworks you can implement, like the Three L’s, where each team member answers: In this project, what did you love, what did you lack and what did you learn? You can also considering having team members complete a digital survey before a post-mortem, giving them plenty of time to put their thoughts on paper in advance.
As you’re working to refine your project management skills, consider these best practices and how well you adhere to each. Observing them will enhance your process, your projects and the way you interact with your team. Contegix can also make your life as a project manager easy by hosting and supporting the tools you use everyday. Contact us for more information.