PROJECT MANAGEMENT - HOW TO KEEP EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL
You've made a sale and the first goal is achieved - a major project is in the works. But that's just the beginning. The path to a successful project is often a complex process that involves various participants and brings many potential challenges. As demanding as it might be, the ultimate goal of a project is always the same - a satisfied client and a successfully finished project, within the deadlines and budgets that were defined in the beginning.
If we don't want our project to become a long-lasting and difficult process, we need to pay close attention to detailed preparation as well as structured implementation and monitoring. As a Project Manager, you are a leader and communicator throughout the process. You are the person who holds all the project concepts in their hands and ensures the success of the project while minimizing risks.
Given that this is a complex and often long-lasting process, of course, there are many challenges. What follows are four challenges we've encountered the most when managing projects, as well as suggestions on how to successfully master them.
◉ CHALLENGE NO. 1 Changes to the project schedule/plan.
Nothing slows down a project like an unexpected change of plan. If you create good plans with your clients, little will be left unknown, and your projects will normally be executed on time. However, despite careful planning, it is possible that changes to the project’s priorities are likely to be problematic for certain tasks, and they might create communication problems as well.
Suggestion: Keep your projects and team members organized.
There are many project management tools that can be used to organize project items, but also to update tasks quickly and keep track of everything that is happening. It is even more important to connect all project participants, to enable them to communicate in one place and to organize priorities so that everyone knows deadlines and essential items for finalizing the project.
◉ CHALLENGE NO. 2 Team members are not working towards the same goal.
You should prepare yourself in advance that different team members will have different ideas or opinions on how to approach a task. It is therefore important to focus on similarities and common goals.
Suggestion: Turn the team’s focus to a common goal.
It is advisable to communicate goals, criteria and priorities at initial meetings so that team members can see which goals are most important. When everyone understands what the common goals are, it is easier for them to react when there is a discussion or a misunderstanding. It is very important to update priorities and goals if changes occur and communicate them as soon as they occur.
◉ CHALLENGE NO. 3 Unsatisfied team members.
The main prerequisite for a job well-done is that your team members are motivated to do the job well. The vast majority will likely be exactly like that, but it’s enough for one part of the project to not be done in line with expectations for the project to be set back. While delegating work for your project, don’t assume that your team members will be motivated to do a great job because it’s their business. Different people are motivated by different things, it’s as simple as that.
Suggestion: You need to know what motivates your team.
Instead of assuming, find out exactly what motivates every person in your team. You need to understand that people are different and do not have the same motivators. In addition, everyone likes to feel appreciated and taken care of – in terms of education, specialization, certification, etc. This also helps them to do their job better. And ultimately, do not just criticize when something is wrong – it is very important to provide positive feedback for a job well-done.
◉ CHALLENGE NO. 4 Team members see things in a different light.
Being chosen as the team leader means that people are confident that you will lead the project with quality, respect deadlines and ensure that the final result is in accordance with what was agreed upon. Do not forget to give the same respect to your team members. Sometimes people face problems and resolve them in a different way from you. Learn to appreciate each other’s differences and learn from them.
Suggestion: Identify, use, and respect the talents of your team.
Having a clear vision and direction for a project is a very important part of managing a team and you must be sure that all those parts are aligned. But also, when delegating tasks and defining priorities, let your team work independently. Organized daily/weekly meetings or briefings to check progress and whether deadlines are being met, as well as project goals fulfilled.
Given that project management is quite challenging and complex, it is essential to ensure quality and constructive teamwork. That is why, as a leader, you should always keep in mind your original role as a communicator and organizer – these are qualities that your team will appreciate and respect. Ultimately, you will have a successful team, well-finished projects and satisfied customers.
Ivana Škegro, Consultant, HSM informatika