Tech leaders know there’s no shortage of project management systems, processes and programs out there—so many that a newcomer to the tech field can feel overwhelmed. While a new tech leader can use trial and error to eventually work through all the pros and cons of systems and processes and pin down what’s right for their organization, a smoother, faster path would be to turn to experienced tech leaders for their insights.
Members of Forbes Technology Council were asked to share the #topprojectmanagementtips new tech leaders should remember:
☆ Know that modern project management tools are much more collaborative
Project management is not what it used to be. Remember the old PMI? The principles are still useful, but today teams are empowered with agile delivery that’s iterative and client-centric. For these reasons, modern tools have way more collaboration in them. Think of Atlassian, Slack, Monday.com, Asana, etc.
☆ Automate tedious tasks
Small steps—such as reassigning a project or flagging it for review—can start to eat away at your productivity. With the right project management tools, the simple stuff is handled for you. Take robotic process automation, for example. By automating level-zero tasks with RPA, you will have more time to focus on the most important components of any given project.
☆ Realize that one size does not fit all
There is only one universal truth: One size does not fit all! It is key to know the team well and know what stakeholders’ needs, motivations and challenges are. Trying to make the team and stakeholders fit into existing project management tools and processes is the opposite of what you should be doing. Listen, observe and adapt your leadership strategy to bring out the best in your team.
☆ Look for easy information-sharing features
Information sharing and having a single reliable system of record where everyone can share up-to-date information are key. Make sure that when projects are delayed you are transparent about it as soon as possible.
☆ Assign each task a priority
You’ll always have more on your plate than you can finish—especially if you are working in a startup environment. If you randomly pick up tasks you’ll end up spending resources on something that will rarely be used while projects with a better ROI are kept waiting in the queue. As a bonus, the prioritizing process helps you understand on a broader level what impacts the bottom line.
☆ Remember that project management is all about people
Remember that project management is not about the project or the work—it’s about the people. Communicating effectively to ensure everyone understands the vision, identifies the right steps to take and coordinates their daily work is the most important part of an effective project. So focus first on the individuals who comprise the team, followed by the nuts and bolts of the project.
☆ Understand what your organization is capable of
Especially for tech projects, there are three main categories/styles of execution: waterfall, agile and continuous delivery (Kanban). It’s important to understand what your organization is capable of. Getting everyone on the same page on the culture and style you choose and ensuring they understand the expectations required to deliver in that PM method is most important.
☆ Set clear expectations
It is critical to communicate clearly with your colleagues when starting a new project. This allows for the project to flow smoothly since everybody involved will have a good understanding of expected outcomes, project stages and potential issues. In addition, you also need to be able to prioritize initiatives at different stages to ensure the project is on schedule to achieve the desired outcome.
☆ Go back to the basics
Successful project management focuses on mitigating risk, managing the budget, tracking the schedule and closing decisions and actions. This cuts down on the “noise” and keeps the project manager and the project team focused on what truly matters: delivering the project on time, on budget and with full scope.
☆ Don’t skip the retrospectives
A technique that is often skipped in project management is running a so-called retrospective meeting once a big project is over. This is an effective method to analyze and find better, more efficient ways to work with your team, approach tasks, make reviews and become more prepared for your next project.
☆ Stay in communication and be available
Stay in touch and up to date as much as possible. This is especially important in the age of remote work, when we might have difficulties reaching out and connecting. Being available as much as possible, as well as being able to sync with your tech team at any given time, will ensure that your project runs smoothly no matter the breaches in communication.
☆ Hold weekly meetings
Weekly meetings are absolutely essential to project management. You have to make sure everyone is on the same page if you want to ensure a smooth ride to the finish line. Assign your team tasks and get weekly updates so you can see where everyone stands and make adjustments as needed.
☆ Learn how to manage up
The most effective people are experts at continuous prioritization. New tech leaders need to learn how to manage up and, most essentially, constantly communicate their priorities to their manager. Successful people are rarely superhuman; instead, they’ve worked hard to develop a good sense of scope, scope creep and strategic prioritization.
☆ Maintain a single source of information
Make sure all your departments are sharing a single source of information. For example, if engineering is set to release on X date, marketing should be aware of this from reading the engineering briefs. Try not to have different documents containing the same information spread across various departments. Instead, create a project management wiki that all departments can access easily.
Source: Forbes Technology Council