Companies of all sizes should know the importance of proper project management. As C-level executives become busier than ever and deal with the many responsibilities of leadership, funding, and keeping investors happy, they simply do not have the energy or space to handle projects on a working level. However, they do hire managers for a range of tasks and get the job done.
The ultimate goal of a dedicated manager is to oversee a project from the very beginning to the end. Managers measure and identify the right requirements, establish clear goals, and ultimately help the business succeed.
“Resources” is a broad term. This can include anything from the number of people working on a project to the set of tools you use to complete it. Ideally, project managers will already know which of the company resources are at their disposal and how to use them. When resource management is done the right way, nothing is ever wasted.
Managers should also know not to “overspend” on small projects. For instance, if a team spends company overtime attempting to complete an unimportant task; this ends up being wasteful in a variety of ways. They guide not only their own resources but an employee’s resources as well. Here are just a few other examples of areas that suffer:
- Financial resources, such as cash
- Software, hardware, or any technical tools needed
- Equipment or machinery
- Property, such as a land, or a building site
If a team member needs additional help, resources, or does not know how to complete a task on their list, it is the manager’s responsibility to provide what they need. For instance, a workspace, computer, and general office supplies.
Alternately, managers should have enough experience to know what puts a project at risk. So if something goes awry, managers know how to manage expectations and change timelines and resources accordingly. This allows them to anticipate potential issues before they ever occur. This is seen as a proactive process rather than a reactive one. The difference is that you’re preventing fires, not constantly putting them out.
It’s not just the actual project that needs overseeing. Higher level managers keep people and teams united and focused on the same goals. This is because conflict between individuals can truly kill productivity. Those with previous managerial experience, no matter the industry, will tell you that the most effective ‘best practices’ will include communication between team members as well as clear milestones and defined roles.
Great managers know how to encourage others to collaborate, share, and engage in teamwork. This is a cornerstone of making sure everyone is on the same page. However, one of the most difficult aspects of being a project manager has to do with keeping people accountable. When a task is not completed on time, or an employee is constantly showing up late, this may negatively affect other individuals’ tasks, perhaps derailing the project altogether. And when a project fails, the manager must accept full responsibility.
A true leader also provides a vision for every team member. If employees work on tasks without knowing anything about the “big picture”, there’s little to no motivation for them to do their best.
Give them the right information on why they are doing the work to give them better focus, as well as excitement for its successful completion. Along those lines, managers can offer incentives for completing work before the deadline. Gift cards from a local restaurant, for instance, is an excellent way to show appreciation.
Even if managers are not doing much of the actual legwork themselves, they should still be familiar with the many talking points of a project. Communication is key here. Managers must be able to update other key players about resources, budgets, the timeline, and more. Those involved could include:
- C-level Executives
- Human Resources (HR)
- And Others
Since there are many individuals involved, it’s best to have managers be the assigned “point” person so there is no confusion. In fact, it’s a common practice for those on this list to “check in” to ensure the company’s goals are being met. And while they don’t always need every detail, it’s still necessary to provide a thorough rundown when needed.
Client managing is one of the most vital parts of the lifecycle of a project. Managers can set the right expectations with regular phone calls, meetings, or email so they stay up to date.
Mostly clients need to know what exactly is being delivered, when it will be delivered, and all of the different costs involved. Since all businesses are different, keep a running list of items clients want to discuss and make it a point to talk about each one during a dedicated time together.
Many people see managers as middlemen, and employees can save a lot of time by having the right managers in place to execute daily functioning. For instance, if a stakeholder had a question about a software program, they should not have to contact the developer coding it. The manager should be able to address it. This way, the developer can continue work uninterrupted.
Sometimes clients will refocus a project and unexpected changes will occur. Unfortunately, this can happen at any point in a working timeline. When this does happen, however, a manager should be able to take a step back and refocus the list of priorities. After discussing the changes with the client and team, they can map out a new timeline with expected delivery dates. If a team is stressed out, the manager needs to be able to reassess resources as well so that no one is overworked.
The Necessity of Accurate Reports
When it comes to numbers, clients do not appreciate vagueness. Reporting is another aspect of a project manager’s job. Reports help track progress and they give special insights as to what tasks require the most amount of time and resources. This information is also useful for when a team completes a similar project later on.
Finally, after everything is considered complete, a project manager does not necessarily deliver it automatically to the client. Sometimes they must act as a quality assurance agent to ensure it is actually deliverable in its entirety, and nothing was rushed or remains incomplete.