Project Manager 101

You might be asking yourself “what is project management” and “is it necessary?”. Project Management deals with forming a goal, creating a way to achieve the goal, and making sure a team can carry out the goal. A project manager is necessary! There are six reasons that project management matters and his worth looking into.

1. Coordinate Goals

Project Management is a great skill in making sure that the goals of the company match the project. ROI (return on investment) is very important to a company and the project manager. Sometimes the ideas for a project may not give the ROI the company envisions. So, it is the responsibility of the project manager to align the project with the company’s goals.

2. Leadership

Project Management is much trickier than it sounds. Being a manager means having to work with multiple teams, deadlines, and budgets. Project managers should talk to clients to understand the project scope and then relay the information to internal teams. Project Management makes sure each piece matches each other and that the final project looks cohesive. Working with 6-8 people with different functions is challenging, but a great PM can make it look easy.

3. Budgets

Companies tend to be concerned about the bottom line. They want something done, but they can only afford to spend a certain amount on it. That is where project management comes in. A project manager can tell you how much a project will cost and be able to offer solutions to keep in the budget proposed.

4. Experience

A project manager works solely with projects and teams, but that doesn’t mean they have experience. If you hire one to complete your company’s project do some research to make sure he or she knows what they’re doing. Your company will benefit from the project manager’s experience.

5. Risk Management

A good project manager will deliver your project on time and within budget because they are also familiar with risk management. Risk management is being able to come up with a contingency plan because there are times when no matter how hard you try, something will try to go wrong. Project managers are experts in keeping everything under control.

6. Quality

This is a very important reason to have a project manager. A project manager needs to keep clients and will, therefore, make sure all their work is of the highest quality. The project should be watched and treated carefully for customer satisfaction.

What Makes a Good Project Manager?

Project managers are some of the most talented people in the workplace. From team management to budgeting, and schedules, PMs handle their workloads with ease. If you want to be a successful PM or are wondering what it takes to work for a project management firm, look no further! Here are four traits of a “successful” project manager.

1. Time Management

You need someone to create a plan and help organize resources to achieve it, enter project manager. If the plan changes a PM is there to update the plan and organize the chaos. The project manager maintains the schedule and helps all resources and stakeholders to meet deadlines. In addition, they help stakeholders understand the implications of any missed or moved deadlines. This is especially important if the project manager is there for marketing services. Trends are always changing and the project manager has to keep up to make sure the client’s goals are met.

2. Controlling Costs

Project managers monitor budgets to ensure that the company is staying profitable. They also monitor the project to make sure the project is not going over the estimate. Hours worked by internal team members as well as external costs (freelance or manufacturing) are monitored to ensure they are staying on budget. Again, if the scope of a project changes or the budget needs change, the project manager is there to communicate the changes, the reasons, and to help mitigate costs.

3. Quality Assurance

Even though project managers might not be performing any of the work on a project, quality is still one of their responsibilities. Holding resources accountable to process and procedure as well as creating check-ins and milestones helps to ensure a project is done error-free and meets the quality standards of the client and/or company. Project managers for creative services, for example, have to make sure the work is high quality. A blurry graphic design or misspelled logo can keep a client from coming back with more work.

3: People Skills

Understanding people is two-fold. A PM must have emotional intelligence. In other words, a project manager must be able to read the room or one person. Emotional intelligence helps keep project managers in touch with their team. It also assists in handling problems as they occur to keep a team running like a well-oiled machine. Project managers must also understand the customer. The better a PM must understand a client’s vision the more capable he/she will be at bringing the vision to life.

4: Flexible

Flexibility should always be part of a project management firm or PM toolkit. Because let’s face it, change is inevitable and no two projects are alike. Flexibility allows project managers to anticipate bottlenecks and plan for change. It also helps PMs to better manage their team because it builds trust and commitment.

5: Accurate Time Tracking

It is imperative, project managers know where their team’s and their own time is going. Time tracking insights can be an eye-opener for PMs and can make or a break a project. Time tracking allows PMs to determine the following:

  • How much time is being spent on activities
  • Current or potential bottlenecks
  • If there are sufficient resources
  • Time estimates for similar projects
  • Efficiency levels (cost and productivity)
  • Project Prioritization

6: Budget Conscious

The project budget is the approved cost for all activities associated with a project. There are two very important reasons why a PM must stay within budget. One, it helps determine if the project is progressing in the right direction. For example, if the approved budget will run out before the project ends a PM will need to take action. Two, the budget dictates resources. In other words, budgets determine when, how many, and how long a project needs resources.

In conclusion, the PM is the face of the project so any concerns over scheduling, cost, and/or quality are going to reflect on the project manager. The project manager must have a firm grasp of the scope of a project in order to accurately apply time, cost, and quality standards to it. The PM needs to know their project inside and out so that if any factors change, they can alert stakeholders and update the project plan accordingly.

Project Management: Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Communication is key to project management. When a project manager is able to communicate effectively with their resources and clients, projects are successful. It is a project manager’s responsibility to know when to share or withhold information for the best interest of the project. If project management is suffering in your company, it likely stems from a communication error. Here are 5 project management mistakes that can harm your firm.

1: Sharing new project information before it is confirmed

When faced with a sudden change from the client it can be tempting to immediately redirect resources. The project manager’s concern is the deadline. The faster they can get their team moving on new information, the less time lost. However, clients get cold feet about ideas or panic over timelines, but this does not always result in actual change. Depending on how many people are involved in a project, a proposed change may become a topic of back and forth discussion that results in no action, or a different action from the original proposal. Often the client simply needs to be reassured.

If a project manager rushes to halt or change work on a project, this could actually result in lost time if the client ends up sticking to the original plan. While it is important to quickly adapt during the course of a project, it is important to have the approval of changes, and specific information before communicating with the team.

2: Assuming work is being done

During projects with longer deadlines, there are periods of passive project management: a proposal/schedule/work is with a client for approval, internal resources have longer deadlines to complete their work on the project, external resources are involved, etc. A big mistake is for a project manager to assume that work is being done. It is important not to nag or micro-manage clients and team members, but it is the project manager’s responsibility to keep the stages of a project moving and on track. If a deadline is missed, assuming that the person responsible is aware and simply behind can result in even greater time loss. Sometimes emails fail, or tasks fall off the radar.

3: Relying on memory

When an issue comes up in a project, it is important to flag the email/create a reminder/write it down. At the time it might seem easy to remember, but a project manager works on numerous projects at a time, with different team members and different issues. It might be inconvenient to stop in the middle of something to jot down a reminder, but often the information ends up forgotten or not passed along to the appropriate team member. Just because an issue seems memorable at the moment, it might not be the next day when faced with a new problem. Letting things slip through the cracks makes the firm look unprofessional and sloppy.

4: Not mediating between clients and resources

The project manager is the one who interfaces with the client so that team members have time to do their own work, and the client is able to get information on their project from a single source. A big mistake project managers occasionally make is not properly mediating information between the two sides. For example, it might seem easy to simply forward a client request through to the team member who will be doing the actual work. However, depending on the situation or client it’s sometimes better to address the client request and then discuss them with their team in a way that is constructive.

5: Not adapting to client needs

In project management, most firms have a system for how they take on a client, address their concerns, and complete the project. However, not all clients are the same. Yes, it is important to have an internal system that team members can follow, and yes it is easier for a project manager to have all project communication handled in a similar way, but it is a mistake not to adapt to the client.

Some clients require more updates on progress to feel secure. On the other hand, others don’t want to be bothered until the work is complete. Maybe Client A is flexible about deadlines and is informal in their emails. But, Client B wants deadlines met exactly as laid out and prefers very professional communication. It is important that a project manager reads their client and adapts their management slightly to better fit that client’s needs. Otherwise, a client may feel neglected or dissatisfied and pull their current, or future projects from the firm.

Rely on a project management firm

If you need project management help, gives us a call. From the start of a project to its completion and everything in between, we provide valuable project management services for scope, time, and cost. No matter the scale of your project, you will be assigned a dedicated project manager. Your PM will work with you to develop a plan to ensure the final product is successful and meets your needs. Your project manager will also make certain your project stays on time and within budget.