Delivering Projects and Driving Effective Change

Whether you’re running a large-scale suite of complex programmes or simply trying to plan your week, project management becomes increasingly essential if you’re to deliver your best work.

So how can your organisation ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time? And how do you know that your projects are going to be delivered on time and within budget?

Here are 5 project management tips to help increase your teams’ chances of success.

1. Communicate through change

Projects are often born from organisational change so the ability to manage teams and process through change is integral to good project management. Clear communication can relieve a lot of the issues that make managing a project challenging. Let’s delve into this a little further.

Communicate project roles and responsibilities

Define the scope of the project team and make sure each team member is clear on their role within the project and the responsibilities they carry. This will help prevent confusion later down the line when assigning actions, owners and deadlines. It’s important to empower people to manage themselves where possible and giving them a clear understanding of what is expected from them from the start will help to achieve this.

Being open and allowing your people to come to you with issues is also key. You should listen to everyone’s opinions (and respect them), even if you choose not to take them all on board.

Positively challenge stakeholders

Anyone who has an interest in the project is a stakeholder. But how do you know who to consult, who to advise and who to simply keep updated?

Quick tip: A stakeholder-mapping exercise early on in the project will help you to identify your key stakeholders and plan the extent to which you should involve them.

Whether you are a project manager or workstream lead for your business area, stakeholders will expect you to be on top of the progression of the project and this often involves challenging others on their performance. If you’re new to project management, this may feel a little uncomfortable but we’ve come up with some tips to help you to challenge positively:

  • Challenge in a suitable forum, such as a working group where a review of actions is part of the agenda
  • Explain from the off that each project member will be held accountable for ownership of their actions
  • Keep it factual and clearly state the consequences to the success of the project if actions are not complete
  • Maintain and share a RAID (risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies) log and ask stakeholders to come up with mitigating actions for RAID items in their area

Managing expectations and keeping all parties updated means everyone is on the same page and can be realistic with their goals.

Be clear

Overall, it’s important to make sure communication, regardless of who it’s with, is clear and timely. It’s simple really – the quicker information is shared, the quicker it can be implemented. And the clearer the information that’s shared, the less room there is for confusion and error.

To ensure you’re communicating as quickly and clearly as you can, we recommend implementing a communication plan (and sticking to it!). Project management software such as Asana or Trello can also ensure your teams are all on the same page.

2. Delegate and motivate

A good project manager plays to the strengths of their team. You can’t do everything – that’s the reason you have a team. So make sure you’re delegating in a way that means tasks are completed to the highest standard possible.

If motivation is lacking, keep your team’s spirits high by creating a positive, encouraging environment that empowers them to succeed. Allowing for a degree of flexibility in the project plan when required, and keeping communication going can help with this.

3. Effectively manage risk

Embarking on any project comes with risk, so taking steps to mitigate this is crucial.

Communication is key in this instance too, as discussing challenges with your team can help you to identify potential risks and find the best solutions to overcome them.

Quick tip: Stay on top of potential risks by asking each team member to submit a weekly report rating the status of their workstream as red, amber or green and any new RAID items they have identified from that week’s activity.

The three main risks in any project are often to do with resource, budget and time so don’t forget to assess potential risks in these areas before you start any project. That way you’re ready to tackle issues as they arise. Tackling risks as they come to fruition is not good for smooth project completion.

4. Be organised

As a project manager, it’s your job to be organised and that means knowing your project inside out, from inception to decommission. You’ll need to manage time effectively, identify and work to requirements, manage your people as well as your documents, and keep a focus on the overall objectives. And that’s just the beginning!

It’s a lot, so we’d recommend using a project management tool to help, especially as change and uncertainty are inevitable. These tools allow your team to be flexible when needed, as you can update live tasks and deadlines, and generally embrace change with less stress.

5. Evaluate and learn from projects

In order to improve and become a better project manager than you were yesterday, it’s important to evaluate and learn from other projects you’ve worked on. Consider what went well so you can do it again, and also what didn’t go so well, so you avoid doing it next time.

Quick tip: It’s not always easy to get constructive criticism but consider asking colleagues to feedback on your performance as you may get some valuable insights into how you can improve in future.

Bespoke leadership training programmes

Being a good project manager is a fundamental part of being a good leader. Our leadership training course has a module dedicated to project management, introducing you to the tools and methodologies you need to succeed as a PM.

Find out more about our leadership training course.