While modern technology allows us to amplify our abilities and
do more than we ever could before, the sheer amount of inputs and
information has led us to somewhat of a tipping point. Today,
business communication is so ubiquitous that most employees spend
the majority of their time responding to emails, answering phones,
and participating in meetings, not to mention the time spent on
Slack and other forums for discussion—not actually, you know,
working.

It’s enough to overwhelm even the most organized worker, but
what about project managers who are responsible for codifying and
making sense of countless bits of information for a particular
project? Unless you have a system, it’s easy to spin your wheels
endlessly, chasing down unimportant details and leaving yourself no
time to deal with the bigger picture. After all, you’re not
solely a documentarian, and an endless amount of data only serves
to complicate issues further.

Even worse, each project stakeholder has a different agenda and
interest at hand, and odds are no one has the holistic birds-eye
view you do, which is why you’re the one shepherding the project
along. But if there’s ever a problem like a missed deliverable or
an expanding budget, you’ll likely get the blame, at least in
part, which is why it helps to adhere to a system of project
management best practices that’ll minimize the chances of things
derailing.

1. Source input from all important stakeholders

Before you even start organizing and attempting to make sense of
a given project, it’s essential to canvas all the important
stakeholders. This includes the client, each department where work
will take place, and any other integral players. The good thing is
that each discussion can be just 10 or 15 minutes long, but the
information is invaluable. Indeed, after building a personal
knowledge base, you’ll start to develop a unique view of the
entire project. When a problem comes up — and trust us, they
always do — you’re in a great position to balance everyone’s
interests against the needs of the project. One of the most
important
project management best practices
is to always understand the
aim of the project for everyone involved.

2. Have a contingency plan

In
project management
, it’s not a matter of if something
goes wrong, it’s when. So after you’ve talked to all the
key players, make a note of any potential problems or pain points
raised, including anything you can think of after a quick analysis.
If you need to call another meeting to walk through something
specific, do so. A year-long project can easily be thrown upside
down for any number of reasons, and the better you can anticipate
and plan for these pain points, the better off you and your project
will be. “What can you see that may go wrong?” is a powerful
question to ask each resource in order to plan for each potential
situation.

3. Determine responsibilities, handoff points, and
deliverables

Once you’ve sourced feedback from important stakeholders and
identified where and when the project is likely to go off track,
it’s time to create a project plan that identifies each
deliverable, handoff point, and the responsibilities of each
participant or department. Be specific. Vague tasks,
deadlines, or obligations are easily excused away, and you’ll
have to clarify yourself or the project plan down the line anyway.
Additionally, the more comprehensive your plan, the more likely it
is that you’ll get buy-in after approval. Others will trust that
you’re the right person to lead the project, and any
disagreements can be easily remedied by consulting or amending the
plan.

4. Don’t forget that you’re dealing with people

With all the talk of certifications and other technical
competencies, most project managers wouldn’t be blamed for a
strong focus on the tools that help them organize and keep track of
various inputs and dependencies. But project plans, deadlines, and
budgets won’t get the work done, the people do. As a project
manager,
you are a leader
, and it pays to have empathy for the person on
the other end of the line or email. Their concerns are real, and
understanding where they’re coming from will help you organize
and run a better project. And the next time you work with them —
because there’s always a next time — you’ll be seen as a
friendly face, not a taskmaster consumed by spreadsheets and
budgets.

5. Project management software can help

As time is a finite resource we can’t make any more of, it’s
important to make the most of the time you have, both
professionally and personally. From a project management
perspective, the right piece of specialist software not only makes
your job easier due to increased efficiency in organization and
presentation, but it frees you up to do the heavy thinking that
might save your next project. Sure, software can tell you that a
deadline is coming up, but the real benefit is in offloading the
cumbersome bits that steal precious mindshare from your real value
as a living, thinking person.

That’s why at LiquidPlanner, we created a suite of project management
tools
that helps you scale your efforts at a higher level
across bigger and better projects. Our software uses intelligent,
resource-driven scheduling technology that allows you to embrace
uncertainty in an increasingly uncertain field. Your superiors want
answers, and we’ll help you ascertain what they are, or at least
free you up to figure it out. That’ll make you a better PM, and
it just might kick your career into overdrive.

The post
Project Management Best Practices that Need to Be Second Nature

appeared first on LiquidPlanner.

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