Top 5 Tips from a Veteran Project Manager

Project management meeting

I’ve worked as a project manager for the last 6 years and recently joined KTL Solutions as their newest project manager.  Prior to joining KTL, I worked at one of the world’s largest data carriers, managing a team of 8 located all over the world mainly turning up circuits and building POP locations.  And even before that, I was a telephony engineer for 16 years working for major telco companies. Through my experience, I’ve picked up on some essential skills to effectively manage teams as well as projects to succession.  

A Smart and Efficient Team 

If you don’t have the right team in place, the chances of your strategy and plan falling apart are high. Therefore, it is necessary that project staff, expert resources, suppliers and all stakeholders involve themselves actively and form a team dynamic. All the entities involved must have a commitment towards the group, share a similar vision for the projects, and work hard for overall success. 

Proper Tools are Key to Tracking and Communication 

The use of Project Management Software to get everyone on the same page with a central Repository of information is critical. Project Management Software not only allows you to manage the “to-dos” but also sets the availability of key resources and the tracking of time.  They also assist in open communication while working with stringent timelines, it is important that the team remains well informed about the minute to minute information. If a problem arises in one part of the project, it can negatively impact other parts as well. Transparent communication is the best way to prevent such problems from occurring. 

Open Communication is Imperative 

As mentioned previously, communication is one of the key items recognized as leading for a successful project.  It should also be noted that in projects experiencing problems, communication is often reported as lacking.  It is important to keep teams informed.   

Team meetings should occur weekly or on an as-needed basis. Even a short conference call meeting can be effective to get everyone together. The agenda in these short calls should include a review of an up-to-date status report and focus on any issues or concerns with dates or deliverables. The status report should include the status of milestones, recent work completed, what work is to occur next, high-priority issues, and changes to the budget, scope, schedule, or resources.  This should not be a detailed account of activities but rather a summary. Users should be informed of the progress of the project as it evolves.   

Remember that communication is vital to the success of a project.  It allows for establishing expectations and keeping everyone informed.  

Reflect Upon Issues of Previous Projects 

A project is a plan of work that ideally gets you to the desired outcome. Before a project takes place, you really must think and define the project. What are some of the issues and problems experienced in previous projects? In the case of improvement, what are the project management issues you face that you want to address? 

 Remember most problems are hidden. It is important to do a proper root cause analysis so that you are not just treating symptoms but curing the condition! 

Strong Project Closure 

If a project does not have a strong closure, then it has the potential to continue to consume resources. The project team must be firm and agree with the customer that all critical success factors have been met. Confirmation of the project delivery, testing, and release must be agreed upon and signed off. Satisfaction surveys are good forms of documentation to log and file for future reference and valuable information for use in the future.  

Projects can vary drastically in terms of goals, resources, team dynamics, but these are some of the common practices I’ve learned from professional experience that has led to the completion of a successful project.