5 project management strategies to keep your projects on track
Truth be told, projects cannot be willed into existence. It takes more than a good idea and drive to make it happen for a project to succeed.
Project management strategies fill the chasm between a project’s start and finish. Think of them as stepping stones, and use them to make meaningful progress.
There are tons of project management strategies out there, but these five strategies are designed to help you boost your chances for success on each and every project.
What is project management?
Before you can put any project management strategies to work, you have to know what exactly you’re doing. So, let’s take a minute and answer a foundational question — what is project management?
The definition of project management is how to organize people, resources, and processes to achieve a goal with a defined beginning and end . Successful project management takes a lot of organization, clarity on goals, and clear commitment to those goals from everyone involved.
Projects fail when there’s a breakdown with either people, process, or communication. Keeping all three in check will help you reach a project’s finish line with only minor and easy to manage hiccups.
Avoiding those pitfalls and keeping your projects on track is about following a project management process. Even as new trends change how we handle the job, the process remains the same:
Your project goal is only wishful thinking until you define the strategies you’ll use to take your project from an idea to a finished product. 97% of organizations know that project management is critical to business performance and success, according to a PwC study.
What is strategic planning?
You won’t strike project management gold without a solid plan. Before scheduling a project, focus on strategic planning.
Strategic planning looks at the end goal and asks, “How do we get there?” From there, the strategic plan is used to dedicate necessary resources and to set priorities. A strategic project has milestones along the way to measure success as well as clear processes to make sure teams achieve them.
The responsibility of strategic planning usually falls to the Strategic Program Manager (SPM). This project management pro oversees a project from start to finish, making sure everyone involved knows exactly what’s happening and has what they need for success. They see a project’s “big picture” and work to mitigate risk.
Speaking of risk: Strategy risk is the chance a project will fail. It’s the SPM’s job to anticipate each risk factor and make a plan for what to do if it happens.
COVID-19 is a great strategy risk example. The pandemic disrupted work and sent everyone home. The sudden switch to remote work delayed projects, changed demand, and forced teams to adapt. While “global pandemic” probably wasn’t mentioned in many 2020 strategic planning meetings, successful strategic program managers worked to keep projects moving forward without too much disruption.
Project management strategies
You need sound project management strategies to guide you through the process and keep your project moving forward on schedule. Aiming toward a finished product without any kind of strategy sets your project up for scope creep and derailing risks.
These five project management strategies will help you create a plan that’s efficient and repeatable for each new project.
Strategy 1: Clarify your project details before you get started
Before you begin project scheduling, you have to know what the project involves. Start with the final product and work backwards. What steps and smaller products do you need to complete to get to the final product? Take time to understand everything you have to accomplish and what resources you’ll need to make it happen. As you clarify your project’s details, you should commit to a project management methodology and begin building a project plan based on it.
Strategy 2: Evaluate your project from multiple perspectives
During the planning phase, step back and look at the project from the perspectives of different roles. Each one will face challenges that you might not notice at first glance. Project management strategies in construction, for instance, will look different for a foreman than for an architect or site engineer. Your project plan has to account for each role’s needs and anticipate common problems that they each might face. It’s easy to become blind to potential loopholes and missed opportunities in your own project plan, it can be helpful to run it through team members who have not been involved to see if they catch something you may have missed.
Strategy 3: Choose the right people to be on the project team
A project will only be as successful as the people working on it. Each person on a team should be picked for the skills and personality they bring to the project. Not everyone will be a great fit for every project, and your best team may not even include all of your “best” people.
Overlapping skill sets and clashing personalities will slow down — or even completely derail — a project. But approaching personnel from the perspective of “Who’s the best for this project?” will make the process much smoother.
Strategy 4: Set achievable milestones to measure progress
Large projects risk getting off track or running behind schedule without specific, measurable milestones along the way. Setting milestones breaks a project into frequent check-points. You can use them to hold your team accountable for each milestone and adjust your full project timeline as you go.
Setting milestones is also a great stakeholder management strategy. If you have progress points with set due dates throughout the project, you can report to your stakeholders how a project is coming along — without having to try to explain each task and its relationship to the whole project.
Strategy 5: Evaluate your process after completing the project
After project reports, post-mortems, retrospectives — whatever you want to call it, you need to evaluate the project at its conclusion. Go beyond whether it was a success or failure. Look at each milestone and step you took to reach it.
First, celebrate your wins. What went well and what do you want to replicate in the future? Next, look for places where your process broke down — what can you change for the next project to avoid the same problems? This review will help you refine your project management process and make your next projects even better.
Use project management strategies, stay on track
Implementing project management strategy is a breeze with monday.com. We want to see your projects succeed just as much as you do, so we made a project management plan template for you to use on your next project.