Behind every successful project is a formulated checklist, copious amounts of coffee, and an organized project manager, if not several. Compelling project managers are the backbone of every project – making sure that projects are delivered on-time and with excellent results.
But while professional project managers have extensive training in project management, most of us manage projects as a part of our job: We recently surveyed over 1300 professionals, of which 95% said they manage projects as part of their job, but less than a third (29%) of them are project managers by title.
So if this is the case, what sets both professional and non-professional project managers apart from the rest? One word: transparency.
Project management defined
Project management typically involves organizing a company’s resources—be it finances, employees, or intellectual property—to push a definitive task, one-time event, or an ongoing activity to completion. In other words, project management includes the initiation, outlining, execution, overseeing, and completion of a project.
No matter what industry the project manager may hail from, project managers tend to have very similar tasks, which include outlining the goals of the project, delegating tasks to other team members, and determining when the different aspects of the project are due.
Why is project management important?
Project management helps companies predict and mitigate risks, better manage costs, and deliver quality results.
According to a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that surveyed 213 senior executives and project managers across the globe, a whopping 90% of respondents say project management is either critical (47%) or somewhat important (43%) to their ability to deliver successful projects and remain competitive.
Companies that adhere to detailed project management processes, including a detailed evaluation of scope and budget, ongoing risk management, and measurement of project results, more consistently meet and surpass their goals, according to the EIU report.
Typically, the project management lifecycle is broken down into five different phases:
- Identification: identifying the goals and objectives of the specified project.
- Initiation: setting out project deliverables, selecting the relevant stakeholders, and outlining what resources are needed.
- Planning: planning out the project timelines and assigning tasks.
- Delivery and execution: do the work required and present the project.
- Closure and conclusion: assess project successes and setbacks, note lessons learned for next time.
Our top 3 essential project management skills
While there are an infinite amount of skills that could be attributed to successful project managers, there are definitely a few that stand out:
Time management skills
First, having solid time management skills is necessary. In order to get a project done on time, a project manager needs to be able to accurately estimate how long tasks take to complete and therefore be able to prioritize accordingly.
Second, technical skills are qualities learned or obtained by using or undertaking certain physical or digital tasks. There are many different kinds of technical skills, and different projects rely on different technical needs — for example, a sales team project manager would still need to use a CRM with project management features to manage the sales pipeline. However, the more knowledge a project manager has of the technical aspects needed to complete the project, the more accurate the manager will be in setting manageable tasks, expectations, and timelines for their team.
Third, a project manager must have good communication abilities in order to articulate effectively what is required from each team member.
The single most important value for project managers is transparency
But there is one value that truly sets great project managers apart: transparency.
Harvard Business Review defines transparency broadly, as “the degree to which information flows freely within an organization, among managers and employees, and outward to stakeholders.” Here at monday.com, we define transparency as “making all information—numbers, roadmaps, plans, challenges, and concerns—readily accessible to everyone on your team.”
Companies and team members alike can’t respond to different stakeholders and teammates’ ever-changing requests, work efficiently, or innovate if they aren’t given up-to-date information and updates.
Benefits for employees
By being transparent with all employees, they can be more agile, work autonomously, achieve better results, and reach their goals faster because they have access to all the information they need to succeed.
When information is available to everyone, teammates see the bigger picture and understand how their work and contributions make a direct impact. People see that their tasks matter – but beyond that, they can easily pivot and shift if needed. A task’s due date shifted? A team member completed a sub-item? All team members are informed instantly and can avoid redundancies.
Benefits for leaders
But having open communication methods with all employees not only positively affects team members, but project managers themselves.
When you limit employees from gaining access to information, managers are forced to share only the exact information employees need to get their work done. As the manager, you’re then the only one who can see if the work they did made an impact or not. The burden is always on you to relay the information and adjust the course of action for everyone else on the team. Besides hindering others’ efficiency, it’s exhausting.
Moreover, team leads are far likelier to make mistakes when they act on too little information than when they are given more details, such as with everyone having open access to changing needs and information, the Harvard Business Review states, citing a study conducted at NASA.
Instead, when all information is available to everyone, employees can see if their work is successful or not. They’re motivated to make improvements themselves and can adjust – without heavy oversight – to meet their goals. Your job as a manager is simply to make sure that they have all the information and can comprehend it quickly. That’s a lot easier and substantially more rewarding for all parties involved.
Even though organizational transparency has many benefits, many leaders still resist being transparent because they view information as a source of power they do not want to give up or share. It is therefore up to the project manager to ensure that their teams are given access to processes that lead to a culture of transparency and accessibility.
Project management methodologies that increase transparency
As project managers, the methodology you choose can always be made more transparent.
- Waterfall project management: If using the waterfall project management methodology, because this project management style requires the plan for the project to be made upfront and includes the entire scope of the project, being open and transparent with all those involved is key
- Kanban project management: If you’re looking for an easy and visual way to manage your tasks, Kanban can be helpful. Literally translating to “board” in Japanese, Kanban board is divided into several different columns that represent stages in your workflow, and is essentially a more conceptual assembly line, enabling teams to visually evaluate points of inefficiency. By being transparent, it’ll make the Kanban methodology even more useful.
- Agile project management: Agile isn’t only a methodology, but rather a belief system, and one that completely aligns with transparency and accessibility. The agile methodology understands that uncertainty is a given, and empowers teams to be super flexible, execute their work swiftly, and respond to change without any glitches.
How to inculcate transparency on your team
Additionally, you should leverage the following practices to help promote transparency on your team:
- Make efforts to know each of their team members’ inherent strong points and weaknesses as to allocate work accordingly
- Leverage project management software to stay organized and on-track
- Ensuring that all communication lines between all team members are always open to address problems quickly and efficiently
- Grant access to all up-to-date statistics to each of the team members
- Have frequent communication sessions or meetings with all levels of employees
How does project management software fit into effective management?
Effective project management relies less and less on complicated planning mechanisms and more on managing professional relationships and contrasting work processes. With disorderly deadlines, infinite deliverables, a slew of coworkers, and an extensive list of tasks to complete, getting everything organized in an easy visual way can make things a whole lot easier and more openly accessible to all those involved.
As such, customizable Work OS monday.com provides the tools for this new type of project management. Collaboration across teams, departments, geographies, and hierarchies is made easily accessible with monday.com’s project management features.
Whether working internally or with outside partners using shareable boards, everyone involved in the project knows where tasks stand in real-time, and what needs to be done next and when.
Check out our project management cluster to promote transparency in your next project.