8 Tips to Make Project Management Easier & More Streamlined
by Jarno Koopman on May 10, 2023
If you’re an owner or project manager with a business that’s growing and scaling, kudos to you! You’re doing something right and so is your team.
As you acquire more clients, though, things can quickly get overwhelming. Suddenly, you’re managing more projects than ever before. You’ve had to bring in new people. Your goals have become larger and more demanding.
To keep their business thriving, managers and owners must do more than just keep their heads above water.
Luckily, we have several tried-and-true ways to make project management easier and more streamlined. Here are 8 practical tips that work for startups and seasoned service organizations alike:
1. Identify clear project goals and objectives
At the outset, the goal of the project must be crystal-clear to everyone on board. Setting up tangible project goals and objectives is necessary to get all team members on the same page. Knowing exactly what you need to do, a clear vision of deliverable(s), will inform budgeting, resource management, and more intricate details throughout the project lifecycle. This will also help you begin to figure out which tasks or phases of the project are most critical.
2. Use project management software with automated features
Even if you work with small teams, you’ll need project management software to help you manage and track everything across your projects. Project management software should provide project tracking, task management, time and expense tracking, and collaboration tools at a minimum. To take the admin drag out of managing projects, project management solutions with automated features provide the most value. This includes useful tools like automatic alerts for budget overspend, automated invoicing, and self-driving time tracking. Automation can save you major time and money, things you need more of when your business is growing.
3. Divide the project into smaller tasks
Breaking down the project process into smaller tasks will help you and your team get organized. At this point, you can go into your project management software and utilize the task management. That way, you can enter the tasks and see them on the screen, along with the team. You should be able to more easily spot potential problems and bottlenecks when you break down the project like this. It’s also a good idea to get feedback from trusted team members who may have good ideas about how to complete tasks and phases more efficiently. Another solid idea on this front is the Gantt chart. Gantt charts are the favorite visual tool of project managers for complicated projects. These project all your tasks and dependencies onto a linear timeline that looks like a sideways bar graph. You can make a Gantt chart easily with Excel, but those provided by project management software are the intelligent versions that can update in real time.
4. Set realistic deadlines
When you’re planning out your task management, it’s important to set realistic timelines. This is easier with smaller teams of professionals who’ve worked together before, but it can be more challenging with newer, larger teams. By setting realistic timelines, you can avoid overcommitting to clients and underestimating the time and effort required to complete all the deliverables. You’ll also be able to better manage expectations and communicate more effectively with stakeholders. If anything, it’s better to overestimate and under-commit than risk the dissatisfaction of a customer who may not return in the future. Be sure you have honest, effective communication with your team and your stakeholders, so that everyone is clear about the timeline and no client gets disappointed.
To make managing multiple projects easier and more streamlined, you have to learn to prioritize. A great place to start is with the tasks needed to complete the project. As soon as tasks and timelines are identified, prioritizing them based on importance and urgency. This will help the team stay focused on the most crucial tasks that are needed to keep the project moving forward. You can easily prioritize tasks in your task management tool with a color code or specific field, so you can designate different tasks ‘P1’, ‘P2’, etc. Doing so can get everyone on the team to manage their time more effectively, reducing the risk of missing milestones or worse, disappointing customers. Finally, managers of growing service businesses need to learn how to prioritize their own time and energy. This is really important when you have multiple projects and multiple teams under your watch. There are many ways you can do this, like making a priority matrix or even using self-care tools like meditation at the beginning of each day.
6. Keep your communication on point
All project managers and small business owners should strive to keep communication on point. Consistent communication with project stakeholders, including team members, vendors, and clients, is essential to keep everybody up-to-date on the progress of the project. Efficient, regular communication can also help you identify pain points earlier in the project lifecycle and prevent them from becoming bigger problems in the future. As far as how you should communicate, the best path forward is to limit your communication channels. Instead of relaying messages across countless emails and texts, use a collaboration tool like Slack. With Slack, you can organize your communications into different channels, so you’ll never miss a beat. Another alternative is to keep everything within your task management tool, which would mean communicating within the task boards. You can link these communications to your email, so that you get notified anytime someone mentions you within the project.
7. Evaluate performance after deliverables are in
Even though the project is over and the client is happy, your work is still not done. It’s important to consistently evaluate project performance to find out where you can improve. In your evaluation, you should measure the success of the project against your original goals and objectives. A lot of this may center on profitability and productivity. A good way to go about your evaluation is to go back into your project management software and run reports. You can see time-tracking data, billable hours, and more to figure out what went right and what went wrong.
8. Use templates from successful projects
Finally, a great hack to streamlining your project management is the almighty template. Templates can’t solve all your problems, but they can really help you out with future projects. If you have an upcoming contract that’s similar to a previous project that you knocked out of the park, use a project template to recreate the roadmap. Instead of reinventing the wheel, you can get to work and leverage processes you know will work to make the client happy. All-in-one project management platforms usually provide this reusable template feature to duplicate project task boards and contracts for future use.