21 Success Tips Every Project Manager Should Know
Managing software projects is not an easy task. It entails a careful balancing of stakeholder interests and several factors such as limited resources, time constraints, evolving technology and unrealistic demands. This article covers 21 helpful tips to manage projects effectively. These tips have been classified into the following categories:
- Setting achievable goals
- Proper planning
- Making right estimations
- Tracking the progress
- Learning from experience
Setting achievable goals
1. Set a Project Success Criteria
During the initial phases of the project, clearly identify what the stakeholders consider as the success of the project. After that, set some measurable business goals. Keeping track of team members’ job satisfaction is also essential. You must recognize the most important project success criteria and make it a top priority.
2. Identify and Balance the Project Drivers
It is critical to balance functionality, quality, staffing, cost and timing for all projects. Therefore, define each of these as either a constraint within which you must operate or a degree of freedom which you can adjust.
3. Decide When to Release Product
Another factor to consider during early stages of the project is what criteria will indicate if the product is ready to be released. There can be countless conditions such as legal issues or customer acceptance, but the criteria of your choice must be realistic and quantifiable.
4. Only Commit if You Can Deliver
Even though the customer is king, never promise something you cannot deliver. It is recommended to participate in good-faith negotiations with not only customers but also managers and team members.
5. Write Your Plan
In spite popular belief that writing the plan occupies precious time which could be spent writing codes instead, writing is actually a very effective method. It ensures that you spend enough time on thinking, questioning, negotiating and balancing. You must have a thorough plan before starting work.
6. Set Milestones
Setting small milestones make work seem easier. It also ensures that small tasks are not overlooked. These milestones help to determine that work schedule is on track.
7. Make Project Planning Worksheets
As you and your team do such jobs regularly, it will help to set a format of work and create a worksheet to make the process faster. The worksheets may have checklists for each step of the task at hand, which makes tracking work easier. You can tailor the worksheets for tasks that are different from usual ones.
8. Have Plans to Rework after Quality Assessment
Not every testing experience is a success. Therefore, along with plans to move to next activity, you must also have plans to rework. The schedule should be made keeping these reworks in mind.
9. Handle Project Risks
Of course, risks have the power to affect the overall project success. Risk management is one of the most important aspects of project management. You have to identify risk factors and
10. Schedule Process Improvement
In order to utilize your team’s project engineering capability, you must make time for process improvement techniques. They make be pre-occupied with existing assignments, but you will still have to enforce process improvement. It is a strategic investment you ought to make.
11. Take Advantage of the Learning Curve
The time and money spent on training, consultants and other improved processes are all part of improving the overall success rate. The experience also offers a learning curve which both managers and customers must understand.
Making Right Estimations
12. Estimations Must Be Made Based on Effort, not Schedule
While most people set deadlines based on calendar time, the best approach is to estimate based on effort or labor hours. The number of hours needed to complete a task must be converted to a calendar-time estimate, instead of doing the opposite.
13. Multitasking is Not Always Good
Yes, multitasking is great. However, it is known to significantly lower the effectiveness at work. It leads to inefficiency in communication and thought process. Therefore, schedule less multi-tasking and enjoy job efficiency.
14. Include Training Time in Schedule
Gather a rough estimate of how much time the team members spend on training each year. Remove that time from the time they can spend on project tasks. Ongoing education is very important for such fields as it ensures high success rates.
15. Write Down Estimates and Record How You Made Them
Along with keeping written records of all your estimates, jot down exactly how you arrived at them. Knowing what approaches were used to conclude an estimate can be used for later adjustments.
16. Use Different Estimation Tools
Many tools can be used to estimate complete projects. These commercial tools make the estimates more accurate as they consider different factors.
17. Recognize Contingency Buffers
One thing is certain: the projects never go exactly as planned. Understand the contingency buffers and increase chances of success for your project.
Tracking The Progress
18. Record Both Estimates and Actuals
If you make a habit of recording all your data, you can always use those as a reference. Your own data is much more reliable and relevant that historical sources.
19. Only Count a Project as Complete When it is 100% Done
Tracking each step of the process has already been recommended. Oftentimes, individuals take credit for projects they have started. You should make the habit of considering a project complete only after it is 100% completed. This motivates the team to work faster towards excellence and completion.
20. Openly Track Project Status
Honestly tracking project status gives everyone an idea about how far behind you are in a project. Allow everyone to openly share problems they face during work and openly discuss project status.
Learning from the Experience
21. Project Retrospectives are Important
Retrospectives offer an opportunity to see how the previous project or phase went. This gives learning opportunity and helps to avoid mistakes in the future.