Everybody seems to know what a Project Manager is compelled to do to be a successful one: on-time and within budget projects. Perhaps, some bold opinion-holders will go a little bit further and will talk about meeting requirements and managing customers’ expectations. Sounds familiar? Well, let’s pass the obvious.
At Virtualmind we are convinced that there’s much more to PM excellence than proper implementation, tasks overseeing, or hour tracking. Great Project Management is all about going beyond budget and timelines to master the high-impact, high-visibility projects with strong business acumen and a focus on what’s really important to your organization, your client, and your team. Do you want to drive, guide, and execute true strategic value-added projects? Here are the 3 golden rules you don’t want to miss.
The 3 golden rules to first-class project management
- 1. Soft Skills-Driven Optimization
To make the most out of professional talent, financial provision and available time is the core of Project Management. But people restrict this mission to some facts like meeting project costs (and luckily finishing under budget) or delivering everything on time. We are not saying that it’s not necessary to set a clear and thoughtful budget (that includes salaries, equipment, suppliers, and materials), track deviations, or identify and tame cost escalation. Neither are we proclaiming that it’s not relevant to monitor progress to make sure you’re not running behind the schedule. We are saying this is not enough.
Surprises will arise, even with the most detailed plan. And that is when proactiveness to streamline costs and make unexpected cuts or the ability to understand bottlenecks and rearrange the team skillset on the go will make all the difference. You are probably wondering how. And the answer is: Soft skills. Project Managers not only need to know how to implement a change control process with very refined calculations. They need to direct their efforts towards buy-in creation, conflict resolution, agile mentoring, and long term commitment. For example, understanding when a project is struggling with an impossible deadline and choosing to ask for additional help or time instead of pushing people to the limit - that’s what is going to make all the (positive) difference.
- 2. Transparent Communication (with Everyone)
Communication skills are another must for any aspiring Project Manager. To give clear visibility of project direction and ongoing to the management, team members, and clients, it is vital not only to get approvals but also to gain support when efforts get sidetracked. The more information you provide the better everyone would respond to any unforeseen problem.
There are two strategies that you’ll find very useful and appreciated when it comes to transparent communication.
- First of all, tech tools. To-the-point dashboards, real-time data processing charts - it’s your responsibility to provide visual-friendly and quick-to-access analysis of metrics and KPIs progress. But this is mostly for the higher-ups.
- Don’t forget to foster honesty among the dev team too - yes, this is the second but equally important piece of advice. You should be able to break the news (good and bad) to everyone involved in the project, with every detail that you can. Something major: Don’t overlook recognition of progress and victories. You’ll be rewarded with trust and mutual transparency.
- 3. Success Beyond Requirements
You can finish your project on time, under budget and with all requirements met, and still have unsatisfied customers, disappointed colleagues, or, what’s even worse, a damaged organization. Why? How? Project Management is like any other relationship: it is important to check the counterpart’s expectations, opinions, and goals with more frequency. They can (and will) change during the process. Ask for your team’s constant feedback, listen to your client’s concerns and suggestions - give your stakeholders a great customer experience, and gather super valuable information to shift when necessary with less collateral damage.
Moreover, take care of your organization. It has a saying on this too. Every project should be aligned with the company’s long-term goals and contribute to its culture improvement. Managing for a larger purpose than a specific product will add value to the business and to your own professional career. Stay in touch with other departments to expand your knowledge of the organization, nourish its streamlining and flexibility, and help in the fulfillment of its strategic objectives.
Case Study: Trio Rewards
At Virtualmind, we think that Project Management (guided by these golden rules) makes the whole difference. We helped a great client, Trio Rewards, to replace an obsolete application -their rewards app- with a new, efficient, and scalable version. We had to rebuild the product’s technology from Ionic 1 to React Native in what seemed a really tight time frame. So how did we make it happen? Yes, you guessed it right:
- Soft skills - driven optimization. We assigned a dedicated PM for the project, in charge of management and communication, with a very strong focus on agile methodologies. Dailies and sprints were touchpoints for overcoming blockers with flexibility. We had surprises - the demands of the reward program changed with the pandemic along with the tool we developed -. We succeed in every challenge thanks to a project management approach that fostered the team’s motivation and commitment through clear explanation, debate, and collaborative definition in every decision.
- Transparent communication. We invested all the time needed to have a fluent conversation with our client, always negotiating with respect and knowledge-based arguments. We defined the way to get the best MVP possible with the resources available, as one integrated team. We also set priorities and took business decisions with constant and crystal clear communication. Tools helped: we used Slack (inside the dev team and with the client), also Jira (for management purposes), and BitBucket.
- Success beyond requirements. We never stopped working towards the same goal with our client, as in a strategic partnership. We checked constantly the changing needs of the project: the future scalability, the short timeframe, the unexpected turns of events. Always thinking about how to make things work today but also ahead.
The result? A successful project and, of course, a happy client!
First-Class Project Management never rests
Now that we walked you through the three rules for your triumph at managing projects, here’s the final key ingredient (for everything in life, actually): continuous learning. Remain in a perpetual state of improvement. Inside your project and beyond it. Continually review processes and resources, stay updated with new technologies and collaborative solutions, offer new goals to your team, and complimentary training to its members’ strengths. Perform competitor’s research and create new performance strategies. What works today could not work tomorrow. But what will keep your Project Manager’s profile evolving would be above the tools, methodologies, and circumstantial swings.