ProTasker is one of the web’s most robust project management tools, allowing companies to completely streamline their processes through one easy-to-use, centralized web-based platform. The website features a one-step sign up feature as well as a comprehensive knowledge base for user-support.
Pertinent Project Management Dilemmas and Effective Solutions Including New Task Management Software
8 Steps for Becoming a More Effective Project Manager
1. PLAN, REVISE, EXECUTE!
As the project manager, it is your responsibility to create and execute project work plans. You must ensure that each project is clearly outlined along with detailed instructions for completion. Good project managers can provide realistic expectations to their clients by creating project timelines and milestones on a frequent basis. Moreover, while plans will usually need to be revised accordingly to the changing demands and requirements of your client, poor or no planning is a productivity and project killer. Realistic and openly communicated deadlines keep you and the team focused, help to organize thoughts and ideas, and stimulate actions necessary for project completion.
2. COLLECT DATA, DEFINE DEADLINES AND LEAD YOUR TEAM
Accurate records should be kept for all areas of the project; from conception to completion. This information is helpful for current projects but can also serve as guide for future projects of a similar scope. Many software products are available on the market today to aid in this process. An innovative new task management software platform that will automate much of this process called proTasker is just about to hit the market. As a PM, you are in charge of defining individual project responsibilities. Assign each task based on which employee has the necessary expertise and availability. This will help both your team and your client have realistic expectations surrounding milestones.
3. ORGANIZATION IS DIVINE
Poor organizational skills not only waste time, but also send a negative message about your company and quality of work. How can your clients trust your team to complete their projects if your company does not present themselves in a professional and organized manner? Start by organizing your office. Create a file system that keeps pertinent client information organized, easy to find, but not staring you in the face. Keep a running list of to-do items in a place you can see it on your desk and consistently update it to reflect what you have completed and add any new tasks (This is already part of the functionality of proTasker!). Dividing up the process allows you to break it into pieces that are more manageable. Rank the tasks from most important to least important. Keep a running list of questions you need answered on your desk instead of stopping to ask a coworker a question each time it pops into your head. It is beneficial to schedule five-minute meetings with coworkers periodically to discuss all topics at once. Taking the time to get organized is worth it as long as you make it a priority to maintain the organization you put in place. Maintenance is the key in the long run.
4. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!
Personal organization and procrastination go hand in hand. When you are organized, you can properly allot time to do tasks. The least enjoyable tasks are put off almost indefinitely in many cases. Do those tasks at the beginning of the day when you are fresh and alert. You will have more patience and time to put towards the task. At the time of completion, reward yourself for a job well done! It may even help you to set mini deadlines. For example, if you really do not enjoy a task, set aside the morning for the task and once it is completed go out to lunch!
5. DELEGATE! DELEGATE! DELEGATE!
Delegate tasks whenever possible, but delegate wisely. Do not feel as if you have to do everything. Delegating shows your team that you trust them to complete the work, which in turn will empower them to be more decisive and confident. As the Project Manager, teach team members what they need to know to execute the task, or provide them with the necessary resources to learn on their own. Allow them the time needed to succeed and give praise when they do. Spend time developing your team as individual employees. Get to know them personally, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Focus on improving their weaknesses and continuing to excel at their strengths. Share as much information with your team as you have from your own personal experience, but also provide them with all the resources you can to help them expand their knowledge base. Give individuals and the complete team clear expectations and work to keep them motivated!
6. MONITOR TEAM PROGRESS
Ensuring your team is making linear, forward progress at all times is vital. When working on a project check-in with each team member periodically. Consistently acknowledge and appreciate each team member’s contributions. This will allow you to utilize each team member to his/her fullest potential and procure the best possible project results. By checking in you can monitor progress in relation to approaching milestones as well as identify problems before they happen. Make any changes as needed and amend the schedule and deadlines if necessary. Keep your finger on the pulse of your team’s heartbeat and you will deliver a healthy project every time.
7. GET ON THEIR LEVEL
As a PM, you should hold regular status meetings with your project team. Make sure team members feel that lines of communication are open. If team members have a good relationship with their PM, they will feel comfortable to approach their PM about issues or challenges they are having. If an employee is fearful to communicate with their PM it may be too late to fix the problem by the time the PM is made aware of it. Keep the team well informed of changes. Once changes are made to the project plan, make sure every member is made aware either via email or via group meetings. Understanding how to communicate with difficult or sensitive information is crucial. Sometimes as a PM it will be necessary to have uncomfortable conversations with staff or clients. Stay calm and communicate privately with the parties involved. Encouraging team members to ask questions if they are confused will also cut down on the amount of re-work necessary if tasks are not completed correctly. This relates to keeping lines of communication open. If your team feels they can talk to you like a peer they will approach you with problems and issues more quickly in many cases.
8. JUMP IN!
Do not be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get into the trenches with your team. Challenge others to develop as leaders while serving as a role model and mentor. A Project Manager that shows willingness to do any sized task will earn the respect and trust from his team necessary to be a passionate and effective team leader.
Some Quick Tips on Filling in the Gaps!
Ask Yourself…How can you improve upon the following?
1. Efficiency as it is related to infastructure?
a. Do you need more equipment?
b. Does another employee need to be hired?
c. Can the work be outsourced?
2. Employee training?
a. Are there educational tools available to equip employees with mission-critical skills?
b. Can the work be delegated to an employee with more knowledge of the task?
a. Is the issue stemming from a lack of funds?
b. Can the product or service be bought from an outside company?
c. Do you have enough employees on the team to complete the work assigned?
4. Client expectations?
a. Does the client have a realistic idea of what work is necessary for the task to be completed?
b. Is the client familiar with the processes being done?
c. Are their expectations in line with their estimated time allotted and budget?
5. Your personal PM expectations?
a. Are realistic deadlines set?
b. Do you have the resources necessary to complete tasks on time?
c. Are your team members equipped with all the skills necessary?
Go through each of these questions and answer them honestly. Identify areas where improvement can be made and list them according to which are the biggest priorities. Start at the top of the list and work your way down!
PM SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS
Many effective tools are available online to aid in the project management process. The question was posed, “What would ideal small business task management software look like?” An article in Entrepreneur magazine outlined the answer.
1. It would be web-based so everyone could see it at the same time.
2. It would have secure access, allowing different users the rights to see and change different things.
3. It would integrate with at least some system of timesheet data entry.
4. It would easily manage multiple projects and show people’s schedules across those projects.
As previously mentioned, there are some great software products on the market to help facilitate the project management process such as proTasker. These products are incredibly user-friendly. Action items and milestones for each project are all in one place and easy to access. The tasks assigned to each team member seamlessly integrate with their personal calendar, allowing them to look ahead at the work they need to finish. Pertinent files can be uploaded for team members to access and an employee discussion forum keeps all communication about the project in one place.
When it comes to personal and team organization as well as staying on track with deadlines, software tools like these are incredibly helpful to small businesses.
To learn more about proTasker, visit http://protasker.com/.
Pertinent Project Management Dilemmas and Effective Solutions Including New Task Management Software
Effective Project Management is the backbone of any efficient and successful company. Often times, small- and medium-sized companies encounter problems unique to that of larger corporations. Frequently, small businesses have medium-sized client bases. With an out-of-balance employee to client ratio, all staff members must be firing on all cylinders at all times.
Small- and medium- sized businesses live and die by their clients and their deadlines. In some cases, one or two big clients keep the company safely above their bottom line. Not meeting deadlines on time could mean losing crucial clients, which means that organization and scheduling are critical. Every minute counts. Small- and medium-sized businesses often lack the processes found in larger corporations, however they do have the advantage of being able to create their own custom processes.
They have various options to facilitate efficient processes. New task management software like proTasker is taking this one-step further. Templates of each job model are created and saved for use in the future. No longer will you have to ask, “What comes next?” or “Who should perform this task?” Task management software like proTasker will not only suggest logical next steps, but also which employee is best suited to complete the task.
The trickledown effect of good processes is undeniable. Reducing errors in managing time and events will create a more streamlined approach. Effective process leads to less wasted time. Less wasted time leads to more time to contract other projects. More projects equal more money!
In addition to the 8 steps, the following whitepaper includes three sections with ways to improve your personal project management style, how to deal with clients and their needs, and boost overall efficiency in the process.
YOUR PERSONAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT STYLE
As a Manager, or Project Manager (PM), you are the leader of a team, and have the responsibility to be as effective as possible for both your team members and your clients. Understanding your personality style, being aware of your strengths, and weaknesses, and actively working to improve yourself professionally will put you on the path to success. Looking introspectively on a consistent basis and taking stock of any areas that could use improvement is extremely valuable. When analyzing personality styles there are four main categories in which people can be divided: Relaters, Innovators, Analyzers, and Drivers.
Relaters are highly involved in their relationships with others. They have many positive character traits including the fact that they are often great listeners, caring, loyal, and valuable team players. They have the ability to bring people together and communicate effectively to a large group. They can distinguish between the needs and wants of individuals. They make others feel involved in projects they work on and foster consensus within a group.
Best Practices for Relaters
- Keep a detailed and organized calendar to help stay on top of your commitments and deliverables.
- When conflicts arise, be the one to remain neutral and avoid taking sides. Use your skills to restate problems as opportunities, and help others identify solutions rather than looking to assign blame or get out of the room.
- Volunteer to be the “scribe” for the project team. Use your talents to capture issues, deliverables, and action items in clear and concise ways, while recognizing accomplishments along the way for project completion.
Innovators are constantly moving and have a great sense of excitement in the workplace. They are creative, energetic, persuasive, and excellent brainstormers. Their greatest strengths lie in their ability to solve problems, come up with fresh ideas, and create strategic plans. They are fearless in situations they have never encountered before.
Best Practices for Innovators
- Use your personal power to be a “thought leader” rather than dominating the conversation. Help others see the “big picture” as you often see it first.
- Ask 3x more questions than other team members to draw out and gain buy-in for the best solution rather than telling others what the “right” answer is.
- Communicate the big picture through visual expressions and examples. It is often easier for others to understand something once they “see” it.
Analyzers in the workplace stay consistently organized and focused on the details. They are procedural, accurate, methodical, and fact-oriented. They have a keen understanding how the process works. They have strengths in the documenting, controlling, accounting, and systematizing components of a project.
Best Practices for Analyzers
- At the start of a project, define the critical success measures/key performance indicators AND the methodology for how metrics will be calculated.
- Help the project team identify product/process improvement opportunities based on real data and analytics vs. “guesswork” or “politics”.
- Make sure you do not check out when the “big picture” discussion takes place. You need to stand in the future sometimes to be able to see the present.
Drivers range from firm and direct, to assertive and dominant. They are determined, authoritative, influential, and commanding. They have a “go-getter” attitude and desire to be in charge. They are great leaders and are often results-focused.
Best Practices for Drivers
- Remember the “Golden Rule:” Lead others by example, not fear.
- Recognize and reward others often! The best recognitions are frequent, creative, and never embarrassing.
- When conflict or breakdowns occur, help the team resolve conflict in ways that do not end up with winners and losers. Be a unifying leader, not just in charge.
In order to be effective, a PM needs to be a mix of all four types. Each person will gravitate more to one personality type, but do not place too much pressure on yourself! Work on developing those skills that are not your strong suits. A great deal is expected of all project managers and they are often over-worked and underappreciated. Understanding your style and the style of your team members will help you to understand their process better and communicate more effectively.