What’s project management? According to the Project Management Institute (who probably knows a thing or two about the subject), it’s “The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” Who applies it? Project managers of course.
In other words, the project manager is responsible for uniting and guiding a team of people (who may or may not be coming from totally different departments and backgrounds) and assuring those people deliver work on-time and under budget.
Project management has always existed in one way or another, but the formal practice has exploded in popularity during the last decade. This is likely because more organizations are coming to understand the tremendous benefits that project management can provide. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2018 report, lost earnings due to poor project performance have dropped by 27% since 2013. Furthermore, organizations that champion PM practices have a 92% project success rate, compared to 32% for those who don’t.
Clearly, a good project manager can be an indispensable asset to a growing organization. But how does one become a good PM? Like any ambitious project, this one takes lots of planning, organization, and hard work. But we’ll get you started with the five qualities common to outstanding project managers.
1. Project managers are punctual
A project manager’s most important responsibilities are establishing timelines and making sure the team meets its deadlines. Suffice it to say, you there’s no room for flakiness, laziness, or lollygagging. Good PMs should be punctual and precise — not just in project sprints but in showing up to work and attending meetings, too.
2. They communicate clearly (and frequently)
To make sure projects are on track and issue-free, PMs must stay in close contact with their teams. But casual chats won’t do; clear communication is vital. Make sure your team knows what’s expected and when. Put it in writing whenever possible. Schedule daily stand-up meetings every morning, and broadcast expectations and challenges where everyone can hear. Be tactful and respectful, but don’t be afraid to be honest if someone isn’t doing their job and team productivity is at risk.
3. They plan for Murphy’s Law
As the old adage goes, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Good project managers know that it’s not possible to avoid every catastrophe that the future holds, but it is possible to plan around them. Try to anticipate what problems may surface in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Formulate backup plans in case those problems do come to pass. And when you do get stuck in a quagmire, don’t panic. Your reactions can set the tone for the entire team.
4. They manage expectations
Speaking truth to power is rarely easy, but it’s essential for your success as a PM. Resist the urge to people-please! When faced with unrealistic requests, unreasonable deadlines, or impossible goals, it’s always better to politely push back and re-negotiate project expectations than to agree out of hand and set your team up for future failure.
5. They protect their teams
It doesn’t matter if it’s UX, creative, or web dev — if the team is talented, people across the company will be playing tug-of-war over their time and resources. As a project manager, you’re their first and last line of defense. Protect them from productivity vampires that threaten to run them ragged and derail your best-laid project plans. Help them maintain work/life balance. Chances are, they’ll repay the favor with respect for your management process and renewed enthusiasm for your mutual goals.
Hopefully, you now have more than just an answer to the question, “What is project management?”—you also have the fundamentals for PM success! But there’s more preparation to be done. The Project Management Certification Bundle can help you complete your PM education, and grab some resume-boosting certifications in the process. This six-part training suite usually costs a pretty penny: $3,188, to be exact. But today you can take advantage of a huge discount and pick it up for only $49