How to improve your project management skills

How to improve your project management skills

In addition to strengthening skills that will help you manage projects and stress more effectively, implement these five steps each time you commence a new body of work to ensure you’ve prioritised the most important task first, and that you have the resources and support you need to get the job done.

Start strong

Meet with your manager to ensure the projects you’re working on align to wider team, department and organisational priorities. You may find, for example, that some of the assignments you deemed urgent can wait until the new financial quarter commences, or that a web design agency will be engaged to assist with a particular part of the project. In this same discussion, start talking with your manager about the resources you need to complete projects, and agree to timeframes that are ambitious, but able to be met by all parties.

While strong communication skills are important for all elements of project management, they are particularly critical at this stage. This is the stage in which projects, timelines and resources are being decided. It’s also a time in which to be upfront about any concerns you have, so they can resolved early and managed throughout the project’s duration.

Engage your stakeholders

Seek the contributions and feedback of colleagues, stakeholders and leaders in, and external to your organisation. Use a combination of ideas and strategies to determine the best course of action when you’re confronted with a difficult or unknown situation. Having trouble creating a formula in Excel? Need to pull a complex report from SAP? Chances are, someone on the team has the experience to help you out, saving you time and frustration.

Be goal oriented

Direct your energy toward situations where you can affect the outcome, and don’t spend time worrying about what you can’t impact or control. You may not be able to move a tight deadline, but you can ask your supervisor to take a project off your plate, at least temporarily, so you can tackle the immediate need. Stay focused on the goals you need and want to achieve, so your work is focussed and pointed too.

Use apps and tested project management tools

There are many digital (and often free) tools to help you better manage time, projects and people. They offer ways of dividing projects, managing conversations, tracking notes and storing important documents that can help you get organised with ease, and keep you on track throughout the project’s lifespan. Try online programs and apps such as Asana, Trello or Basecamp to really kick your project management skills into gear.

Be prepared

Use quieter periods in between different projects to prepare for the next busy phase. It can be hard to see the wood from the trees when you’re under pressure, so you’ll thank yourself for having undertaken even a small amount of preparatory work. Organise your files and determine what resources you might need going forward. This will increase your efficiency and allow you to be more productive, having got much of the administrative work out of the way.

Large workloads and challenging deadlines can put anyone’s constitution to the test in the workplace, so don’t be hard on yourself if on occasion you still find you’re stressed or overwhelmed.

Developing project management skills is a career-long pursuit and one that takes time and practice. Implement these project management steps to help you work more efficiently and enjoyably, no matter what role or industry you’re in.

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