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Streamline Project Management Templates

March 18 2010

How to streamline project management without killing the fun

Another way to look at it would be “How I made my customer happy without boring him to death!”  Project management can be both efficient and fun – much to the surprise of those outside of the online project management world.

Project management is generally looked upon as a methodical process.  And, for the most part, that’s true.  There are simply certain things that you ‘must do’ in order to help ensure the best chance for success on a project.

The Efficient Project Manager

You want to be an efficient project manager.  That means you need to streamline your process to help ensure success for the project, the team, and the customer.  In order to do that, you need to focus on the following:

– Engage the customer to work with you as part of the ‘team’
– Formalize your status reporting and do it regularly on a weekly basis
– Formalize your status calls with the customer and with your delivery team and have at least one formal call each week
– Manage issues and risks well and revisit them often – usually weekly depending on your project
– Above all else, communicate effectively.  As the project manager, your team and your customer are looking to you as the focal point on the project – keep everyone up to speed with both formal and informal (emails, phone calls, etc.) communication.

Managing teams of skilled resources and often demanding customers can be chaotic enough.  Ensuring that you have a regular schedule of expected project deliverables and communication points will definitely help you streamline your project processes.  And by creating more efficient and more reliable processes you are giving you and your projects greater chances for overall success.

Keep it Real, Keep it Fun

Project management is all about efficiency and streamlined processes.  That’s a given.  However, if you’re taking on the project manager role and you don’t mind having the target on your forehead for everything that can happen on a project, then you must also be a bit of a thrill-seeker as well.  That’s where the fun and use of Project Management Templates and the project manager comes in.

If you like to be in control and find yourself at your most creative and efficient when things are moving fast and you’re managing multiple projects at once, then you know what I mean.  For the project manager who likes to take charge of his teams and projects, the following three aspects of leading teams on critical projects can help make things more fun and interesting for you on the engagements you manage:

– Utilizing the latest technology – If at least some of the projects you’re managing allow the use of new or cutting edge technology, it tends to keep you and your team energized
– Having authority and flexibility to manage projects your way – Job autonomy is much more fun than micro-management and allows for you to feel comfortable incorporating efficient processes across the portfolio of projects you’re managing
– Incorporating some hands-on work – Be careful not to do this too much or you can lose control of other projects, but being able to get your hands dirty with some hands-on work on one or more of your projects can help keep things fresh

Summary

Unless you’re managing the largest project on earth, you’re likely handling more than one project at a time.  Some are fun, exciting and cutting edge and some are boring and can nearly put you to sleep due to their pace.  Usually, it’s a decent mix of both types.

No matter what, stick with the efficient processes mentioned above in order to stay the course and keep both your customer happy and your delivery team engaged.  Project success is much more likely if you follow a proven process and utilize efficient and effective communication.  And try to make it interesting by mixing in interesting technology, some hands-on work when possible, and remaining flexible to adjust as your project and customer requires it.