project management

By  Matt Shealy

What makes the difference between a successful project manager and one that just stumbles through a job?

In part, a successful project manager utilizes smart project management strategies to get more done in less time, possibly even with fewer resources.

How do they do this? What is the “secret sauce” that goes into a successful project?

3 Project Management Strategies to Improve Productivity

While there is no set number of good project management strategies to master, we can start with three basic approaches that are tried and tested. These involve the start of the project (defining the project), the middle of the project (monitoring progress), and the end of the project (managing “scope creep” so you can actually finish the project on time).

1. Starting Off with a Strong Project Definition Document

If you are working for a consulting firm or doing a project that involves a client, likely, your project definition document will be the proposal you provided in response to the RFP (Request for Proposal). The proposal should outline clearly what the project is about, the scope of the project, what approach is being taken to accomplish project goals, how long the project will take, and its total cost.

Once the proposal has been approved, you may then have to negotiate certain points with the client (such as deadlines and cost). In the end, however, you should have a very clearly defined project outline that is signed by both the client and a representative from your company.

The biggest mistake you can make here is having a wishy-washy, unclear document.

Now, if you are working on a project in-house, you may think you do not need such a detailed project document. However, it is still a good idea to have one. This makes things clear for both the project team and the stakeholders involved.

2. Thoroughly Track the Project’s Progress

Having a detailed project plan in place is a great first step but it won’t ensure everything goes as expected. One delay can lead into another and another, creating a snowball effect. Left unchecked, these can completely derail a project’s success.

Tracking the project’s progress, and what your resources are up to, will be a lifesaver. The best way to do this is with visual project management software. By leveraging these tools your project managers can have full visibility into where the bottlenecks are and react in real-time.

While technology can eliminate a lot of wasted time in meetings, you should still set periodic meetings to effectively communicate where the project is with the team.

3. Kill Off Scope Creep Before It Kills You

Scope creep is when you are in the middle of a project and the client or stakeholder suddenly rings you up and says something like “Hey, I have an idea, let’s add a brand new social media platform to our website – it’ll be a hit!” The answer to this is no, no, no.

Of course, your job as project manager is to be part diplomat, part general, as you keep your troops in line (don’t let them start adding new stuff to the project) and properly manage the expectations of the stakeholders.

If you have the project document clearly outlined, then you can reference that to stop scope creep.

Get More Done with Better Project Management Strategies

The great thing about implementing these three project management strategies is that a little bit of effort results in a huge payoff. By clearly defining the project, tracking the progress of the project, and minimizing scope creep, your project can be a huge success.

Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Project manager stock photo by NicoElNino/Shutterstock