Modern Project Management: Best practices for leveraging latest trends and tools
Project management best practices are constantly evolving, driven by the increasing speed of decision making, recent development of process frameworks and rapidly increasing capabilities of available technology tools. By taking advantage of these developments, project managers can become more effective and more successful. Consider implementing the following tips to increase project management efficiency and effectiveness.
Apply an agile approach to better meet stakeholder needs
Many business leaders are required to make decisions faster than before. Their decisions are also becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. By applying more agile methods, project managers can design working practices that will help their project stakeholders get more value from results:
a) Deliver continuous results in smaller pieces. Sharing insights as soon as they are available enables a more continuous flow of feedback, provides an opportunity to revisit priorities, and lets stakeholders use results immediately, without waiting for the final report.
b) Schedule regular, frequent meetings with project stakeholders (e.g. 30 min once per week). Use the time to share and present new key highlights, discuss questions and suggestions, and brainstorm on the impact of new project findings. Remember to share meeting agendas in advance and distribute action items at the end of meetings.
c) Be prepared to respond to the unexpected changes that have an impact on research priorities and the scope of the project. By providing this flexibility, you provide stakeholders with confidence that the results of the project will be relevant to their changing needs. This may include management of the project budget, resources, timelines, and stakeholder expectations.
Use the latest features and tools to manage projects more effectively
The number of collaboration tools available for effective project management is growing. Examples include document sharing tools (e.g. OneDrive, Google Drive), document editing tools (e.g. Dropbox Paper, Google Docs), project and task management software (e.g. Trello, Asana), and messaging and meeting apps (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Slack). More importantly, the capabilities of these tools are becoming more advanced. By using the latest technology tools, project managers can increase the level of collaboration, which in turn will contribute to higher stakeholder satisfaction, and results being more aligned with the project objectives.
a) Use the capabilities that are a good fit with your project objectives, for example:
- Real-time collaboration features, such as commenting, co-authoring, and @mentions can increase the level of contribution from all project stakeholders.
- Project and task management tools can help the project manager and the team to quickly adjust to the changes in the project scope and requirements, e.g. by quickly updating the task assignments, task deadlines, and task priorities.
- Video conferencing tools (with the video turned on!) can help in building better relationships with the project stakeholders, which in turn increases the level of engagement. You may still find a lot of resistance towards turning the video on during online meetings, so lead by example by always starting your calls with video on.
b) Test the tools that your team already has access to or is familiar with, before searching for alternatives. Using tools others already use can increase company-wide adoption while using ones you already have access to is more budget-friendly. Consider switching to another tool if the one you have does not meet your team’s needs.
c) Provide training to the team when required, chat about the functionalities of the tool, and lead by example by using the tool as intended. To make sure that the suggested tools are not a hassle, it is a good practice to help everyone involved to get familiar with the key features that will help with their project work.
It is important to keep in mind that using the tool is not a goal. The objective of using the tool is to increase the effectiveness of the project and satisfaction of the project stakeholders, including the project team.
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