November 21, 2012 - FILED UNDER Agile Business
5 Easy Ways to Improve Online Project Management
Today businesses are shifting more and more project management online. These new online project management tools offer a host of added benefits. For example, project managers can easily add both people directly and indirectly involved in a project to increase overall transparency. However while these great new tools do bring a lot to the table, they are still not without their own set of unique problems. Factors like poor leadership, lack of organization, absence of communication, and numerous other maladies can quickly derail an online project management campaign. Yuck. For those of you who want to avoid these project mishaps, here are 5 helpful tips to help your next project run more smoothly.
1. Identify & Develop Team Leaders
“The most important part of running a project management campaign is to identify a team of leaders,” writes Karen Smith in a recent blog post. Usually at the onset of a project, a large amount of time is spent gathering and aligning all the necessary resources. However during this phase, a disproportionately small amount of time is typically given to selecting the team’s project manager. This is a huge mistake. Even the best teams can fail if they have a sub-par project manager. “Do your business a favor and cultivate a team of leaders who thoroughly understand the dynamics of your project management system and are also good at motivating and coaching team members,” suggests Smith. This way you can rest assured that you’re leaving the project in good hands.
We all understand that without communication, things fall apart. This counts double for projects. To be successful, teams must be in constant communication with each other. This helps maintain order and build camaraderie. During a project, make it a top priority to arrange regularly scheduled team meetings (whether virtually or in-person). You can never underestimate the power of having a face-to-face interaction, so make it a point to have a weekly meeting.
Additionally, teams should actively encourage the use of as many other communication tools as possible. This may seem like a lot of unnecessary work, but the goal is for a team to create a culture of communication. It increases transparency and helps everyone understand how their individual tasks fit into the larger scheme of things. By encouraging the use of lots of different communication tools, you are helping make it as easy as possible to foster this type of culture.
3. Train them, Train them Good
Picking up a new tool is never as “easy as it should be” regardless of the claims from the provider. Picking up a new tool not only requires the alteration of habits, but also takes time to learn. When picking up a new tool, be sure to inquire about the onboarding process – investigate to see if they offer training, have FAQs, or recorded tutorials that you can easily access. All this information will only help speed up the time it takes for you and your team to become pros.
4. Encourage & Embrace Feedback
Just as frequent and open communication is essential for project success, so is encouraging and embracing feedback. Make it a point to check-in with your team after each project, ask them how the like the software, is there anything they would change about it? Eliciting team feedback is a great way to see if the tool is really a good fit for you and your team. Be sure to encourage team leaders to inform you of any problems of changes that take place within their teams during the project. Gathering information about how the tools were used and what could be done better is as important as completing a project on time. Without feedback, you’re opening your company up to tons of possible future headaches and problems.
5. Be Organized
Just because you’re using project management software doesn’t mean that you can let your organization slip a little. In fact it’s quite the opposite, online project management depends heavily upon organization. If you’re not organized, you’ll quickly end up with a mess on your hands. “Create a system that works for the company as a whole and make sure everyone adheres to that system,” says Smith. Even something as small as forgetting to check off an uploaded file or not naming it correctly can kill productivity. As long as you develop and (more importantly stick with) a system you’ll be set for smooth sailing.
As online project management becomes more and more popular, it’s important to be aware of these five tips to help you make sure you get the most out of your efforts