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Project Management 101 – Simple Guidelines to being an Effective Project Manager

By Brad Meucci

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We live in a world where people want things done yesterday, and most don’t usually care what needs to happen to get it done. With effective time management and strong organization skills (both internal & external), a good Project Manager (PM) can be a savior. Here are a few simple guidelines to making miracles happen:

Educate Your Clients – As the saying goes, “An educated client is a good client.” By this, of course, I mean that you need to explain how your process works (how things can be done most effectively), and what they can do to help make things go smoothly. I’m not saying that you need to set strict rules that can’t be broken, but rather give them simple guidelines to follow that will help you produce the best product for them. Having a documented system not only shows clients exactly what they need to do, but also it adds credibility to your firm as a whole.

Set Expectations – Similar to educating your clients, setting expectations can help assure that everyone is on the same page throughout the project. While planning out each step in the process isn’t always easy, making sure the client knows when you need feedback keeps the process moving.

This leads me into the third guideline, which is…

Communicate – This cannot be stressed enough! The only true way to make sure something gets done on schedule and budget is having open lines of communication. There’s nothing worse than wasting time trying to guess what a client meant in an email, when you could have easily picked up the phone and asked them to clarify something. Too many times we find that a five-minute phone call can save an hour of unnecessary revisions.

Know Your Team’s Schedule – Clients are ALWAYS going to ask for things on short deadlines, so it’s vital to know what your team can and cannot handle. This includes knowing where every active project is at a given time, as well as each project’s priority level. While every project often seems like it’s the most important, many times you can find extra time with creative priority shifting.

The skills involved in being an effective Project Manager are not developed overnight. But by following these simple guidelines, in time you will find that you’re able to save time and make more clients happy.

Besides these guidelines, what other best practices work for you?

One thought on “Project Management 101 – Simple Guidelines to being an Effective Project Manager

  1. Brad,

    I agree with you on all of your project management guidelines. I particularly think that setting expectations and communication with one’s clients tend to really go a long way. In many projects I’ve managed, regular communication via biweekly teleconferences or just monthly status reports have allowed me to continually manage my client’s expectations. Keeping the client in the loop in this way helps to establish a good working relationship, build repor and ensures that both parties see eye to eye.

    In addition to your guidelines mentioned, having a standardized work flow for each project consisting of the same or similar phases for each, is another good guideline. This kind of relates back to the “strong organizational skills” you mentioned in your introduction. Having standardized methods in place helps the individuals and the organization as a whole churn out more consistant work and increases the project cycle efficiency.

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