How to Become a Successful Project Manager

Whether you are stating a new business, just hired at an organization or promoted to project manager, it is important to have the right knowledge and obtain the skills needed for a successful project. As a project manager, you will need to follow specific steps to succeed. You will also apply the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in your toolkit to meet your project’s goals. The qualities and skills needed to be a successful project manager can be learned during a business administration program so anyone that is motivated can become a project manager.

Project Management Steps to Success

There are five steps to project management success. They include planning, executing, monitoring, meeting criteria and achieving goals. Mastering these steps will allow any team to thrive.

Step #1: Plan

A team needs a roadmap to know where they started, where they are going and how to achieve their goals. The elements of planning include priority, time and measurement. It is important to create criteria and goals based on these three elements. What is the priority of the project? When does the project need to be completed? How do we measure success? Answering these three questions will help define the plan, allowing you to meet criteria and ultimately achieve your project’s goal.

Step #2: Execute

Start by defining the who, what, when, how and why. Who is responsible for the project and what team members are going to support the leader of the project? What are you trying to accomplish with the project? When can you expect the project to happen? How are you going to execute the plan of action and how are you going to gauge success? Why are you doing the project in the first place? What is the expected outcome? How will you monitor success? All of these questions are great to ask yourself when starting to plan and execute a project. With the answers to these questions, you will be well on your way to achieving your project’s goals.

Step #3: Monitor

This step in the project involves the tracking and assessment of the results of the project. Monitoring a project can be even more important than identifying the strategic goals. The advantage of monitoring a project is that the team can successfully follow the direction established during the planning phase. The plan should identify who is responsible for monitoring the project, whether criteria is met, and if the goals are achieved. With proper monitoring, issues can be identified and resolved before the project gets too far of track. Constant monitoring throughout the execution phase is important for the success of the project.

When monitoring a project, ask yourself a few questions. Will the goals be achieved during the proper timeline set in the planning phase? Should we change the deadlines? Does the team have all the resources they need to succeed? Should the criteria or goals change? The answers to the questions will help you ensure the success of the project.

The final part of the monitoring step is reporting to all stakeholders. What are the trends seen in the data? Are you making progress to achieve the goals in the timeframe set? Do you need any clarity about the plan or goals? Do you need any help from management to complete the project? Continue to answer these questions and keep monitoring the success of the project until all criteria are met, and goals are achieved.

Step #4: Meet Criteria

The team leader must understand the benchmarks of success. Where are we starting? How are we going to measure the outcome of the project? These project measurements must be shared with all stakeholders. The project’s criteria must be well defined in order to understand when there is success. Consider the cost, scope and time available for the project. These three elements will help the project get completed on budget, and on time.

Step #5: Achieve Goals

You won’t know if you are successful unless you set goals and achieve them. As a project manager, setting goals is important. The goals need to be challenging but not impossible. Start with both short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goals will give you stepping-stones that keep you on track to those long-term goals. Once you achieve those long-term goals, you can move on to a more challenging project.

Project Management Skills

To be a successful project manager, you must obtain skills. You can gain these skills while attending a business administration program and while on the job. Continuing to learn more about project management skills throughout your career and honing them to a mastery level will keep your value from diminishing. The project management skills that are most important are collaboration, vision, time management, attention to detail, managing risk and team spirit.

Skill #1: Collaboration

An important skill for any project manager, to be successful, is an ability to collaborate. It takes more than one person to complete a complex project. Having the ability to collaborate helps you and your team bounce ideas of each other and come up with the best solution. To properly collaborate on a project, the team must be aware of the shared purpose. The team must work together to a common goal to achieve success. As team leader, you must motivate the team members to participate in the project. Collaboration also involves sharing responsibility and considering alternatives. Everyone on the team must proactively engage to make sure the goals are met by the end of the project.

Skill #2: Vision

A project manager must see the finish line, even before starting the race. Only with vision can a project succeed. With vision, the plan is fully mapped out from the beginning, the team understands how to execute the plan, monitoring can be done, the criteria are set in stone and goals can be achieved. With vision, your project has a clear focus and it will stay on track throughout the entire process.

Skill #3: Time Management

Most projects have deadlines. It seems like everything you do in a project could be better. A little more time could always be taken to perfect every part of the project. However, understanding how much time you have for each step is critical in achieving your goals. Most stakeholders will want the project to hit the deadline. This will make them satisfied with the outcome of the project. Good time management skills involve the ability to prioritize more important aspects of the project over others. A good project manager can also delegate and make the most of the team’s time. With the proper management of time, you can execute the plan and meet the anticipated goals.

Skill #4: Attention to Detail

Nothing is more important than attention to detail. Every detail is important in a project and even one mistake can set it back. Mistakes can derail the project and cause it to miss the deadline. Attention to detail will allow you to be more productive, efficient and perform successfully.

Skill #5: Managing Risk

Risk is an important part of any project. Take on too much risk and you may not execute the plan. Don’t take enough risk and you may not come up with the best solution for the most satisfying outcome. Balancing risk is important so that you maximize the time spent and realize the best outcome.

Skill #6: Team Spirit

Everyone needs to work together to meet the common goal. As a project manager, you will need to lead the team and motivate them to work together. Everyone should have the same marching orders and listen to others’ ideas. Everyone should have a say and share responsibility. In the end, this will allow everyone to share in the project’s success.

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University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.

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