Originally published on Wrike Blog. Used with permission.
Critical path, scope creep, Kanban. If these words are foreign to you, you probably aren’t a project manager. Additionally, you may not think you can learn much from the basics of project management. Think again.
We conducted a survey across 1,464 employees about their work management processes, and discovered 94% of respondents manage projects on a regular basis. But only 47% have “project manager” in their job title or description. So even though you might not be a project manager, chances are, you’re managing a project or two.
Although there are several reasons to study project management, you don’t need to become a certified project manager right away. We’re simply suggesting that you learn project management principles to enhance your leadership skills.
Without further adieu, let’s dive into basic project management skills and how they can help you become a better manager:
1. Improves visibility
One of the more obvious reasons to invest in learning project management basics is that it will improve visibility across all ongoing work.
As a manager, it’s your responsibility to break through roadblocks and make sure work is evenly distributed across your team. With clear visibility into your team’s workload and a set process for how work gets done, you’re able to jump in when needed or shift tasks around to guarantee success. Project management methodologies can also help you gain optimum visibility. Here are a few of the most popular techniques:
- Waterfall: Since this method requires very clear goals and objectives, this style will ensure that goals are always top of mind with every step in the project.
- Scrum: This technique allows you to focus on the little wins by bringing stakeholders in constantly so there’s no confusion around expectations.
- Critical path: This style helps with resource planning by organizing your work into categories and mapping out the necessary resources for each task.
2. Encourages accountability
How often do you leave a meeting knowing exactly what you’re responsible for? According to our survey, 49% of respondents said “some of the time,” “rarely,” or “never.”
Having some solid project management techniques in your back pocket will keep your team accountable for their work and eliminate any confusion around responsibilities. When you see a task falling into the red zone, you can easily identify who should be nudged to get back in the green.
Project management tools allow you to assign tasks out and measure the performance of each individual by tracking their completed tasks. Basic functionalities, such as Dashboards and Reporting, let you visualize your team’s productivity and address any opportunities to improve.
3. Strengthens communication and collaboration
Healthy communication is instrumental in managing a successful team. If your team is struggling with communication, using a few basic project management concepts will aid collaboration.
Here are some key strategies to maintain effective communication and keep projects on track:
- Cancel status update meetings: Stop meeting to go over what everyone is working on. Instead, use a collaborative platform to track work so project progress is constantly visible.
- Dump email: Tired of looking for the final, final version of the attachment? Instead of sending files via email, use a versioning tool and archive the latest file in a digital asset management (DAM) solution so it’s readily available.
- Ditch spreadsheets: Spreadsheets aren’t made for collaboration — too much risk of outdated information. Leaving comments and direct feedback within the task ensures no communication falls through the cracks.
Basic project management training improves risk assessment and helps you spot mistakes and red flags before it’s too late. It also improves your problem solving, planning, and organizational skills. Learning and understanding basic Project management tools will increase your credibility and may help you edge out your competition.
4. Supports agility
What happens when a project goes in a completely different direction or a stakeholder changes their expectations at the last minute? Deadlines shift, resources run dry, and chaos ensues. Your team’s agility will determine how quickly and efficiently you’re able to recover from these changes.
Understanding project management basics and learning Agile techniques, such as Lean and Kanban, will help your team become more proactive so you can quickly cope with change and bounce back. In fact, 63% of Agile marketers say they are “very satisfied” with the way their team manages work according to our Agile Marketing Report. You can’t avoid change, so may as well learn how to embrace it.
5. Builds confidence
Investing in solutions to drive your team’s success will not only make you stand out as an excellent manager, but it will help build confidence and trust across your team. Having a clear path that’s rigid enough to provide structure, but flexible enough to adapt to your workflow, will provide performance metrics and reveal where your team excels. This also allows you to showcase your team’s hard work and gives you a reason to celebrate all wins, both big and small.
What project management basics helped you become a better manager?