Project Managers Are Amazing
Whether you are on a team doing web development, digital marketing, or involved in creative work of some kind, let’s agree on one thing. Project Management, Client Services, and Project Managers never get the love they deserve. These men and women form the backbone of any great agency, and are influential in so many ways. A Project Manager is always there when needed and always go above and beyond what is required of them. This ranges from assisting clients, to managing reputation, or employing extreme problem solving skills.
Here are 8 steps to being an amazing Project Manager!
Lay the Tracks Before the Train Gets There
Before any agreement is made between you, your agency, and your client, you should lay a strong foundation – a clear and concise path for the train to travel down. Establish how you will communicate with your client so there are no hangups in the approval process. Know what you can promise, and how long those things will take. Setting up expectations beforehand is essential in delivering on time. Creating a roadmap of your progress shows the entire team where they are, what is left to accomplish, and where things may be lagging. Creating work tickets and checklists ensure that the project stays on track. Have your tools polished and organized. Simply put, be prepared. As a project manager, this is the best way to tackle potential obstacles, and avoid derailing the train.
Establish Client Rapport and Trust
This is perhaps the most important step every Project Manager needs to consider with a new project. So much in the process involves client feedback and approval. Efficiency in communication here will save untold amounts of time and money for both parties. If the Project Manager has rapport with their client, messages can be shorter, things can be communicated faster, and through more convenient mediums. Trust will allow the client to speak candidly, directly, and ideas will be more accurately framed. Avoiding confusion and misinterpretation will streamline the approval process. Effective communication equates to efficiency. That is the golden ticket to being an amazing Project Manager.
Be Consistent with Your Communication
Texting your friends every minute? Too much communication. Calling your boyfriend or girlfriend all the time when you aren’t around? Too much communication. Staying in touch your client on a daily, regular and consistent basis? The perfect amount of communication. You never want your client to make assumptions about the work that is being done, or be desperately trying to talk with you about something. Have detailed meetings set in stone, that way your client can know when they will hear from you. Feel free to stay in touch when outside of those parameters to make sure your client is comfortable with that level of communication.
Use the Right Tools for the Job
Just as designers, developers, and marketers have tools they need to accomplish their tasks, Project Managers have a slew of useful applications and programs at their disposal. Whether it be a messaging platform, cloud-based storage, or time-tracking integrations, the most difficult part is choosing the perfect combination to make up their toolkit. There isn’t necessarily a right answer. As long as each system is properly vetted with research and experimentation, it really boils down to what you are comfortable working with. Because in the end, efficiencies are gained through repeated use and familiarity. If you want to maximize your impact as a Project Manager, take a moment to determine the best toolkit for your team.
Flexibility and Adaptation over Mastery (unless you’re a master at being flexible)
The tech world is renowned for being one thing above all else: ever-changing. Becoming an expert in a single area is almost never a bad idea, depending on the topic. But tides change so rapidly in this industry, and what once was at the forefront, can very easily be replaced with something new. If you or your team is incapable of adaptation, you might lose a competitive edge. Being flexible is helpful in other areas as well. Working with clients that change their minds often, or dealing with acts of god that disrupt your timeline, will be very challenging for a rigid Project Manager. When the winds of change come, you want to ensure you can bend with them, or else you’ll snap.
Be An Available Project Manager
As a Project Manager for an agency, or even for a small team, there may be times when you have a client, or coworker, in a different time zone. It is important in these cases that you are available if and when they need you. As inconvenient as it may seem, these are the small details that make great Project Managers and agencies stand out. Being as available as possible for your clients shows determination, dedication, and loyalty. Your clients will remember all of those traits are, and will take them into consideration when looking for future work to be done. The same can be said for your team. The Project Manager is the hub of communication between departments, and if they are hard to get ahold of, chances of success decrease. Be there for your team and they will be there for you.
Deliver on Your Promises, or Don’t Make Them
Realistic expectations are the key to success in Project Management. Of course there will be times when push comes to shove. But the goal of a good Project Manager is to mitigate time loss and threats to the deadline. Use your team’s experience to accurately estimate the timeline for a project. Tell your client what is possible. Then deliver what you said you would. The worst thing you can do is promise the moon and fall short. However the best thing you can do is….
Always Overdeliver; Leave Them Wanting More
You’ve heard the old adage, “underpromise, overdeliver.” Nowhere is this more true than in Project Management. Because you are the point of contact for the client, you are responsible for your team’s reputation in their eyes. Delivering a high quality product and excellent customer service will leave them with nothing but good things to say. And in the age of online reviews, this is both preferable and essential to the success of your company. So as the gatekeeper of that reputation, always overdeliver. Exceed their expectations every time and you’ll see no end to clients lining up to work with you.