As a project manager, you will face a lot of challenges in your career. Especially when you are running an online startup, there will come a time when your business grows to the point where things seem like they might start falling apart. You will be facing multiple project timelines that you need to align and accomplish. There will be resources that you need to handle, as well as budgeting needs that need to be met.
This requires a lot of skills. Just figuring out these three main components of any project is not easy. But, when you add multiple projects and hundreds of smaller details, you will have your hands full! However, project managers are key players in a business, and being a good project manager means you are running a successful business. After all, projects are one of the basic ways in which you interact with clients, as well as being a good source of income.
So, to brave this challenge, you will need to have a good management system. It will require a lot of effective planning – and this is a skill you need to learn. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to ensure success as an online project manager. However, through research and a willingness to learn, you can easily improve your management skills. Today, we’ll take a look at some things that every good online project manager needs to know.
Analyze Your Projects & What You Might Be Doing Wrong
One of the main traits of successful people is that they analyze what they are doing – and aren’t afraid to admit that they have done something wrong. Only by doing this can you actually change that and improve upon it. This same logic applies to online project management as well.
A big mistake that a lot of startups make is that they only respond to project needs. They build a system around the first project that they receive, and then when something new comes around, they add to this system. This is a mistake because it doesn’t offer flexibility that you need to have in online project management. It can also put a lot of strain on the system when your business starts growing – because you created it around only dealing with one project at a time.
Take the software businesses use, for example. Usually, they will go for something “easy” and familiar – like Microsoft Office Excel. In 2010, Forrester found that 81% of businesses involved in its survey used Office 2007, with 78% also using SharePoint and only 4% using Google Apps and similar online software. In 2019, Aberdeen Group found this number to have grown to 89%. But, like we mentioned, as your online business grows, using an offline software like this will only cause problems in the long run.
Migrate to an Efficient Project Management Software
One of the main reasons that business experts are against using an offline software is that you can easily lose your data. Especially when you are a bigger company, you will be dealing with thousands of important data points. This is why you need to streamline your project management system, which will record your data, make copies of it and safely store it away.
The second major issue is time tracking. In offline software, this is often automatic. Your employees need to deal with filling up the timesheets – which no one really enjoys. However, there are many great project management apps that track your time automatically and with ease!
This all it tied to efficiency, which is another huge drawback of using the wrong software to set up your project management system. For example, a lot of apps will require you to fill in the clients’ data repeatedly. This will only cause your team to lose a lot of time and resources, which can instead be streamlined and put to good use on other tasks. This is why good project portfolio management software will track all your data across multiple projects, and save you these resources in return.
Finally, one of the major hardships that online businesses face is the question of communication within the team – as well as with the client. You can try to run meetings, but constant and instant communication during project development is important. This is why you need good software and a good platform to communicate with clients. Luckily, the technological world is always advancing and offering many opportunities for this. For example, eMarketer believes that LinkedIn will become a powerful communication tool in 2020.
Get to Know the Project Inside and Out
Once you set up a solid project management system, it’s time to dive into dealing with the project. One of the major problems that startups create for themselves is that they try to find easy fixes to all the problems. They believe that the sooner they are done, the sooner they will get paid and jump on the next project.
However, in order to do everything well and in a way that will help your business improve and grow, you need to set up a good foundation for every project. This mainly boils down to understanding who your clients are, and who the stakeholders in the project are. They will all have their own unique interests and it is up to you, as a project manager, to align them and meet everyone’s needs.
This should serve as a guiding principle to creating the project timeline and setting everything up. You would not believe just how much having a solid plan can shape the rest of your project. Everyone in the team needs to know what their roles and duties are, as well as the deadline they need to meet. To help you with this, you can use goals, objectives and tasks. However, when assigning them, you need to make sure that you can follow their success and measure it correctly. Only that way can you properly manage the project.
Try to Keep Everything Streamlined
As we already mentioned above, it’s important to create a project management system that relies on being streamlined. This applies not only to data, but to everything pertaining to your project, and it is really beneficial to its success. The best way to do this is to try and keep everything in one place. A lot of people will keep their email conversations separated from their contracts, which are again separated from the documents. But having a software and system in place which encompasses all of this, you will save a lot of time. What’s more, you will also be significantly reducing the chances of losing data in this way.
The second part of streamlining your project is how you deal with the resources. As your online business grows, you will require more and more resources to meet all the projects’ many needs. Because of this, it crucial to know exactly how you will get to the resources you will need. For example, 3dcart offers resources for many online businesses. Knowing where to look means being a good and reliable project manager.
Finally, you will also need to know exactly who you need to finish the project and how they will work in a team. As a project manager, this can sometimes be the most difficult task. It is up to you to decide just what the qualities of each team member are, and how you can best utilize them in a project. Also, just like with resources, you will need to know exactly where to look and who to contact for new team members. For example, you might need to contact the HR department so they can help you find the best professional you need.
Figure Out the Best Way to Track Your Timelines
After you create a good basis for your project, which includes setting up the resources and the team, it is time to create a perfect project timeline. In an ideal world, once you set all the components of a project, you would just sit back and relax. However, no matter how perfect your team might be, you are still the project manager. This is why you will need to look over the whole process from the start to beginning. If there is ever something not working, it is your task to change it and shift the project or the resources around to make sure you meet deadlines.
What’s more, having to deal with multiple projects at the same time can give you extra issues. It might feel like a balancing act between multiple deadlines, and it can be hard to follow. For this reason, you need to have a good timeline of the project – and find a way to track it correctly.
The best way to do this is through the use of milestones. These are somewhat defining moments of your project. They are the things you are aiming to achieve and not necessarily tasks or obligations. For example, you can divide your project into multiple phases and consider each one of them a milestone. So, you can have a milestone for project initiation, then for the end of the planning phase, project execution and finalization.
Milestones are important because they serve as a unique vantage point into the inner workings of a project. At each of these milestones, you will sit back and reevaluate the project. Then, you can see just how well (or not) you are doing and decide how to proceed from there. If you are running late, your team might need to put in more work. Conversely, if you are doing fine, you can maybe focus on other aspects of the project – or look into finishing up what you are doing with even more quality!
Finishing Up the Project & Evaluation
Finally, you shouldn’t just evaluate your project at the milestones. After you are done with the whole thing, you need to go back and examine just how the whole process went. You can use each project as a learning step – and improve and grow your online business from it.
So, review the project, as well as the different parts of it. Look into what worked out for you and your team, and what requires more work in the future. Remember, even if the project was a failure, you can still learn from it; what matters is that you are honest about it and dedicated to improving. This ties back to what we said about accepting that you are doing something wrong. Only with deep and honest introspection can you improve and become the best online project manager you can possibly be!