Six plus years in managing high stakes projects have helped me learn a trick or two in how to manage projects, deliverables and timelines effectively. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t like to run from deadline to deadline like a headless chicken. But truth is, been there, done that.
Being in a client-facing role for over six years, I often need to manage a number of projects both internally and externally, execute on deliverables, stick to strict deadlines, and sometimes do the impossible to make it all work out. Over time, I have learned that if done well, so much of it can be in my control. Aside from the classic project management tips and techniques, I’ve narrowed it down to four tips that help me manage projects, deliverables and timelines effectively. You can also look at them as more of guiding principles, as I don’t use them strictly on projects, but also on my day to day to manage my work.
So here are they are, my four tips to manage projects more effectively:
- Manage expectations – Start with this one, first. Especially if you are the one managing the project/deliverable, make sure you set an achievable timeline from the very start. You might feel compelled to deliver quickly to your client and sound like a superhero in that one meeting, but remember that the key is to always underpromise and overdeliver, and not the other way around.
- Prioritise – Depending on the project, you will want to prioritise the items that will have the biggest impact so make sure you know how to identify these. Other times you will need to use the classic urgent/important matrix, however, sometimes, all you need is a low-hanging fruit which is by definition easy to tick off. Make sure you assess the situation correctly and know what is needed so you don’t waste your time.
- Delegate – Always delegate what can be done by others. Holding on to workstreams for the sake of doing so will only overburden you and will also put the project timeline at risk. Learn to delegate – make sure you do proper onboarding where needed – and never look back.
- Escalate – Is it something out of your responsibility, do you need more resources on the project or do you need to keep management in the loop? Be quick in escalating to your manager or the responsible management team to ensure the fire does not blow out of proportions, you don’t over stress and it gets solved quickly. Don’t hold onto mistakes, focus on finding a solution and move on quickly.
These are my four tips to manage projects more effectively. I use them in more formal projects but also as part of my day to day, and as guiding principles for my work. They help me set boundaries and be more effective and also efficient with my time.
What about you? Any tips you swear by? I’d love to learn a few more and hear from you in the comments section below.