Here is a list of the top 9 project management best practices any project manager should adopt. This is the perfect guide to keep in hand before the start of any project. Using these best practices will allow you to become proactive instead of reactive when managing your projects and your teams.

1. Anticipe Risks with a Pre-mortem 

Before the start of any project, project managers should conduct a pre-mortem meeting. It allows project managers and their teams to think about project failure before it actually happens.

That way projects can be improved and project managers can come up with several risk management strategies to efficiently deal with any issues without it hindering or comprising the delivery of your projects. Here's how to conduct a pre-mortem meeting.

2. Plan, plan, plan

Project planning is a the heart of the project life cycle, it's one of the most important steps in project management.

Effective project planning helps project managers and their teams better understand how the project is going to managed and controlled, including crucial details such as who will be completing each task, the deliverables that will be produced, the goals & objectives the project will achieve, the estimated budget and costs as well as the amount of time it will take to complete the project. 

Project managers need effective project planning to make sure the project remains on track. Moreover, if any delays or changes occur the project manager will be able to react accordingly and take the necessary corrective actions. 

Here are three steps for effective project planning:

  • First of all, create your project plan, it's a document that covers every aspect of the project and its management. 
  • Once that's done you can start breaking down your project into more manageable parts thanks to a work breakdown structure or WBS.
  • Then, you can create your project schedule where you'll be managing two of the most important factors that can impact the success of your projects: Time & Resources.  

3. Ensure all stakeholder needs are met

The stakeholder analysis, sometimes known as "Power-Interest matrix", is an effective process to ensure the success of your projects. It helps you take into account the positive and negative actors that will influence the realisation of your project.

Stakeholders could include: your customers, your employees, your project team, your suppliers or even the public.

Most of the time, several stakeholders are involved at each step of the project. These stakeholders can slow the project down and even endanger its delivery. Therefore it is  essential to know and understand their expectations to avoid conflicts at all costs.

4. Exploit your data

Several indicators can help you properly monitor and track your projects. For example, was my project delivered on time? Did the quality of the product or service correspond to the expectations of the stakeholders? Did we exceed our budget? 

To improve the performance of your business, measuring project success can be a helpful tool. Fewer mistakes will be made and higher performance will be achieved.

Another thing you could do is measure the Earned value (EV) of your projects. It helps project managers measure a project's performance. Calculating the earned value will allow you to identify gaps in your project planning giving you the opportunity to take corrective actions early on. 

5. Make the most out of your time

There are several methods project managers and their teams can apply to optimize their time. First of all, you could implement a timesheet system. It will provide you with valuable information such as the type of activities your employees are working on, how much time they're spending on each of these activities and the monetary value tied to these activities. 

Moreover, you could make the most out of your time by  prioritizing your activities. You could also for example, reduce the time spent on non-billable hours hours such as administrative tasks. 

As a project manager maximising your time spent on your most important activities will allow you to have a better view of your business’ long-term strategy. To help you out, we created a Time Management Audit Workshop applicable to companies that bill their time.

6. Communication Is Key

In every organization communication is a recurring problem, it's a vital project management skill.  According to Albert Durig, communication can be the source of strong alignment and synchronization between moving parts of a complex project. It becomes all the more important when coordinating your teams' efforts. 

Project planning is useless if it's not communicated properly which is why the project manager must be very clear about what he's doing and what everyone else should be doing. Establishing clear roles and responsibilities will help team members have a better understanding of what is expected of them.

Especially when there are so many stakeholders involved in the delivery of a project. Clearly outlining everyone's purpose will allow the project to run smoothly. 

7. Manage risks

Risks are events that can prevent the success of your projects. To help you out, we have created a Risk Analysis Matrix to help you forecast negative events (risks) that could occur in a project in order to be better prepared or to reduce their likelihood. Not managing risks efficiently is one of the reasons why projects fail.  

Risk management is helps project managers forecast these tricky situations in order to identify strategies that decreases their likelihood: you’ll be able to better understand those risks and the consequences on your project, and you’ll easily identify those who will have the greatest impact on your project.

8. Learn from your mistakes

A post-mortem is a classic project management tool that helps you learn from what went well and what went wrong with every single one of your projects. It's usually conducted at the end of every project. The purpose of the post-mortem is to learn from your mistakes so that you can stop repeating them in the future. Here's how to conduct an effective post-mortem meeting and how it can be applied for other endeavours

9. Install A Project Management Software

A large number of project managers use Excel to manage complex information related to their activities and their employees. However, a lot of time has to be spent looking for information, gathering it, analyzing it, and so on. And you're most probably going to come across MANY errors. 

Which is why Beeye, a smart planning tool was created to help managers optimise their day-to-day. Implementing a project management software will help you:

  1. Plan your projects and assign resources based on their availability to avoid bottlenecks
  2. Easily identify delivery issues for a project
  3. Collaborate in real-time on centralised data to facilitate the decision-making process
  4. Gain more visibility on the future of your firm and its past by establishing a history of your projects
  5. Track the most critical indicators such as resource utilisation rate, costs & expenses and margins
  6. Guide the firm’s strategy through a business intelligence tool that relies on robust data instead of intuition

Choosing the right software to fit your team's needs, size and budget can be tricky. To help you make the best decision for your business visit the Plann.App by Unito. It's an application that allows you to compare the top work planning apps by feature and price. It also uses 20+ different areas of comparison to help you choose the best tool for your planning needs.