The Ultimate Project Manager’s Guide to Success

The Ultimate Project Manager’s Guide to Success

In honor of this year’s International PMO Day — celebrated on May 14 — we wanted to share a comprehensive guide to the skills, strategies, and tools that today’s project managers need for success.

Project management success, of course, can be tough to define in 2024, and it varies for each PM and organization. Success to you might mean hitting your project goals while staying on budget, for instance. It might mean finally convincing higher-ups to ditch outdated Gantt charts and invest in a better PPM. Or you might consider yourself successful if you save your job from the big, not-so-bad AI (or learn to make AI your copilot).

Whatever your PM North Star might be, there are a range of foundational tactics and resources you can use to thrive in this changing field. Because if one thing is certain, it’s that project management will continue to evolve, new technologies will transform the way we work, and PMs will be challenged to adapt on the fly.

That’s where this guide can help.

Whether you’re just getting started in your role or looking to take your career to the next level, you can use these skills, strategies, and tools to meet your own milestones and achieve success in project management.

6 project management skills to drive productivity

It’s easy to get preoccupied with hard skills or technical skills in project management. After all, it’s important to know how to map project timelines, create project reports, and coordinate tasks across teams. However, it’s the soft skills that really separate the great project managers from the ones simply checking off to-do lists.

It’s also the soft skills that separate the human project managers from the AI platforms. Think about it. Advanced PPMs can pretty much automate the processes we just listed above — saving you a lot of time and energy. But it still takes human intuition and experience to lead teams, negotiate with stakeholders, and ideate creative solutions to unexpected problems.

That’s why soft skills — or, as the Project Management Institute (PMI) calls them, “power skills” — are so important. According to the PMI, organizations that prioritize these skills experience less scope creep and are better at meeting their project goals:

  • Communication. Be able to clearly communicate project goals, status updates, and task assignments in written, verbal, and visual formats. Having clear and transparent communication processes in place can help PMs more effectively delegate tasks, gather feedback from team members, and guide collaborators through sudden changes in their project timelines. According to a report from PMI and KPMG, project managers say communication is one of the top skills to develop within the next five years.
  • Problem-solving. Challenges and obstacles arise all the time in project lifecycles. It’s important for PMs to be able to think on their feet and make data-informed decisions so they can pivot their strategies as needed. 
  • Adaptability. The one constant in project management is change. Project managers must have the ability to adjust to last-minute and unexpected shifts in their timelines and resources. Whether they’re tasked with replacing a team member, meeting a new deadline, or adapting to a tightened budget, project managers should stay cool-headed under pressure and be able to navigate their teams through these changes.

Don’t worry. We’ll give hard skills a shoutout, too. Project managers can work on developing these competencies to help drive productivity and success:

  • Conflict resolution. Projects might involve a range of collaborators, task owners, and managers, and stakeholders — each with their goals and responsibilities. If conflicts arise, project managers must be able to help all participants reach a fair and productive resolution while staying on track to meet their milestones. According to PMI and KPMG, project managers say this is the most-lacking skill among PM professionals today. Meaning, those entering or growing in the field have an opportunity to advance their careers by developing competencies for conflict management.
  • Budgeting. To prevent scope creep, project managers have to be adept at not just setting but also maintaining a realistic and manageable budget throughout the lifecycle of each project. That means they have to anticipate and respond to all the ways in which their costs and resource needs might shift over time. 
  • Change management. PMI found that roughly half of project managers incorporate formal change management processes into their project workflows. That means another half are left without the skills and tools they need to rework their strategies to accommodate new technologies, market research, and stakeholder input. It’s no surprise, then, that this is also one of the top skills for project managers to develop over the next five years.

5 project management strategies for maximum efficiency

Once you’ve cultivated the skills you need to boost your project management performance, you can use them to execute the following strategies for optimized results:

  • Prioritize the project intake process. You can save yourself and your team a lot of time and headache by nailing down the details of your project before it even begins. That is, set up a standard but customizable intake process during which you can create a detailed brief, share relevant documentation, assign tasks or project owners, and set your goals. This will help everyone involved understand their expectations and eliminate any confusion from the outset.
  • Identify risks before they impact your timeline. Before — or even while — you work on your project, you can also use risk management tools to identify potential speed bumps and obstacles in your project timeline, and develop the solutions to address them. Despite the importance of this process, less than half of project management professionals say they have excellent risk management strategies in place, according to PMI and KPMG. 
  • Use resource management solutions. Money isn’t the only resource project managers have to carefully allocate across their portfolios. You also have to be sure you’re utilizing talent most efficiently based on their skillsets, expertise, and availability. That’s why it’s important to use resource management tools to figure out how to spread your project workload across teams.
  • Leverage “plan vs. actual” tools along the way. Remember that adaptability skill we said was so crucial? That’s where plan vs. actual tools can help. As changes occur along your project timeline, use these resources to compare your current project status to your baseline so you can make adjustments and stay on track towards your goals.
  • Make data-backed decisions. Use a visual project map and customizable dashboard to gather real-time data about each project. Also, be sure you have the tools to share this real-data with stakeholders, so everyone can easily gauge your project status and make data-backed decisions about how to best move forward.
  • Don’t hesitate to automate — and use AI. Make more time for strategizing and innovative ideation by automating manual tasks like report generation, scenario planning, and risk analysis.

Fuel your project management success with Proggio

You have the playbook to drive success in project management. Now you just need the tools to execute your plays and start seeing results.

That’s where Proggio can help. Proggio is the project portfolio management solution that adapts to your needs and helps you seamlessly navigate changes in your workflow. Use our patented ProjectMap™ to view and manage your entire portfolio, or zoom in to make adjustments at the task level. Automatically prioritize projects based on business goals and identify risks before they impact your deliverables. Also, share real-time, customized reports with stakeholders, so they stay informed every step of the way.

As your industry continues to evolve, we provide the tools you need to evolve with it — and propel your organization into the future of project management.

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