If you’re a new project manager and are here for project managements tips for tech leaders, don’t feel uneasy. Project management is not an easy task. Even experienced project leaders find the whole process demanding.
A project in a company or business involves a cut-out unit of work connected to an overall vision or desired outcome. The person overseeing the group in charge of the project is the project manager.
A project manager needs to possess quality experience in the project niche. Specific soft skills, such as leadership and effective communication, are invaluable skills to a project manager.
You will rarely find a project manager position as an available job listing when job hunting because in-house specialists usually occupy those positions.
In our case, the project manager is someone who has vast tech know-how. We’ll call them ‘tech managers.’ Tech managers have diverse roles and responsibilities—they run projects and sometimes partner with other company departments to produce a particular outcome.
A tech manager role can be pretty overwhelming if you are inexperienced. This article reveals ten project management tips for new tech leaders to handle their roles excellently, such as:
1. Understand the basics
As the project manager, you will handle the significant parts of specific projects that arise. Product management experts from Brill Assignment, offering assignment help, state that to create a remarkable project of any kind—professional or personal—you need to understand the basics of the project in question.
You gain insight into what the project entails by asking yourself specific questions such as:
- What is the main reason for running this project?
- How does this project impact the company goals in the long run?
- Would the outcome of this project contribute to the company’s mission?
- How does the project output measure up to the company’s project management roadmap?
- Which category of individuals will this project affect?
- Who are the investors, customers, and major stakeholders?
- What are their requirements for this project?
- What does this particular project success look like to the stakeholders and you?
- Are there specific issues they want us to tackle with this project
- What are the project’s possible outcomes and output level?
- What is your team’s collective definition of “done?”
- Are there milestones this project outcome is meant to achieve?
- What are the project start and end times?
- Does the stakeholder specify a required timeline for the project?
- If there is a deadline, is it a hard one that leaves no room for any delay?
- If there is a delay, what are the consequences, and how do we resolve them?
After pondering these questions, you will further understand how to avoid bottlenecks and run the project efficiently as a project leader. Also, using robust project management tools is an absolute must when managing projects in the IT sector.
2. Become a certified project manager
Besides your role as project manager, hone your skills by pursuing certification. The training is invaluable as it boosts your career appeal. How so? Companies will want to hire you because there aren’t a lot of certified project managers out there. The PMI estimates that there are 16.5 million project managers globally, yet only 1 million are certified.
Nevertheless, a certification is no guarantee. Plus, you will have to consider whether you have the time and resources, along with the financial means, to become certified. Here is an extensive article on how to become a project manager. Consider all the possible options before making your decision.
3. Know your project well
When spearheading a project or handling your stakeholders, consider the following advice:
- Know your stakeholders. You are more likely to reach desired outcomes when you know your stakeholders to understand what they prefer and the best course of action in this respect.
- Be responsible and accountable. As the project leader, you are responsible for any issues or bottlenecks concerned with the project execution. So, lead by example — if you are diligent in handling the project, your team members will follow suit.
- Identify your project phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Tracking, Post Mortem, and Reporting are the five unique stages involved in project execution. Better outcomes are generated if you can identify what each stage requires.
According to PMI Pulse of Profession (2017), a lack of clear goals is the most common factor behind project failure. Organization and awareness of project details are critical for project execution.
As we shared earlier, understanding your stakeholders’ needs helps you organize your team members so that project delivery matches and even exceeds expectations.
The time before the project starts is crucial as it helps you plan the best possible means for project execution.
This tutorial details the process of project management and the phases of project life cycle
4. Motivate your team
As the project manager, you have to create and maintain an environment that makes the project execution achievable. Your team members should be able to perform their specific roles with your help and motivation.
Motivation is critical when running a project. The aim is to make your team excited about the project implementation. If your team members don’t share the enthusiasm, they will view it as another unpleasant task (or even tedious!) in their long task list.
In this case, project leaders must be persuasive and good communicators and be able to connect the given project to the company vision. By showing them how the project is valuable to company goals, their output level will be at its peak.
Next, find ways to tackle its execution. Let your team members handle essential decisions. By involving your team members in every aspect of the project, they gain insight into the roles they play. This way, they become more immersed and accountable, thus increasing their productivity level.
5. Assign the right people
Some project managers mistakenly assign tech experts with the most robust profiles to handle the bulk of the tasks. This method can be pretty effective short-term, but it can backfire in the long run in the sense that it can tire out high-profile engineers.
Instead, take your time to consider all the possible options. Allow newcomers to grow by assigning them “moonshots.”
Know each employee’s strengths and weak points. Only then can you distribute tasks to each engineer or developer with the hope that they can use the project experience to grow.
When you assign roles, pair up experienced engineers with less experienced ones for team balance and the possibility for growth.
6. Measure your Success
As a project manager planning the execution of a project, you need to be aware of your success rate. In other words, you should be able to identify whether the project suits stakeholders’ requests.
If you are not aware of how to determine the level of your success, it is difficult to ascertain whether the project execution is going in the right direction. The OKR methodology is a great business practice you should consider.
Firstly, prioritize your backlog. Backlog prioritization is crucial to determine the proper sequence of iteration and deployment that are on stand-by. Then, the scrum team selects the product backlog items during grooming and sprint planning.
Consistent backlog prioritization boasts many benefits, (1) as it reduces risk probability, (2) it ensures customer satisfaction, (3) it helps the team focus on value-oriented development, and lastly (4) it pinpoints the effective management of dependencies.
Scrum explained step by step
Secondly, break down the project into smaller sub-projects. Do not tackle project execution on a wholescale level. Breaking it into smaller projects makes the execution easier for your team, and it produces ideal outcomes. When measuring your team’s success rates, there are certain factors you need to be aware of:
- Quality. Are you prioritizing quality-oriented outcomes over speed?
- Budget. Are you going over the required budget by adding more people for a speedy outcome?
- Completion rate. Is your project execution rate quick enough to comfortably meet the required deadline?
- Expectation. Are you working towards achieving a required output based on stakeholders’ requests?
- Project outcome. Are you working towards an expected outcome?
Note that outcome is not synonymous with output. The project output results from the project execution, while the project outcome impacts a specific business.
7. Resolve emerging conflicts early
Leaders act as an anchor, ensuring team balance. They are change drivers that bring reforms to the status quo and actual work culture.
Humans are social creatures, and when we work together, there is always the chance of a clash of opinions. For example, when there is a change, resistance is certain. Conflicts in project execution are almost unavoidable. The sooner you accept that fact, the better for you and your team.
Conflict comes in different shapes and sizes. Conflict can be viewed as an inevitable outcome when a vibrant team works together. In a positive sense, it is the result of a diverse culture. When channeled properly, conflicts can give the project outcome a unique outlook.
However, as the project manager, you need to ensure that the conflicts are not personal and do not get out of hand.
Allow every team member to defend their position and voice their opinion. The project leader acts as the mediator, resolving possible antagonism. If your team cannot agree on the better choice, it is your duty as a project manager to choose the better option. If you can’t, call in an expert.
A conflict within a team is nothing to worry about. In fact, you should be more worried when your team members do not clash on specific issues. It could be a sign of disinterest, disengagement, or even a fear-driven culture that leaves no room for opposition.
Companies are meant to have some conflict. In a business setting, people rarely argue just for the sake of it, and it’s usually for the sake of the business. So, take some time to align team priorities and make sure the conflict resolution is a win-win, if possible.
8. Focus on architecture
If you are a project manager in engineering, know your debt level and aim to minimize it. Note that not all technical debt is considered harmful.
However, when you have too much technical debt, it can affect your product. Like financial debt, you may need to pay some form of interest, affecting your finances which causes your business to struggle. So, use every business initiative as an opportunity to improve software health.
In the corporate world, every department has a plan and its own goals. For example, the sales and products group wants to get more customers, improve the product by adding useful features, and get better conversion rates. The business department aims for better revenue acquisition. Lastly, engineers and tech experts want ideal software performance in quality, stability, and maintainability.
If your role as tech manager is to represent the company’s interests, you have to bridge technology and business, ensuring a proper balance between product quality and profitability.
9. Negotiate flexibility
Now, let’s see how you calculate your success. Generally, you subtract expectations from your results like this: result — expectations = success.
To guarantee your project success, you need to actively manage stakeholders’ expectations and be prepared for unforeseeable outcomes. Also, share the possible risks during project execution with your stakeholders.
Also, engage in tasks that are within your team’s capability. Do not run a project that is well above your team’s ability. If you overpromise and engage in tasks your team cannot effectively handle, you run the risk of overstressing your teams.
Sadly, teams overwork nights—and supposedly free weekends—to meet pressing deadlines mainly due to the project manager’s inability to negotiate and manage stakeholders’ expectations well.
If you do not manage expectations properly, your team’s performance during project execution might be affected.
Negotiate expectations with your team members, so they get enough float without stressing over nerve-wracking deadlines.
10. Kicking it off well
Set out all the requirements and discuss them with your team. Successful project execution starts with a well-planned kickoff meeting.
The product manager usually runs the project management meeting. This is the ideal time and place for you and your team members to ask questions and clarify the project requirements:
- Discuss and make sure you are on the same page with your team.
- Ask and work together towards milestones and timelines.
- Critically examine some decisions and challenge costly assumptions.
- Write down the suggestions and goals so that you can reflect on them later.
No project will go according to plan without issues or bottlenecks. It’s impossible. But great project managers are proactive and can mark out potential problems before they surface. If they foresee a challenge, they can propose viable solutions ahead of time.
The duties of a project manager can be overwhelming as they oversee various projects from initiation to completion, all while ensuring proper execution and desired outcomes. If projects are handled efficiently, the tech manager helps the business reduce costs, maximize overall efficiency, and increase revenue. The opposite happens if a project is dealt with poorly.
However, this should not scare you off — it gets easier with practice and experience. So, do not overthink it or crumble under pressure; following the tips we provided should be more than enough to help you get started managing projects successfully.