How to Improve Your Project in 9 Easy Steps!

I am pretty new to the idea of project management. Having just been hired at a firm that has a designated project manager, I am learning a lot about how necessary I find them to complete a relatively large project. I found an article with helpful steps from PM Times for Project Managers and it was called, 9 Easy Ways to Improve Your Project.

Here were the 9 steps:

  1. Engage your team on a day-to-day basis – Ask for status updates as check-ins.
  2. Get in touch with the project client at least 3-4 times a week – Especially if something is going wrong, client’s appreciate the constant communication.
  3. Revising project financials on a weekly basis – Consistently check in on your budget to avoid bigger problems.
  4. Communicate meeting agendas to participants in advance – This is helpful for members to know what is expected of them for the next meeting so they can come prepared.
  5. Do not cancel your meetings – This shows that the meetings aren’t well organized.
  6. Stop being reasonable with team members – Don’t be let it slide when people don’t meet their deadlines.
  7. Change the attitude from ‘starting’ to ‘do it right away’ – Take a look at your time management, and see where you could cut out personal things that are done at work.
  8. Conduct lessons learned session during the middle of the project – Reflect on what you have learned throughout the project.
  9. Ask your CEO to attend the next meeting with the project customer – This shows that the project is important and respected.

I agree with all these points that were made. I greatly appreciate when my project manager checks in with how my particular task is doing for the project. It shows me that he cares, and helps the team to reflect on whether the task at hand is realistically going to get done at the expected deadline. As a client on our current project, I would be upset if we weren’t being contacted consistently by the software company we were using. Especially at the beginning days of our project, it’s confusing and we definitely need reassurance.

Agendas are key for team members to see, it helps me know what’s coming up and what we are working on. I also appreciate the closing out emails so that we know what was discussed and moving forward what we have to work on before our next meeting. Canceling meetings too frequently can be a problem. I have seen this happen and the meetings themselves become less respected and people show up less often. The CEO being involved is important too, the head of HR at our department is involved in our projects and shows us that they are important to the group/company as a whole so that way we are all dedicated in getting it completed well.

I haven’t had a particular time in my office where someone hasn’t turned in an assignment on time and they have been reprimanded… does anybody have a story like that to share? Where a team member in an office hasn’t hit the deadlines?

5 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Project in 9 Easy Steps!

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights! I recently had a project in which step #2 was not adhered to. Although we held weekly meetings with the customer, not all relevant stakeholders would attend. The ramifications of a critical action that required this person’s attention was not clearly defined via email and the issue was not resolved until very late in the project (and after escalation to upper management on both sides).

    Regarding your question about team members’ missing deadlines, my answer is unfortunately “yes”. This is a huge challenge especially working in virtual/international teams. My typical approach to delayed action items is to contact the person directly (outside of weekly meetings) and try to: 1) understand why the work is late, 2) define a reasonable timeline to complete the task, and 3) revise the action plan to suit the new situation if needed.

    However, in some cases, the work continues to be late, resulting in program delays and customer dissatisfaction. In these cases, what choice do you have but to escalate to the person’s manager? This should be a last resort as I know how I feel when someone escalates an issue to my management. Any thoughts?

  2. Thank you for posing the question about teammates missing deadlines, as it brings up a prior role when I was in as a recruiter. When I was a staffing manager for an accounting placement firm, our group worked on a variety of positions that serviced projects for our clients. While our group was successful in placing professionals for our clients, there were times we missed deadlines for our clients. When these situations occurred, we made sure we communicated why we missed the deadline, and offered alternative solutions. This goes back to the 9 steps to manage a project.

    When reviewing the 9 steps, I especially agree with 2 & 9. Check in’s with a customer is crucial when working on a project because it allows the client to know where you are with the deliverables. If the deadline is in jeopardy, then having the constant communication will not shock the client. Lastly, having a senior leader be a part of the project is important, especially the CEO because it brings a heighten sense of importance to the stakeholders.

    Thank you for a great post, and allowing me to talk about my previous experience.

  3. Nice post, Jen. I worked in a biotechnology firm at my previous firm, and many people have missed their deadlines. It wasn’t necessarily the culture but I think the lack of resources. People had so many tasks on their plates that they were stretched really thin. In turn, their project tasks were usually late. Often, they do not get reprimanded and that’s because the managers understand how busy they are. The gap lies in the managers attending the project management meetings. They agree to the deadlines and then they push the work onto their reports. They didn’t take into consideration their workload. The learning lesson would be involved those that are actually doing the task in the meetings.

  4. Very interesting article! I think you nailed it with some of the points listed. I cannot agree more with the importance of communication and how vital it is to not only communicate with your team, but also providing updates to your clients. A pet peeve of mine is going into a meeting without direction. Providing an agenda prior to the meeting is the best method of utilizing all the time effectively and creating some form of structure so that the meeting does not go off tangent. It’s frustrating to walk into a meeting not knowing what we’re discussing and how long it will take…but that’s also because I need organization in my life!

  5. I love how communication is the main theme in all of these steps. I think it is very important to review and re-review the scope, goals, and milestones of the project on a continual basis. This allows team members to stay focused and gives them opportunities as the project progresses to make critical changes as needed. Sometimes your original project goals might end up changing as business and user needs are identified and modified along the way. Poor communication within the project can result in a loss of focus and scope creep.

    Deadlines can be tricky. We are often overworked and priorities change on a continual basis. Unless team members are dedicated to the project, it is understandable that this will happen. I feel as if sometime pointing out the dependencies others have on the late person and how their lateness is affecting others might be a good way to go. Sometimes its the public shaming which can prevent others from going down that route. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to be firm to get the job done.

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