While project management methodologies and programs can be complex and elaborate, project management itself doesn’t need to be.
Project management workflow can be surprisingly simple if you know the right steps to take. It won’t be easy – not by any stretch of the imagination – but it will give you a simple process to help improve your workflow.
Develop a Good Plan
Every project begins with a plan, whether you’re using Scrum, Waterfall, or PRiSM. The key to making it a good project plan is to make sure you have all your ducks accounted for and lined up in a row. Equipment. Manpower. Schedule. Budget.
Develop a plan of action in broad strokes, then break it down into smaller ones that individual team members can easily digest and handle. Be thorough, but remember that the plan might have to change midway through the project.
Get Everyone Involved
While you don’t have to get input from everyone, you do have to make sure that everyone knows what is going on. The benefits are undeniable: better team communication, flexible resources, and more brain power to solve problems.
“Involved” also means that a team member is more than just a code monkey. People work better when they feel that their role is valued – that they have a stake in the project. This is especially true for clients, who tend to get nervous when they are left in the dark.
No plan is perfect. Things will go wrong during the project, causing it to fall behind schedule and go over budget. But an effective project manager will have planned for the more common/likely scenarios and prepared contingencies. This could be anything from padding the timeline to having a list of emergency contractors that can take up the slack.
This step is more than just writing something down. Every significant event, conversation, or milestone has to be logged, time-stamped and recorded for posterity.
This step is important for your project management workflow because it serves three purposes. First, it provides the client an accurate timeline of events, which they can review when the next billing period comes around. Second, it acts as protection for your team in the case of a contract dispute between you and the client. This is handy for when the client requests work outside the original project scope. Third, your team can review this information during a project post-mortem, and see how they can improve the next time round.