Key Skills of a Project Manager
June 24, 2021

Have your project planned? Here’s 11 steps to help you manage it like a pro

By Niall Lenihan

Whether you’re embarking on your very first management gig or just brushing up on some tips, we’ve got tons of advice to help you shine in your managerial role.

You don’t have to be a full-time project manager to make of these resources.

All of these tips are applicable to any project – big or small.

In Project Central, we operate our projects under three key phases:

1. Plan a project

2. Manage a project

3. Manage across multiple projects.


If you’re here, you’ve probably already visited our ‘Plan a Project‘ article. If not, we recommended checking it out here before moving on.

Today we’re talking about phase number two – managing a project. We’re going to show you how even the most complex projects can follow our go-to project management process.

Easily manage projects with Project Central

Project Central helps teams to plan, manage, and collaborate on any project with Microsoft 365.

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11 steps to help you manage projects like a pro.

Stage 1: Collaborate as a project team

Steps 1-4 are all about collaboration. Team collaboration is the lifeblood of any project. So, you’ll want to cultivate a strong and communicative team dynamic as son as possible. That means effective idea sharing, decision making, and efficient team management.

Remember, your project team is probably going to include people with different topics of expertise.

Your team members may not even have met each other before – especially if they have been brought in from different departments.

In order to encourage effective collaboration, you’ll want to focus on transparency, engagement, team morale and motivation.

And to do this, a project collaboration and management tool is going to help you out a ton.

If you’re hoping to manage a multifaceted project using Excel, then you might want to think again. Spreadsheets are great for simple, or individual, tasks, but if you want to manage a team successfully, you’ll be much better served with a designated management tool.

Project Central is a simple project tracking tool that can help you plan and structure your projects in the way that’s best for you.

You’ll be able to assign tasks to your teammates, organize due dates, keep track of deadlines, set team priorities, and much more. With all of your project management and collaboration needs under one roof, you’ll be well on your way to hitting those project goals.

So, we know that effective collaboration is essential for successful project management, but what can you actually do as a project manager to ensure healthy collaboration practices in your teams?
Here are some ideas to get you started!


Step 1: set up task notifications

First thing’s first, ensure that your team members are notified when they are assigned new tasks or have tasks due soon.

This is a great way to keep your project rolling and motivate team members.

With Project Central you can manage all of your tasks simply and easily in your My Tasks tab.

My Tasks is a simple and visual dashboard displaying all tasks assigned to you across all of your projects. It’s super easy for your team members to access. Each team member will be able to assess their individual tasks and see what needs to get done and when. And that benefits everyone. When individual tasks stay on track, projects stay on track.


Step 2: Update tasks

Update each task with all the relevant details pertaining to it. For example, you could attach all relevant documents needed for the task ahead of time.

Other important details to add, include task instructions (how it needs to be done) and task deliverables (what is expected upon completion).

Next, you’ll want to allocate each task to a team member. In order to do this effectively you should first define everyone’s role.

Once you’ve done this you can try to assign each task to employees based on their respective roles and individual skill sets.

Finally, try to keep workloads realistic. Setting too many tasks in too short a period of time is going to be counterproductive to end results (not to mention team morale).

Setting realistic time frames and project milestones is a super important part of being a project manager. It’s important to keep things moving but always achievable.


Step 3: Monitor project activity

Step three is to keep tabs on your project activity. Project management isn’t a ‘launch and be done with it’ kind of role.

The most successful project managers will regularly monitor and assess how their project is going. Are you meeting your goals? Are you managing to maintain the schedule?

Are there any adjustments needed? Monitoring your project activity isn’t just about bathing in the glory of your success.

Sometimes initial timescales and ideas don’t go to plan. And that’s fine. The important thing is that you’re keeping tabs on day-to-day progress so that you can make those necessary adjustments in a timely manner – before any more serious damage is done.


Step 4: Work in tasks on other projects

Just because you’ve taken on the role of project manager, doesn’t mean all of your other responsibilities go out of the window.

And the same goes for your team members.

When you find yourself with multiple projects on-the-go, in tandem, organization is even more important than ever.

Make sure to consider all project responsibilities when drawing up your project management plan.

When setting goals and timings, remember to factor in any deadlines or important tasks required for your adjacent projects.

A great way to do this is to unify all of your projects under one project management environment. That way you’ll have seamless visibility across all of your projects.

Easily manage projects with Project Central

Project Central helps teams to plan, manage, and collaborate on any project with Microsoft 365.

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Stage 2: Track and adjust the project

Stage one is complete. You’ve set yourself up for a project based on amazing team collaboration.

Now it’s time to track and adjust your project after lift-off. As we already touched on, tracking your progress is key to maintain a manageable workload and successful outcome in managing your project.

So, without further ado, Steps 5 – 9 are all about tracking!

Here are our Project Central top-tips for tracking and adjusting projects as you go!


Step 5: resolve flagged tasks

At the beginning of your project, it’s a good idea to ask your team members to flag any tasks that require extra attention along the way.

This is inevitable. Not every task is going to go to plan first time around.

The important thing is being able to locate and troubleshoot the issue early on. As you conduct your reviews, ensure that you take note of a flagged tasks and rectify any issues.


Step 6: Review project structure and tasks

Even the seemingly most perfect plans can go askew.

When your plan starts to be delivered in reality, its inevitable that some timings are going to need adjustment.

Every so often it’s a good idea to review the project structure (phases, tasks, project sections) to ensure that it’s still fit for purpose.

For example, imagine you’re managing a marketing project. According to your initial plan, your team was supposed to deliver a marketing video by day 15 of the project. However, due to a delay caused by a third-party error, your team was set back. What should you do?

In a case like this, visit your project planning tool and shift around your project tasks to ensure a new, more manageable, timeline without sacrificing on your completion date.

If you planned your project timeline using a Gantt chart, this will be super easy.

Simply drag-and-drop you projects to adjust as needed and view your entire project timeframe at a glance.


Step 7: Update task status

Here’s a quick reminder. Whatever management tool you’re using make sure to keep it updated.

More complex projects with a lot of tasks can become confusing if the status of individual tasks is unclear. It could result in missed (or duplicated) tasks as a result of mismanagement and miscommunication.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, make sure all tasks are marketed as in-progress or complete as necessary.


Step 8: Update project schedule

As we’ve already alluded to, sometimes timelines don’t go 100% according to plan.

In most cases, you’ll be able to reassign and reshuffle tasks to accommodate the necessary changes and keep your project on track.

But sometimes you’ll need to adjust your completion date.


Step 9: Update project dashboard

Whatever happens during your project, whether it’s going ahead of schedule, falling behind, or in need of major intervention, it’s important to keep your team members and stakeholders in-the-know.

It’s good practice to regularly update your management dashboard with progress updates.

This should outline the current status of the project and give an overall project health indicator.


Stage 3: Close out the project

You’ve almost made it to project completion. It’s time to close out your project.

This is the time when you’ll be making those final updates and rounding off all those edges. Don’t treat your project like a hit and run. It’s really important that you close-out your projects appropriately.

You need to finalize all activities, transfer all completed or cancelled project information to the relevant parties, and remove access to the project.

This is also a time to sit down with your team and reflect. Talk about what went well and what could be done better next time.

Steps 10 and 11 are all about closing out gracefully.


Step 10: Close your project

It’s time to close your project for good. Make any final updates to the project dashboard and update your project status to complete. Once you’ve done this you can officially close-out the project.


Step 11: Save your project as a template

Your project is over, but it’s important to keep a record of it for future reference. Successfully projects can be kept as a reference for future project management assignments. If a project plan has worked well, hold onto it. Save the project as a template for you and your team. This will become a valuable resource that you can refer to for proven project management best practices.

Manage in style

You’re ready to go!

It’s time to manage your projects in style.

You’ve planned you project and now you’re ready to manage it like a pro.

Follow these 11 steps and you’ll be the occasional project manager of the year in no time.

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out our free downloadable template to get you off on the right foot.

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