Large, complex projects are twice as likely to be delivered late, go over budget, and have missing critical features. You can use the best project management tools on the market and still fall behind.
Avoid a dismal fate for your next big project with the following project management strategies:
Get your project managers PMP certified
If you’ve hired a skilled project manager without Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, getting him or her certified will take your projects to the next level. The 2015 Pulse of the Profession study from PMI revealed that when more than one-third of project managers are PMP certified, more projects are completed on time, on budget, and meet original goals. That’s important to know considering 74% of projects are late, 59% are over budget, and only 69% meet original goals.
PMP certification requirements aren’t as exclusive as many people believe. According to EdWel.com, attaining certification happens in two steps. The first step is to submit an application to the Project Management Institute (PMI). The application asks for work history details and is manually reviewed to ensure the applicant is qualified. The second step is scheduling the 200-question exam, which is taken online.
It’s not hard to qualify to take the exam. Applicants don’t need a college degree, but if they have a four-year degree they need less real-world experience leading and directing projects. For example, those with a four-year degree only need to have completed 4,500 hours leading and directing projects. Applicants with a high school diploma or an associate’s degree need to have completed 7,500 hours leading and directing projects.
Once your project managers are certified, they’ll have an arsenal of knowledge and skills to keep your teams on track.
Continually develop your team members
Your team members don’t need to get high-level certifications, but don’t forget about them. Continually developing team members will strengthen their skills and increase their value to the team.
Your project managers and department heads are likely too busy to develop each individual. Create a development program for your team members. For example, dedicate Thursday afternoon to development courses or programs. Host live trainings in a conference room as a group, or buy programs team members can listen to online individually.
Remember to carve out dedicated time during work hours; don’t make anyone pursue training on their own time.
Focus on communication training
Communication isn’t dumping a bunch of words on someone and expecting them to understand. Unfortunately, that’s the model of communication most of us have been taught.
Communication is more than words. It’s a combination of listening, body language, and choosing words that are most effective. It’s a dance back and forth between people that eventually arrives in a place of mutual understanding. When it’s for a business project, that understanding turns into solutions and ideas. If you want your team to find solutions, they need to be great communicators.
Communication is directly tied to performance, as MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory discovered. According to Harvard Business Review, MIT’s team identified the “elusive group dynamics” that characterize high-performing teams and claim the characteristics can be strengthened in existing teams.
While documenting the behavior of teams that click, they observed a certain “buzz” among team members while communicating. They couldn’t hear what was being said. It was the manner of communicating that stood out. For example, they noticed:
- Team members speak and listen in equal measure, not talking over anyone or droning on
- Team members make eye contact with each other and express energetic gestures
- Team members connect with each other, not just their team leader
- Team members explore outside of the team and bring useful information back
The study concluded that effective communication is the most important predictor of success. Surprisingly, many companies don’t focus on communication. Perhaps if they knew how important communication is, they would.
Now that you know, you have a strong reason to bring communication training to your team.
Hire organized and detail-oriented team leaders
Your marketing team leader is only there to keep the team on task, hire someone who has the skills to manage multiple facets of a project. Don’t hire an expert marketer unless they also possess the skills to run a team. You can teach anyone marketing basics, but you don’t have time to teach an expert marketer how to manage a team.
Strong project management allows you to take bigger risks
If you want big rewards, you have to take big risks. Take on complex projects with confidence by arming your leaders with strong project management skills.