22 Project Management Best Practices (From Industry Experts)
Many projects fail because of unclear goals and objectives, poor resource planning, unclear project accountability, unrealistic expectations, and low team motivation.
As a project manager, you can prevent these project management challenges. Simply follow the most effective project management best practices to prevent project delays and failures and produce the expected results and deliverables.
22 of the Best Project Management Best Practices
Let's check out the essential project management best practices that help to give you the desired results during project execution.
1. Constantly Engage with Project Stakeholders
Bear in mind that you are not the only player involved in the project. To ensure project success, you must identify and manage project stakeholders. Ensure you constantly communicate with them.
You cannot run your operations successfully without project stakeholders. Carefully communicate the project goals and objectives to your key stakeholders.
Every project manager needs input from project team members, project sponsors, and valued users. Organize constant meetings with your stakeholders to share your vision and enthusiasm for the project's success. Pay close attention to their opinions and suggestions.
There is no effective project management without constant communication between the project manager and the team. A key responsibility and role of a project manager are to actively communicate with key project stakeholders and update them using a progress report at intervals.
2. Clarify the Project Purpose
Your motives and purpose while managing projects determine your degree of success. Your purpose is a propelling force that helps to get the job done and remain relevant in the competitive market.
The project's purpose is not for you alone. Communicate it passionately to your agile teams, stakeholders, and everyone that has the potential to accomplish it.
Within the project purpose, you get clear insights into factors like the project's existence, vital problems that require solutions, and the reasons to assist every end user.
In-depth knowledge of the project's purpose will influence team performance positively. When every team member is on the same page about the purpose, it becomes achievable.
Purpose-driven companies have the potential to do better than those that don't pay attention to their project purpose.
3. Create a Risk Response Team
You will naturally experience various risks all through the project life cycle. The risks you face are never the problem, but what matters is your response.
Some risks may gravely affect your project performance and result in project failure. But you can always make the right decisions with a risk response team ready to swing into action.
You can have the entire project on track irrespective of the risks if your response team is well-trained to handle such situations.
Creating a response team would take considerable effort and investment, but the gains outweigh the cost. Your risk response team is your last defense against project risks.
4. Formalize Project Roles
The project manager is not the only one burdened with project management functions. Some team members can successfully manage vital sections of the project.
There are many essential roles in successful project management.
- The project manager.
- The project team member.
- The project sponsor.
- The executive sponsor.
- The business analyst.
- The client or customer.
- The steering committee.
- The delivery manager.
- The Project Management Office (PMO).
A vital part of project management practices involves identifying, defining, and formalizing these vital roles to avoid conflicts and promote quick project execution. Organize specialized training for individual roles for better results.
5. Hold Project Kick-Off Meetings
Before you begin any project work, you need to have a kick-off meeting. In this meeting, you need every relevant stakeholder and team member present. The goal of this meeting is to get everyone pumped about the project and ready to get to work.
During the meeting, establish an open line of communication where everyone who has a stake understands the purpose and goal of the project. Once you make sure everyone has a full grasp of their role in the project, you can guarantee a healthy project lifecycle.
Here are some vital touchpoints for your kick-off meeting.
- Select the appropriate project management methodologies and relevant tools.
- Clarify and assign roles and responsibilities.
- Establish common goals and responsibilities.
- Clearly define the parameters and criteria to measure success.
- Select the best mode of communication for the project.
- Forecast potential risks and ways to manage them.
If you pay attention to these factors, you will have a smooth ride throughout the project.
6. Outline Quality Standards Across the Project Life Cycle
Without proper quality control, you cannot execute a project successfully. Project quality includes factors such as functionality, project performance, reliability, and consistency of project deliverables.
If you joke with your quality benchmarks, your result will be a poor-quality project. Ensure your standards and structures are achievable to avoid overworking your team members. Set the work standard at the project initiation phase and follow it through the project lifecycle.
Don't forget to clearly define your quality criteria according to the project at hand to the relevant stakeholders. If every stakeholder has the same orientation regarding quality control, you can run the project smoothly.
Here are some tips for defining your project quality standards.
- Use project deliverables for proper structuring into various stages.
- Find out what your competitors are doing, analyze your past projects, and use them as a guide.
- Authenticate and validate the quality benchmarks and processes by writing.
- Complete the project quality documentation with associated data and supporting information.
Every project has different phases with unique quality standards. Pay attention to these phases to ensure that the lack of quality at one phase will not affect the others.
7. Prioritize Documentation
As a good project manager, you must maintain a detailed project log. This log contains every project-related decision you made and will make at different stages of the project lifecycle.
Project documentation helps inform existing and new team members about the project’s work plan and progress. Some popular project documents include project proposals, project charters, team charters, project plans, and project status reports.
A project status report is a document that tracks the progress of the project within a set period. Project managers use it to fill in stakeholders on the project’s progress.
Additionally, you can fall back to your log to identify the solutions you used to solve similar problems. Similarly, other project managers can gain from the wealth of information in your project log if they experience similar problems.
Pro Tip: Don't lose sight of the project plan while documenting every detail of the project life cycle. Many project managers make this mistake while focusing on documentation.
8. Start with a Detailed Work Definition and Scope of Work Document
When managing projects, you will experience issues that require simple and sometimes complex solutions. A simple solution to some of these issues includes identifying roles and clarifying who is responsible for their execution.
A detailed work definition document is crucial for such situations. This document can clarify uncertainty and confusion regarding your project management plan and relevant activities.
You get a well-crafted document highlighting vital activities and work to get done by teams and their members to ensure everyone is clear on the effort, time, and resources required. After crafting the document, ensure all your project stakeholders sign it.
On the other hand, a detailed scope of work document is the working agreement between all parties involved in a project. This document ensures that every project stakeholder agrees on the project tasks, objectives, deliverables, and expectations.
The work definition and scope of work documents are among the project management essentials every serious project manager must have.
9. Have a Detailed Work Plan
What’s your plan for tracking the progress, changes, and growth of the project? Without a detailed work plan, you will struggle to meet deadlines and hit project milestones.
A detailed work plan is the lifeblood of every successful project. While crafting your work plan, you must consider factors like your goals, objectives, risk management plan, identified problems, and possible solutions.
Taking your work plan seriously prevents issues such as scope creep and helps you to focus on the important aspect of the project.
Creating a weekly work plan helps you prioritize project goals, identify deliverables, and estimate task duration.
10. Engage Project Sponsors
You cannot execute a project successfully without sponsors. You must actively engage them.
A project sponsor is a middleman between the project manager and the business executives. The role of this individual goes beyond making project resources available.
This individual helps to resolve issues, champion the project to other executives, connect the project to the overall business goal, and monitor progress.
You need to constantly communicate with your sponsors. Ensure they have clear insight into the project goals, objectives, and the required resources to make the project a success.
11. Request for Feedback
If you are sincerely concerned about your project's success, you will prioritize feedback. Feedback helps track progress and determine if you need to implement your contingencies or continue with the plan in motion.
You must constantly ask for feedback from your team members throughout the project process. Without feedback, you will be in the dark about what is happening and causing the project to fail.
Smart project managers create a structure to encourage team members to drop feedback. Apart from the insight you get into the project's progress, feedback helps to mirror your project management efforts and show how you can make adjustments.
Asking for feedback helps to improve your management skills and prepares you for possible issues in your next project.
12. Sign New Agreement Documents When Necessary
Projects don't always go in a straight line. There may be unprecedented changes that require adjustment and new requests. When there are new requirements, the result is a significant change in the original project scope.
This new agreement document helps to inform relevant stakeholders about the project scope and its result on the entire project.
Having a documented agreement when you make changes will help to reduce confusion and issues when there is a need to move deadlines and make other relevant adjustments.
13. Avoid Adding Unrealistic Milestones
Great project managers know their limits and how to achieve results without stretching resources and team members. It is a waste to set unrealistic goals and project milestones for your internal team. The results will be a delay in the project’s complexion, gold plating, or a total failure.
Additionally, agreeing to deadlines or features that are not achievable can prevent your project plans from coming to fruition. Apart from a manager’s ambition to outdo other competitors, inpatient clients could want projects delivered quicker than the time required.
It's unwise to put your team members under undue pressure. Such pressure can affect morale and how they get the work done.
Pro Tip: Stand up to clients who want you to reach the moon for them. Let them know where you stand and what is achievable within specific times.
14. Manage Risk and Opportunity
Your ability to manage risks and opportunities effectively determines project success or failure. Use your mind to picture different worst-case scenarios. Imagine how things can go wrong at different stages of the project.
Meet with your stakeholders and team members to discuss these issues and their possible solutions. You can combine your solutions with the suggestions of stakeholders and team members to create a well-structured contingency plan.
During these meetings, you can gain more insight into other problems affecting the project, which you did not know of, and look out for solutions. However, If you focus only on the worst-case scenarios, you will not see the available opportunities.
Take risk assessment seriously and create a workable risk management response plan at every project phase. You can pick ideas to help identify risks and opportunities from your past projects.
15. Communicate Effectively
Proper communication within the project team is essential for the successful achievement of goals and objectives.
As a project manager, ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the project's progress. Pass regular updates to those working under you and those you report to.
It's advisable to discuss extensively with the stakeholders during the project planning phase the importance of the project and what it entails. During these discussions, you acquire insights into their thinking, understanding, and expectations of the project.
This insight can serve as a guide while crafting the project plan and other relevant documents necessary for the project's progress.
Pro Tip: Create a workable communication plan to aid the process and ensure you stick to it for smooth project execution.
16. Manage Scope Creep
As the project progresses, new requirements may come up. Ensure you communicate the impact of these new requirements on the planned schedule and project budget.
Accepting new requests or tasks while working on one may lead to project overload. If you encounter new overwhelming requests, you can assess how they influence your timeline or budget and the initial project requests.
An effective way to manage scope creep is to ensure all the stakeholders and team members are on the same page regarding incoming requests. If there are conflicts regarding requests, hold a meeting to straighten things up.
Including scope creep in your risk response plan is one way of avoiding issues resulting from project changes. If you manage scope creep effectively, you can avoid its negative impact on the project.
17. Ensure Transparency in the Project
Transparency is one of the secret weapons of agile project teams performing well during the execution phase of the project work. It should be present from the project’s planning process to its complexion.
A transparent planning process gives everyone an insight into the project’s scope and makes task management productive.
With everyone on the same page, your leadership qualities will be effective because you can use them to make major decisions for desired results.
Pro Tip: No project exists without every party involved to make it a reality. Transparency encourages collaboration resulting in the smooth execution of the project.
18. Schedule Regular Check-ins with your Team
Regular check-ins allow you to access your team member’s strengths and weaknesses. This practice gives them a sense of accountability and consciousness of a superior available to help when needed.
Scheduling regular check-ins ensures you get feedback from your team on time and keep them on track to achieve the project’s objectives and goals. During check-ins, ensure you solve problems and issues your team members face.
19. Practice Empathy
Empathy is among the vital best practices you must consider as a project manager. Direct your empathy toward your clients, end-users, and resources.
Practicing empathy gives insight into how your project work affects everyone involved and how you can execute it effectively with fewer problems.
There is no bespoke way to practice empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of those involved and imagine how your actions affect them. Empathy helps you to get a clear picture of what they want and the best way to achieve this desire.
For example, stakeholders may desire to use the project objectives to achieve personal ambitions like a promotion, and clients may want to double their revenue.
Having just a detailed project plan will not give you the desired success rate that you want. Practicing empathy is what you need to achieve the project’s objectives.
20. Conduct Regular Client Status Meetings
Having a perfect score on a project is possible if you get your client involved in the project process. Regular check-ins with your team are a great idea, but they will not offer you all the benefits you need for perfect execution.
Communicating with your clients should be an ongoing process, don’t keep it till the end of the project. If you offer them regular updates regarding the project's progress, they will acquire a sense of belonging and trust.
You can make the process official by scheduling weekly meetings with your clients. Pick the most convenient time for them because they may be busy with other tasks.
Ensure you create a team meeting agenda that covers the topics and activities you plan to cover during the meeting and share it with them.
During the scheduled meetings, discuss the state of the project and what's required to bring it to a state of perfection.
21. Hold Wrap-Up Meetings
After bringing the project to a state of completion, host wrap-up meetings and project post-mortems with all your team members to discuss the project’s journey.
Don't just get excited about finishing the project, but reflect on all your actions and their implications. During these meetings, you get insight into how the concept phase influenced the execution phase and what decisions gave you the best results.
Highlighting the shortcomings and challenges of the project is a vital part of this practice. During this meeting, ensure proper documentation of everything that came up for discussion, like the actual cost of execution against the estimated figures.
Apart from gaining insight into the project process, clarify issues and reassess your team’s performance. Use this opportunity to make necessary corrections and changes for better results.
22. Use a Project Management Software
Smart project managers use the best project management software to make their work easier. Project management software is like cheat codes that help you manage every aspect of your project.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), “If you are not using project management software to assist you with your project work, you are missing out on an exceptional management aid.”
With many project management software available in the market, identifying the best one for your project can be tricky. Luckily, we have reviewed 22 of the best project management software to help you plan, track, and deliver your projects more efficiently.
Best Practices of Project Management FAQs
Best practices in project management ensure your performance as a manager is better, faster, and more efficient when compared to previous results.
Implementing project management best practices in your company can be tasking. You must understand what it is about and encourage your team members to act accordingly. Ensure you are a pacesetter by being the first to implement these practices.
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