Project Management Tips & Tools
Quick Summary As a Project Manager, your job is to get things done. However, it’s impossible to do this on your own, and it can only happen through collaboration.
When you work in a service industry, there are always two parts: your company and the client.
Although they’re separate, it’s important that the two teams work together in collaboration to get the work done. We’re no strangers to this, as we work with multiple clients every day. However, when you have a large number of clients, you need to make sure projects stay on track and ensure that everything is documented in an easy way. So, as the resident Project Manager at Avex, I’m here to tell you the tips and tools you need as a Project Manager.
Build Your Toolbox
Before you get going on a large scale project, remember this: there’s an app for everything. I discovered this the hard way after I had spent hours inputing product information into a spreadsheet, only to find out that all I had to do was download a handy-dandy app. Sometimes doing things manually yields better results, but in the case of project management, there are a few essentials that you need to help automate your workflow:
Don’t you hate when your inbox gets flooded with emails, with files spread out everywhere and missed messages in an endless thread? You can forget all about that once you switch to Basecamp. On Basecamp, you can add discussions and to-dos, upload files, create documents, and schedule events. It sends you friendly reminders via email in case you missed anything, and you’ll be able to communicate with your client in a seamless manner. You can start a discussion or “thread” for any topic to give a project update.
Here’s a tip: try to keep each discussion specific. This allows you to find information easily by looking back, and also avoids the 100-message thread that made you ditch traditional email in the first place.
Basecamp is great when you have multiple clients, since each one has it’s own Basecamp, so there’s no confusion over who you’re talking to.
List makers, this one’s for you. If there’s any app that will help you #getshitdone, it’s this one. Essentially, you can create columns and set up cards that can hold files, host threads, and can be assigned to specific team members, with specific due dates.
Only tip for this one: if you need someone to see a message in a specific card, don’t forget to tag them!
The number of people who still use Microsoft Suite over Google Suite is surprising. The fact of the matter is, Google saves everything, so you’ll never lose files again. But, since most of you already know this, I’m gonna give you some advice on the things you don’t know.
Be professional and create a template
If you’re running a business, it’s important to make sure all your files and assets are branded so your client knows exactly who they’re working with. Using your logo, type, and brand colors will help make your documents professional and memorable.
Ditch the sticky notes
One of the most critical parts of being a project manager is keeping track of your to-dos. Of course, you could keep sticky notes on your desktop, but when you’re on-the-go and need to address critical client needs, it helps to have them handy in your Google account. Google Keep does exactly this, allowing you to write notes and to-dos, and giving you the ability to checkmark tasks that have been completed. For instance, I have a separate note for each one of my clients, so I can clearly see what needs to be done for each one. You can assign due dates and even tag team members for peak organization.
Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Emails Organized
We’re all used to receiving a lot of emails and, most of the time, cold emails are useless to us. However, one day you might need that copywriter or videographer. The quick and easy thing to do is to create folders in your inbox with categories relating to these emails. I divide mine by what service they’re offering and if they’re a freelancer or a company. Because of this, I can easily go back and look for someone when I need them. So, cold emailers, it’s not a waste! We’re just not ready.
Don’t Be Afraid to Give a Little Push
As a Project Manager, your job is to get things done. However, it’s impossible to do this on your own, and it can only happen through collaboration. When I first started out, I was afraid to interrupt or ask for things because I didn’t want to be a burden. But, if any member of the project falls behind, whether it’s someone on your team or the client, there will be unwanted delays.
You can’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need.
Set deadlines, check in, and make sure you can be the person that people go to when they’re stuck with something. Give a little push, and be the leader they need you to be.
Always Be 10 Steps Ahead
Now, this is easier said than done. As a Project Manager, you have to see what’s coming before someone else does. Anticipating future problems will help you stop them, and it never hurts to hit deadlines ahead of time. To do this, you must always be aware of what’s going on. Luckily for you, you’re managing most of it, so you probably know more than the rest of your team. Mark down key dates, specific notes from clients and developers, and prepare the next steps to hand over once initial tasks are completed.