Serving as a project manager is a challenging, yet fulfilling role. Whether you’ve been on the job for years or only recently entered the field, you know there’s always room for improvement. Project management tools can certainly help make the process easier, but you can’t rely solely on them to get the job done.

Each project you work on is a learning experience, so make the most of it. Here’s some project management advice to help you grow.

Five Tips To Refine Your Project Management Skills

Focus on the Details

You probably know by now that rushing into a project rarely ends well. Covering the bases before you get started is essential because you need everyone to be on the same page. Meet with all stakeholders to gauge their expectations, identify the project scope and create a game plan that identifies the roles of every team member, overall project goals and success measures.

Take the Lead

Being the project manager means you’re in charge, so act like it. Coach your team to victory by making sure everyone is getting along, putting out fires, and providing encouragement. Meet with the team frequently for status updates and communicate key happenings to stakeholders. Don’t hesitate to roll your sleeves up and help anywhere you’re needed. If you’re a team player, others will follow suit.

Assess Each Project Phase

Projects have four key phases — initiation, planning, execution and closure — so use these as checkpoints. Before wrapping up each phase, perform quality control on all deliverables, examine any issues the team had to overcome and map your progress with the project timeline. This will help ensure the final product adheres to quality standards, make sure you’re on track to meet specified deadlines and provide valuable lessons that can be helpful in the next phase.

Understand the Importance of Communication

There’s no ‘I’ in a project team. The lines of communication need to be open at all times, and it’s your job to make sure this happens. At the beginning of the project, create a communication plan to share with all team members and stakeholders. No matter how busy you get, stick to the plan — i.e., if you said you would provide weekly status updates, do so consistently — to keep everyone on the same page.

Evaluate Lessons Learned

No matter how great a success or how giant a failure, every project offers ample learning opportunities. At the end of each project, take time to regroup and assess your wins and losses. This will help you refine your strategy for next time, allowing you to both capitalize on your successes and avoid making the same mistakes twice.

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