Manage a successful team project with these 11 simple tips

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Supervising a project can be an overwhelming task.

Too many projects fail because little mistakes accumulate and hit the project like a big fire ball.

In fact, one study found that 13.5% of each dollar invested in a project becomes completely unrecoverable. It’s hard for businesses, especially the small ones, to afford such losses.

While we can’t ever 100% guarantee team project success, we can take steps to give it the best chance of success possible.

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

Follow these tips to manage your team project like a pro:

1. Build a collaborative team

First things first!

Find people with skillsets you need (and personalities you mesh well with) and get them on board.

Having efficient and effective team members is crucial for a project’s success.

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Here’s why: individuals have different attitudes, beliefs, skills and experiences. But to accomplish team goals successfully, all individuals must work together as a harmonious crew.

Moreover, lack of cooperation between them can bottleneck the workflow (or worse, derail the project!). To avoid such situations, make sure every single member feels like they can contribute significantly to the project.

Here’s how:

  • Establish open lines of communication.
  • Use collaboration and productivity tools like ProofHub, Workboard, Evernote, Basecamp, Slack, etc.
  • Provide the ability to make suggestions for workflow improvement.

Bonus tip! If your team is local (and going to be working together for a longer period of time), organize fun sessions and take them for outings to better get to know each other, which ultimately boosts team harmony.

2. Plan the project

I know, you’re all excited and want to jump right in. But take just a little bit of time to plan the project and watch your chances for success skyrocket!

Begin by thinking, asking, listening and negotiating with your team about the different aspects of the project.

The plan must be more than a mere breakdown of the project tasks. It should also include other aspects of the project, too, such as:

  • team roles and responsibilities,
  • client contact(s), and
  • conflict resolution plans.

3. Define project success criteria

Whether you use fancy terms like Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or just simply define when you’ve “won,” you need to know what success means to you and your team (and your client).

Is it happy clients? A full bank account? A reduction in waste or improved efficiency?

Make sure to use the SMART technique to quantify your success (so you can be sure you’ve gotten there):

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Realistic
  5. Time-based

4. Identify and assign risks

Let’s be honest – many projects are going to hit some sort of snag. Might be a 2-minute snag that’s no biggie to fix, or it might be a 2-week, slog through a ton of extra work because we totally underestimated this part, snag.

  • Maybe you overlooked, underpriced, or misquoted part of the project.
  • Maybe parameters have changed that are out of your control.
  • Maybe you poorly defined the scope of the project.
  • Maybe something else entirely!

Talk with your team about what potential risks might arise. Identify as many as you can. Make a list and don’t forget to prioritize them on the basis of their effect and the likelihood of their occurrence.

And, that’s not all.

Assign an owner for each risk. This ownership automatically pushes the owners to actively prevent issues (or take action quickly when they happen).

Make ‘project risks’ a default discussion agenda in your meetings. It will surely help!

5. Create contingency plans

You never know when a moment of disaster hits your project and puts it down. This kind of plan not only prevents loss but also prevents panic and keeps you confident throughout the project.

You hope you’ll never need a contingency plan, but don’t make the mistake of failing to create one.

And don’t forget to update your back-up plan as project changes happen.

6. Prepare a solid project proposal

Know your team, know your deliverables, and know how long it’ll take your team to produce those deliverables (or a very good estimate).

Ask as many questions as you need to figure out everything else.

And don’t forget to add in additional project time for unforeseen obstacles, emergencies, or setbacks (like the flu).

Want more on creating a client-winning proposal? Read more here:

7. Break down big tasks

Does your project include huge month-long tasks?

Hint: It shouldn’t.

Divide work into smaller elements. Once tasks are broken into right-sized chunks, assign them to individuals according to skill and interest.

And keep task dependencies in mind! If task B can only start once task A is finished, make sure involved parties are aware of the dependency.

8. Monitor project progress

It is best to divide this process into two parts: Track and Review.

Track:

In order to review, you need a clear view of your estimates and current progress.

Use online reporting tools and / or project management tools to keep detailed notes and schedules of what’s happening (or happened) and when.

Review:

Compare the planned versus actual workflow to see whether things are progressing as expected or not.

9. Manage scope creep

We all know that how easy it is for scope to expand infinitely.

(“Just one more thing…” right?)

Keep a firm grasp on the parameters of the project – defined in the project proposal / contract – and ensure any new changes are properly recognized and quoted separately.

10. Foster flexibility

Nothing remains static.

As a project moves, things tend to change.

Team members should be able to adapt to the changing environment quickly and efficiently, and they can do so when:

  1. You’ve built a collaborative team where everyone feels significant.
  2. You’ve clearly defined the scope of the project and assigned duties so that everyone knows what’s expected of them.
  3. You’ve created contingency plans for when the wheels come off the train…err…project.

11. Use data to drive decision-making

Sounds obvious, right? Make decisions based on supporting data.

(You’d be surprised, especially as team “politics” come into play.)

However, this study conducted by the MIT Center for Digital Business shows that organizations where decisions were driven by data are 4% more productive and earn 6% more profits. (Think that’s not much? On $30k per year, that’s $1800!)

The biggest example of an organization with data-driven culture is Google, where Googlers, i.e. the employees there are quite serious about fact based decision making.

The big question is then, “Which data do we use and when?”

Ask yourself these 3 questions when you’re in decision-making mode:

  • What exactly do I need to know about the problem / situation?
  • Do we already have any solutions developed for this issue?
  • What kind of specific data do I need for the current scenario?

Automatically, you’ll find answers!

Final thoughts

As team manager, watching a project finish successfully can be a thrilling and rewarding experience. (At worst, it’s WAY better than watching a project fall flat.)

Integrate these project management tips into your work culture to knock your next project out of the park!

Have you managed a project in the past? Are you currently handling one? Let me know what works for you (and what doesn’t) in the comments.

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About Kanika Sharma

Kanika Sharma works as a writer at ProofHub. For the past 2 years, she has been writing for various technology blogs. Being an engineering graduate, her background allows her to connect with cutting edge technologies and relate them with real world scenarios. Follow Kanika on Twitter to know more about her.

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Comments

  1. kenzie carter says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I really like the “SMART” technique of project success criteria. I’d like to share my experience here that we were also facing issues like unclear roles and responsibilities among team members, communication gap, meeting deadlines, tracking project progress etc. while working on our projects. But implementing project management tool into our work culture has really helped in overcoming all these issues.

  2. Meanu Normia says:

    Thanks for sharing amazing team management tips, I liked 6th and 8th point most will consider it!

  3. Thanks for sharing such a useful information Kanika. Hope these tips will help me to manage my team successfully.

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