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Griffin Knotts - 05.15.2018

Five Essential Skills for Project Managers

In the digital development world, being a successful Project Manager can be tricky at times. From staying on top of new technologies and industry trends to dealing with team member and client concerns, it’s our job as project managers to juggle a million things at once without breaking a sweat. Here are what I believe are the top 5 attributes that make a Project Manager in almost any industry successful.

 1. Time Management

"What is the timeline?" is the very first question to be answered on any new project. Within the same three-month timeframe, I was once asked to build a single webpage on one project and an entirely new responsive website for another. Those are two drastically different requests that require very different resources and skill levels. Once I know the deadline the client is expecting, I can come up with a time- and benchmark-driven plan of action to execute the request. A timeline lets me know how many resources I need to complete everything by the deadline and allows me to start mapping out accurate budgets for the project.  At Sagepath, we keep projects on track and reduce risk by building in buffers in the event of unexpected delays. These buffers allow time to recover without impacting the overall timeline of the project.

 2. Financial Management

Setting up the budget for your project is always a balancing act. No matter what industry you may work in, everyone operates on set, and often tight, budgets. I’m responsible for making sure that my team is working as efficiently as possible within budgets to reduce any potential set backs that may impact project completion. There are several ways to track the overall financial health of your projects and how quickly you’re burning through your budget. Find the way that works best for you and check your project’s health continuously. To make sure project revisions don’t catch us off guard, Sagepath uses cutting-edge analytics tools to proactively monitor the health of our projects. Also, by looking at past examples, we are better able to determine the level of impact unexpected changes may have on project budgets and adapt quickly to keep budgets on track.

3. Team Management

Very rarely will a project manager have people reporting directly to them. Nevertheless, it’s vital to know your team members’ strengths and weaknesses and be able to play to and bring out their strengths. I’ve found that the fastest way to learn more about my team is to go out for an off-site lunch together. Getting together outside of the office allows people to open up and talk about their interests. Every project needs a good leader, and a good leader is one who invests their time in their team. One way that Sagepath encourages team growth is through post-project retrospectives, in which we discuss lessons learned that help us to continually improve how we manage our projects.

4. Client Management

Being the single point of contact between the client and my team brings many responsibilities. Managing client expectations is at the top of the list. Besides maintaining a healthy, happy relationship with clients by keeping them informed throughout the process, it is also my job to challenge our clients’ proposed changes when experience leads me to believe there is a better solution. I tap into my real-world experience and use my best diplomatic skills to explain my solution to gain client buy-in. When there is a problem, I've found it's best to find a solution before contacting the client. Clients are reassured when they are told "There's a problem and here's what we’re doing to fix it.”  Transparency is a key ingredient in the way Sagepath approaches every project. We’re not afraid to ask questions, give honest answers and provide the consultative expertise that serves our clients best.

 5. Deliverables Management

Whether you’re working in Agile or Waterfall methodology, a Project Manager should define what the project deliverables are. This is a high-level list of project to-dos to be completed for the client by the agreed upon deadline. Once deliverables are defined, the project manager is responsible for communicating those deliverables to their development team, so project planning and ticket grooming can begin. When planned properly, your development team should be able to check off these deliverables at a steady pace. Sagepath project managers make sure that everyone is on board with the project scope, from keeping funding and resources on track to setting expectations and applying the latest methodologies.

If you have a challenging project, talk to us and learn more about how our best practices for project management can keep your project in budget and on time.