5 Training Tips to Survive the Project Management Marathon

Posted by Nancy Murray on June 19, 2018

There’s no argument that Project Managers (PM) are the lifeblood of many agencies. However, the support they receive and the tools they use — both abstract and physical — directly correlate to their consistency, which directly affects business. So as a top-level manager or PM, how do you become and nurture the best?

As a multi-time marathon runner and triathlete, I know that the number one element of success is consistency. There is a direct connection with consistent training, great gear, coaching and success. Here are 5 training tips to accelerate the daily project management marathon:

1. Define Your Current Fitness Level

"How great of a Project Manager are you?" Are you nailing everything down to a science every single time? Do you have tools to actually find out? Having the ability to analyze the best projects you have worked on is an important step to identifying your unique strengths and weaknesses. This allows you to create a Project Management Practice (similar to a marathon training plan) that will allow you to grow deeper into your role as you incorporate more sophisticated tactics into your daily work routine and achieve greater results.

Becoming aware combined with diligently tracking your progress allows you to identify how successful you already are, and more importantly how great you can become!

9.9% of every dollar is wasted due to poor project performance, and only 58% of organizations fully understand the value of project management. (Source: PMI Institute)

2. Coach Your Team

If you’re in a leadership position and manage PM’s, you’ve stepped into the role of the coach! Leadership holds the key to project management success. According to Capterra, three-quarters of projects fail because senior management doesn’t get involved. Help your team understand your organization’s strategic objectives and how their projects align. Giving PM’s a look at your company from this perspective will develop stronger business insight and leadership skills to drive strategic initiatives.

This knowledge will act as a key tool to solidify Project Management Practices that will improve delivery practices. Effective leadership coaches should use their influence to inspire PM’s to understand the direct alignment of their projects to company strategy to remove roadblocks, create a heightened sense of consistency, responsibility, empowerment and to drive change.

3. Get Your Gear

Similar to the importance of fitness tracking tools like a GPS watch, project management software is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have to enlighten your awareness and transparency. Your software is the heartbeat of the whole agency. A well-rounded, fully integrated tool will allow a 360-degree project view.

44 percent of project managers do not use project management software, even though Price Waterhouse Coopers concluded that using PM software increases performance. (Source: Price Waterhouse Coopers).

The agency rapid-fire of downsizing or sudden growth are usually due to poor visibility of resource capacity, client loss without pipeline forecast alignment and has a direct impact on your culture. Having precise tools to support the PM practice (and leverage training and coaching for efficiency) will create much needed standardization. Utilizing a tool like WorkBook Software from Deltek — a system that integrates project management, resource planning, CRM, file sharing, forecasting and accounting across all agency operations — will also give your agency a competitive advantage. Ownership of a cutting edge new tool is also a benefit when pitching new clients.

4. Track Your Time

Guess what: If you don’t track and post workouts on Strava™ nowadays, it did not really happen. Track it and show it off. Keep that in mind. How can you understand performance and expect excelled improvements if you only run once a week. In fact, recording your “daily” timesheets only once a week on each Friday doesn’t drive effective project management results. Your Project Management Practice needs to be consistent in order to realize precise goals and eliminate Friday-data-garbage through diligent daily timesheets (literally recorded each day) that will gain clarity and allow you to own your moments.

WorkBook allows you to do all of this with you phone, on the go, as you go and it is so easy that you will never want to look at a spreadsheet or grid ever again. Understanding how you are tracking on each client and allowing management to see your burndown rate on clients and projects will have an overall effect on the culture of the company via adequate utilization rates and most importantly,you’ll never leave billable hours on the table. Through precise tracking of hours, everyone will save time, money and create a workday for each employee that will drive overall company success and happiness. You can read more about the importance to time sheets in a blog post from Deltek here.

5. Realize Your Success

The finish line of your project success is the starting line for your next project. Building and maintaining consistency though your Project Management Practice and leveraging technology – like WorkBook - empowers your team to become great at what they do.

Organizations that undervalue project management or agency-specific technology as a strategic competency for driving change report an average of 50% more of their projects failing outright (Source: PMI Institute). Realizing project successes and reflecting on the tools and practices used to create them will create a nurtured agency culture focused on self –accountability

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