Use these practical project management tips from strong marketing professionals to build a better system and wow your clients with higher quality work.
Poor project management can flatline a seemingly healthy business. Without the right protocols and project goals in place, it can create chaos that leads to missed deadlines, low-quality work, and unhappy clients.
Whether you’re a freelancer or the leader of a small team, it’s vitally important that you invest in strong project management systems. As someone that’s working on growing my business, I decided that the most efficient way to get the best tips was to learn from people who do it every day.
And that’s what I did.
I found 12 strong marketing professionals on Twitter and asked them to share their best project management tips with me. Their suggestions helped me build a stronger system for myself and my team.
In today’s article, I’d like to share these practical project management techniques with you. I hope they can impact your business in the same way that they impacted mine.
- 1. Keep Everyone on the Same Page With the Right System
- 2. Plan for the Unexpected With Risk Management
- 3. Be Willing to Adapt to Changing Circumstances
- 4. View Things from an Omnichannel Perspective
- 5. Make Sure to Always Do Your Research
- 6. Always Keep Lines of Communication Open
- 7. Project Managers, Give Proper Context to Your Team
- 8. Use Software That Integrates With Each Other
- 9. Stay Accountable and Live Up to Your Promises
- 10. Just Act Like a Decent Human Being
- 11. Practice What You Preach for Client Acquisition
- 12. Find Your Niche and Stick With It
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1. Keep Everyone on the Same Page With the Right System
“Use project management software like Basecamp or Asana to keep everyone on the same page.”—Rapidan Strategies (@RapidanInbound)
Project management software has become so common for a reason: The right software makes things easier, even for the most complex projects. The entire team will be able to view what’s needed, and they’ll always know the specific task they should be working on. It’s one of the core tools you should be using to track project progress.
Take a moment to learn some ways to make the most of your project management software, and you’ll be that much closer to project management success.
2. Plan for the Unexpected With Risk Management
“Plan for unexpected—#riskmanagement, be prepared. When anything unexpected happens, everyone should know what to do.”—Just Media (@justmediacz)
Minimizing and hopefully eliminating risks is vital for the longevity of every business. Risk management might sound complex—and it is—but it’s nothing you can’t learn. In fact, it’s one of the building blocks of traditional project management.
Learning about the short-term and long-term risks your business may face will help you prepare your project team to handle them and recover as quickly as possible.
3. Be Willing to Adapt to Changing Circumstances
“More Sugar Ray Leonard and less George Foreman—stick and move, stay light on your feet and you’ll still knock ’em out.”—evok ad agency (@evoklarry)
Every industry has changed rapidly, for better or for worse, over the past decade. The upcoming decade promises to speed things up even faster.
On a much smaller scale, staying adaptable also ensures that you’re ready to take on any unexpected changes to your project plan during the project life cycle. Being able to stay agile and adapt to the changing trends will help you stay ahead of the curve—and deliver successful projects time and time again.
4. View Things from an Omnichannel Perspective
“Always look at things from an omnichannel ecosystem perspective.”—Michael Chase (@chasethisnow)
Don’t rely solely on your core KPIs to understand how your business is doing. Understand every aspect of your business by taking an omnichannel ecosystem perspective. Essentially, this means taking a holistic view of your business process, whether it’s in sales, marketing, project management, or another discipline.
Use this perspective to gain new customers and deeper insights into how you can service your existing ones. You may even find new ways to set yourself apart from competitors and bring in more revenue for your business.
5. Make Sure to Always Do Your Research
“Don’t do anything until you’ve researched and plan, plan, plan!”—Juggling Swords (@JugglingSwords)
While being agile has its importance, there’s a difference between a well-timed pass and a risky Hail Mary. There’s never been a better time to research every option before making a move, particularly when it comes to complex projects.
Avoid option overload, but research the potential results of any business maneuver you’re about to make. Estimate costs, plan out key deliverables, and map out the process from the initial phase and beyond. This will save you so much time, money, and effort upfront. After all, there’s a reason why thorough research and planning is one of the foundations of effective project management.
6. Always Keep Lines of Communication Open
“Timelines and communication. We’re a distributed team and we LOVE @SlackHQ.”—Hunter & Bard (@HunterandBard)
You and your project team members should have multiple methods of communication—and at least one of them should be available on both mobile and your laptop. The best project managers also maintain regular updates with key stakeholders and get their approval throughout the project lifecycle.
For some projects, in particular, having a constant group chat going with your team may be helpful (as long as you avoid the urge to go off-topic) and may very well be what keeps you on top of your project schedule.
7. Project Managers, Give Proper Context to Your Team
“Frame context for everyone. Make sure they all know what they want to achieve and how to succeed together.”—iCrossing (@iCrossing)
Instead of simply issuing orders and creating tasks for your project teams, take extra time to explain the reasoning behind project objectives, project requirements, key milestones, and other major decisions.
When it comes to project management, the best project managers help each team member understand the big picture, and how their specific tasks influence the entire process. This project management practice improves collaboration and makes team members feel more valued.
8. Use Software That Integrates With Each Other
“We have just switched to a new time tracking system @harvest and are integrating it into our CRM, @salesforce.”—Chris Breikks (@chrisbreikss)
Integration is the future of software, as sharing data between different systems can benefit the overall operation. Your project management skills can definitely get support from the right project management software integrations.
Your project management software should be capable of integrating with other solutions you’re using in your business environment, as well as other programs you might use in the future. This won’t just help with project management—it can improve everything from time management and workflow to data accuracy and spending.
9. Stay Accountable and Live Up to Your Promises
“Accountability with words & actions! Always do what you say you’re going to do & always say what you’re going to do. #WinningCombo.”—A La Carte Design (@alacartedesign)
You’re the leader of the project, and as the project manager, you need to lead by example. Follow up on what you say and hold yourself accountable. This is crucial to keep in mind, whether you’re managing small-scale projects or larger projects.
Project managers often delegate tasks, but accountability cannot be delegated. Delegating accountability does work. It’s is something that has to be accepted for a team member to feel accountable and to have them take ownership. As a project manager, the best way to get people to accept accountability is to set them up for success. No one wants to take ownership and show accountability for a project that they know, or believe is going to fail.
If you want people to accept accountability, ask them if they have everything they need to be successful, when they say yes they have taken a big step towards accepting accountability. If they say no, then as a project manager you need to ensure you give them what they need to get there because without it they will never accept accountability.
Accountability is the single biggest differentiator between successful and unsuccessful teams. Team members tend to follow the pace set by the project managers and project leaders, so make that pace a profitable one! With time, accountability will be part of your company culture.
10. Just Act Like a Decent Human Being
“Communicate, be respectful & completely transparent. Those are the keys to successful project management.”—AdVision Marketing (@AdVisionMktg)
Nobody wants to work on a team with a negative vibe, and who sets that vibe? The project manager. Make a conscious effort to treat people well and be transparent in your motivations.
When it comes to project management, other project professionals will tell you, communication is key. Above all, communication should be polite. Although this tip is almost deceptively simple, it’ll likely end up being one of the most important project management skills in your arsenal.
11. Practice What You Preach for Client Acquisition
“Take advantage of email list, create ‘hub’ piece of content to drive leads, run PPC ad, & test your conversion rate optimization.”—Vertical Measures (@VerticalMeasure)
It’s always shocking to see just how many agencies are selling digital marketing without implementing basic knowledge or best practices themselves. Make sure that you’re doing the work you pitch for yourself too. Stay up to date on the latest practices in your discipline, and make learning an ongoing process.
Not only will it provide a higher level of authenticity, but you can also expect to see continuous improvement if you’re truly good at the task.
12. Find Your Niche and Stick With It
“The hardest part is standing out amidst all the noise- focus in on some really specific nuances that you can be amazing at.”—Northcutt HQ (@northcuttHQ)
There’s an old quote that says, “I don’t know a lot about everything, but I do know a lot about everything I know.” This is such a timely saying for those trying to do it all.
You don’t have to offer a whole gamut of services. Find the few things you’re amazing at and sell them. Over time, you’ll become known as a specialist in your industry, and prospective clients will be more likely to request your expertise on various projects.
One of the best things about these 12 tips is that they’re simple enough to implement almost immediately, in virtually any industry. Nearly all of them require little to no money to use too, so new professionals and seasoned veterans alike can use them in their day-to-day operations.
With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll have a much easier time achieving project success—both for now and for future projects.
I’d like to thank everyone that participated in this roundup of project management practices. Do you have any other project management tips or additional resources you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
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This post was updated in October 2021
about the author
Chelsei Henderson is a content marketing consultant helping freelancers and entrepreneurs build successful companies in the digital world.