Project management for non-project managers shouldn’t be an afterthought. Such skills fit any sort of ongoing work, regardless of the project’s length. So, project planning is an essential method for you to manage tasks in an orderly fashion.

A project manager isn’t someone you’ll find in complex projects only. In fact, any endeavor comprising project activities should include a project lead. Thus, project managers govern the day-to-day work and carry the team across the finish line.

Their common tasks revolve around micromanaging all aspects of the project. Also, they work on proper team building and allocate resources. They also report the current project success levels to stakeholders and update the project plan.

Key Points and Starting Goals

The first goal of project management for non-project managers is to distill your primary target. Risk management is another focal point for a successful project. To ensure a smooth workflow, the project manager assigns roles fitting the scope of the project.

That way, the team can orient themselves by the important milestones and divide the responsibilities. However, the list of project management skills also delves into team performance. So, aside from deriving realistic goals, the formal project manager also sets the pace.

Struggling with a limited timeframe falls within that job description. Managers tend to create leeway via broader deadlines to make the most out of it. However, prioritizing the tasks is what makes for a good project schedule.

To enforce the right project management methodology, identify the more urgent tasks. Next, group them into categories regarding their importance for the project’s completion. Here’s how you can track the project status by using task categories:

  • The first category – Important and urgent tasks
  • The second category – Less important but urgent tasks
  • The third category – Important but less urgent tasks
  • The fourth category – Less important and less urgent tasks

Corralling your daily tasks in such a way will allow you to track them at a glance. Even when juggling multiple focal points, take the time to review your pace. That way, you can better plan the rest of your day and avoid falling behind schedule.

What Is a Project and What Is a Task

In short, a project is a more structured chain of activities. Completing it demands moving from a predecessor task to the next, all the way to the final goal.

Tasks are often one-man jobs that contribute toward the project’s completion.

Aim for an Efficient Workflow

To fully utilize your day, craft an effective action plan. Setting up the tasks in a way they won’t overlap much and preserve the momentum is key. Here are some common project management methodologies:

  • Consider implementing the priority matrix
  • Regularly update the sheets
  • Shortlist your daily tasks
  • Create a comfortable working environment
  • Schedule strategic breaks before the next push

Working without clearly defined goals causes 30% of all projects to fail. Other pitfalls include wrong internal structuring (40% failure rate) and miscalculations (38%). Also, rapid changes in the objectives can lead to an early end 35% of the time. However, utilizing the usual project management tools can mitigate many of those issues.

Plan for Potential Risks

Much of the know-how around project management boils down to knowing which path to take. However, sometimes you’ll have to manage risks to profit later on. Hence, you should set damage control systems in place as a safety net.

Effective Project Management Process

Most projects won’t warrant a keen eye for the smallest of things. Thus, aiming for a flawless result is not always smart. Instead, it’s better to keep your sight set on a more feasible prize. That way, you won’t spend resources chasing a perfectionist’s score.

On a similar note, avoid putting too much on your plate at once. Multitasking can save time, but it can also backfire. The American Psychological Association advises against such methods. According to their findings, multitasking leads to lesser productivity 40% of the time.

The Required Skill Sets

Setting Up Proper Communication Channels

The project team should avail smooth routes to pass on issues and observations. Even with small projects, it’s one of the basic project requirements. Thus, managers spend almost 90% of their workdays setting the grounds for on-time task management. Obviously, such goals require you to have enough experience in your portfolio.

On the flip side, improper team communication can quickly sink a project. Once the group of missed deadlines starts growing, it leads to failures 28% of the time. Hence, even project management for non-project managers should atone for this.

Solid Project Organization

The project manager should hold the reins and strive to achieve success in all scenarios. However, the project life cycle can keep on curving and producing dead-ends.

Thus, staying focused and solving issues as soon as they appear is key. To pave the way for such a streak, properly organize your and your team’s responsibilities.

Clearly State (Anchor) Your Terms

As the team lead, a project manager will often have to haggle for a better deal with the sponsors. This involves aspects outside the project budget. “Anchoring” is a powerful technique when negotiating such terms. It involves making an early statement of your terms and sticking by them.

Such a practical method often puts you in an advantageous position. It creates a cognitive framework that other parties need to follow. Next, you can weigh their proposals and shape the final outcome to your preference.

Foster a Productive Work Environment

A leader should know how to inspire other team members to boost their performance. This often translates to ensuring everyone has a clear understanding of the task at hand. Also, frequent team-building exercises can further develop their skills.

Be Systematic in Your Approach

Scheduling the project chart requires critical thinking and practical solutions. So, strive for pragmatic problem-solving when planning out your day. Focus on these aspects:

  • Envision a path toward an easy goal
  • Carefully construct your arguments when switching courses
  • Be open to out-of-the-box ideas
  • Spot loopholes that you should work on
  • Derive a system for dealing with unforeseen consequences
  • Ask for justifications for any new assumption

Have the Right Mindset

Your team’s overall performance often stems from your positive attitude. Keeping the team spirit high is a recurring goal when managing projects.

Thus, set such principles and remain true to them with your work. Your team will take note and start following that example.

Project Management for Non-Project Managers – Becoming a PM

Many newcomers opt to invest in various certificates to make them stand out. However, most employers avoid online certificates on purpose. Instead, focus on a given category and keep on improving on a single front at first. If you can earn a certificate in that area, go for it.

Of course, passing certain exams can open a lot of doors in that business. For example, acquiring the Project Management Professional certificate. That is an esteemed achievement that can improve your chances of landing the job. Yet, merely taking the exam requires years of relevant working experience and formal knowledge.

Another great option is the Certified Associate in Project Management certification. Other than that, study up-to-date guides like the PMBOK Guide and Standards. Currently, Scrum is a very popular platform for gaining such certificates. It offers titles like Professional Scrum Product Owner, Professional Scrum Master, etc.

Either way, becoming a professional project manager remains a lifetime-long endeavor. As the market changes, you shouldn’t cease expanding your skill set. Even getting a new college degree can open new horizons for your future status. So, get used to gradually acquiring knowledge to stay competitive in this field.

If you liked this article talking about project management for non-project managers, you should check out this one about project management OKRs.

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I'm the manager behind the Upcut Studio team. I've been involved in content marketing for quite a few years helping startups grow.