Project management is a function that all consultants have to execute at least once in their careers. Enjoyable or not, project management is a crucial skills for consultants to learn & will prove valuable for years to come. Throughout my time in consulting, I’ve found that project management style can vary by person, so it’s important to find what project management style works for you. Regardless of management style, organization in project management is key. It’s difficult to manage stakeholders, timelines, and conflicting priorities without staying organized. When working on project management engagements, I learned a few habits that helped me, a naturally disorganized person, stay organized and help drive projects along smoothly.
A large piece of project management is aligning several stakeholders to a common goal. Often, these stakeholders have conflicting priorities, making the task at hand exponentially more difficult. Managing a project and stakeholders involves several meetings & conversations to align on key decision points. However, it’s easy for someone to forget decisions or change their mind down the line. Because of this, it is critical to document and socialize each decision made.
After every meeting, I’ve made it a habit to note down and email out key decisions made and next steps, along with an associated owner and deadline. This helps keep everyone accountable for decisions. Even if it’s just a casual conversation with a co-worker or client, be sure to follow up the conversation with an email documenting any decision that may impact the overall project, and be sure to keep all impacted stakeholders aware.
For taking detailed notes and documenting action items, I like to write things down first rather than type on a computer — this is a practice that has helped with memory retention, making me sharper and quicker on-the-job. This Moleskine notebook is designed specifically for project management, and can go a long ways in helping you stay organized.
I also love using a Montblanc pen to write with — it gives me something to look forward to every time it comes to writing something down.
It may be useful to learn more about project management best practices and techniques without going through formal PMP training. This book, Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager, can be a great resource for helping consultants manage projects and can help consultants stay organized Yes, formal PMP training can be a plus, but most consultants aren’t looking to make a lifestyle out of project management. Rather, it is a necessity to delivery quality work & products for clients.
Project management may not be the most exciting topic for consultants, but it is a daily, unavoidable reality. Putting time into being an effective project manager is important, and staying organized is a crucial piece of that. From documenting and socializing key project decisions to keeping detailed notes, staying organized will go a long way in becoming making sure your projects run smoothly.
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