No business today can thrive without smart, decisive, and effective project management and business leadership. 

The rapid evolution of technologies, trends, and the broader economic landscape requires business leaders and managers to proactively and continuously update their abilities and project management effectiveness. This helps them stay ahead of the game and continue to meet the organization's goals and milestones.

In today's business landscape, where an increasing number of employees work remotely, as opposed to in the office, managing projects effectively becomes even more crucial for professional services project management organizations that prioritize delivering exceptional customer value. 

Why is efficient project management so important? 

In the Project Management Institute (PMI)'s Pulse of the Profession 2020 survey, organizational agility (35%), choosing the right technologies to invest in (32%), and securing relevant skills (31%) were the top three factors identified by executive leaders as the most important keys to business success. These three factors form a strong foundation for effective project management. 

Businesses with a plan to lead in their industries empower their project leaders to stay agile, use the right technologies, keep up with trends, and develop relevant technical and interpersonal skills. PMI offers useful Project Management Professional (PMP)® certifications for these skills.

Forward-thinking organizations also empower project directors with additional project management training, the right level of autonomy, and a clearly defined path to grow within the organization. This incentivizes ambitious and highly skilled project managers to commit fully to the organization's vision, improve project management effectiveness, and tackle projects efficiently.

Effective professional services project management means having a firm grasp on the scope, budget, resources, personnel, and timeline dedicated to a project. An effective project manager is able to manage unplanned issues while keeping the ball rolling on company goals and tasks in progress. 

According to PMI's Pulse of the Profession 2020, "organizations that undervalue project management as a strategic competency for driving change report an average of 67% more of their projects failing outright." 

Smart leadership and project management are vital for keeping a business moving toward its goals, completing one task at a time with clear expectations and direction. Below are four steps that lead to effective project management:

1. Clearly define the problem

Managing a project starts with having a strong sense of precisely what the team is striving to accomplish. It sounds simple enough, but it's easy to get lost in the weeds when dealing with complicated business problems. This kind of limited vision has serious consequences in the long run.

Leaders who start with overly vague objectives can end up blowing the budget and taking up employees' time with nothing to show for it. To avoid that outcome, deeply research and analyze the problem you're approaching to identify any underlying factors. Then, note which stakeholders will be impacted by changes, the scope of the tasks and resources involved, and the tentative objectives the team must fulfill to reach completion.

2. Invite productive collaboration

A good project manager keeps goals in sight, sets priorities, and routinely reminds workers of the next steps required to hit their targets. On the other hand, communication should always be a two-way street. Effective team management strategies call for leaders who are ready to reach out to workers for their expertise and listen to feedback.

One of the essential characteristics of an effective project manager is that he or she regularly consults with the team. The leader sets the overall direction and ensures the tasks each team member works on will push the larger objectives forward. In turn, the individuals see how their parts depend on each other, and all play a role in the mission.

At the same time, the manager should strive to be highly responsive to any problems or suggestions team members bring up. That way, it's easier to catch little concerns before they become significant problems. Plus, employees who feel valued and heard are more likely to work up to their potential.

3. Use tools to monitor progress

Leaders have to keep tabs on every employee's progress and understand how each task fits into the big picture. Fortunately, software solutions make more efficient project management possible without the need for countless spreadsheets. Powerful tools like Wrike's online project management software help in several different ways. You can:

  • View a project timeline and drill down to each team member's contributions
  • Get real-time reports on specific projects
  • Draw on analytics to assess performance and plan future steps
  • Customize workflows for more effective project management

Having these capabilities in place is a huge leg up for both organization and communication in project management. Leaders make more informed decisions with the ability to drill down to a detailed view of the team's progress and consider how it all comes together.

4. Effective project management adapts to circumstances

Management must establish a clear path for the team and track every step and setback along the way. Still, it's important to realize when plans should be reconsidered and workflows adjusted. Every successful project involves compromise and revisions from the original plan. Knowing how to manage a project from start to finish is an essential skill, and knowing how to deal with obstacles along the way is just as important.

It may be a good idea to alter some of the milestones you started with. A certain amount of flexibility allows employees to show off their inspiration and creativity when they have a great idea. The key is to know when to let workers experiment and when to rein them in, based on the principles of effective project management. Each project starts off with a set scope, timeline, and budget, and it can become a major problem when the team creeps beyond the project's scope.

Managing teams effectively turns an organization's goals into reality. Getting there requires careful attention to a tremendous number of different factors and adapting to conditions that never sit still. When leaders have a strong awareness of what needs to be done and a clear view into how team members are playing their roles, they have a far better chance at success.

Get started on your journey to managing projects effectively

Are you a business leader or project manager looking to work smarter with your team? Try Wrike's project management software to set priorities, align goals, improve communication, collaborate better, and manage resources efficiently.