7 Key Steps to Keep Projects Moving Forward

Project Manager

7 Key Steps to Keep Projects Moving Forward

Working in a project management role can seem overwhelming at first — defining goals and objectives, prioritizing tasks, and adjusting project schedules to maximize team productivity.

However, keeping projects moving forward both internally and with the client has its own challenges as well. Not only do you need to delegate work to team members in a timely manner, but you may also need additional information from the client first to complete the task or prioritize the workload.

Navigating all this can be daunting in the beginning, and keeping everyone on track so the project can keep moving forward is much easier said than done. Here are some key steps to increase visibility and maintain forward momentum.

Examine Relationships

Identifying stakeholders and their roles in the project help keep a project moving forward. Although having this information is important, oftentimes it is only part of the equation. You’ll also need to put yourself in each person’s shoes to truly understand their pain points, what motivates them, and which goals and objectives are top priorities.

By engaging with and examining the relationship you can begin to make improvements and adjust your approach. Have you walked a mile in their shoes yet? If not, this may be the perfect opportunity to realign your strategy and create a more open relationship that yields the results you are looking for.

Analyze Goals and Objectives

Clarifying goals and defining objectives should always be the first step in moving a project forward. Reflecting on this process and assessing these deliverables allows you to optimize your priorities in real-time to be more effective.

Projects move fast, get updated constantly, and scope changes frequently. Sometimes, an issue that was top of mind gets overlooked or moved to the wayside for something more important. When you continually analyze your goals and objectives to make sure they are aligned with the scope of work being implemented, you can proactively avoid most bottlenecks that bring a project to a complete standstill.

Monitor Timelines and Schedules

This sounds like a no-brainer, right? And yet, no matter how much time you spend strategizing, outlining dates, or making internal documentation to keep track of everything, things can still fall through the cracks. This is because timelines and schedules can be tentative!

This means they’re inherently designed to be changed, moved, or updated at any point to reflect the new deadline. That’s why monitoring them is so important: It allows you to stay up-to-date with any new information in the pipeline to keep the project moving forward and on time.

Fluid Communication is Dynamic

When it comes to communicating effectively, the speed and quality of the exchange of information play a crucial role. Think about the last conversation you had with someone. Was it fluid or dynamic for some reason? Using a fluid communication style consists of a clear flow of linear information presented in a simple way to understand. Using a dynamic communication style focuses on the details to meet an objective.

Combining the two allows you to communicate information in a way that is both direct and relatable. Instead of processing the linear information immediately, engage with it for a moment (verbally or mentally), and pay attention to the message or details to formulate a deeper understanding. This will give you the time you need to inquire and decide if the information warrants a quick or delayed response to achieve the desired results.

Responsibilities vs. Expectations

Managing responsibilities and expectations is a complex formula that is influenced by every detail of the project. In order to keep a project moving ahead and in the right direction, you need to know what the expectations are and who is responsible. To be effective, this needs to be outlined and communicated clearly.

Defining goals, objectives, responsibilities, and expectations at the beginning of a project helps keep everyone accountable. Clients have their expectations of the work being performed, and internal team members have their responsibilities and ways of doing them.

It’s not uncommon for these aspects to be in conflict with each other, which can quickly derail any project. Being supportive and clear with both sides on what is expected increases your chance of success.

Flexibility and Adaptability

An aspect of project management that can easily be overlooked is flexibility and adaptability. Being flexible and having the ability to adapt on the fly and change direction is what moves projects forward. Your team should feel empowered and flexible when priorities change, and the client should feel comfortable and secure when decisions have been approved. Adapting this to real-world situations and communicating what is expected is how you stay organized and forge ahead. Applying this knowledge will not only keep you on top of your game but will also improve business relationships.

Maximizing Value

Projects can become stale for many reasons: the client no longer sees the value in your efforts, internal team members may be losing steam and burning out, or communication has broken down to a point where nobody remembers who is responsible and what the original scope of the project included.

Making the scenario mutually beneficial to everyone involved can remove this stress. Each person should be invested and actively participate in their success. A client who can see measurable results from their marketing efforts will be more inclined to increase the budget. A team member who is recognized for their hard work is likely to be more productive. Communicating this investment to each person will allow you to maximize the value of their contribution.

To summarize, understanding your relationships and how they operate can improve response times. When project objectives are constantly changing, monitor and proactively update schedules and timelines to reflect the new changes. Remember, how you communicate is crucial; using a simple and clear communication style will allow you to analyze a dynamic response in detail. When managing expectations or responsibilities, remain objective and supportive of everyone involved. Being flexible increases your ability to adapt and pivot when the time is right. Finally, investing time in both your team and clients to recognize measurable events maximizes the value of everyone’s effort.