Best Practices

11 Project Management Goals to Guarantee Success

Jonathan Friedman
April 21, 2021
11 Project Management Goals to Guarantee Success

If you're involved with project management, you know how important it is to set goals and be an effective leader. After all, you want your team to be successful since they reflect on you and your efforts. But how do you establish project management best practices that will put you and your team on the path to success? Keep reading to learn about 11 project management goals that will guarantee success!

1. Create a project initiation document

When it comes to establishing project management goals, an excellent place to start is with a project initiation document (PID). This document lays out your plans for the project, so it's a place where you can articulate a vision and the steps needed to see it out. Think of the PID as a guide that gets your project off to the right start.

You can determine collaboration teams, list out outside vendors you'll use, and set benchmarks. You'll be able to create a professional, polished document that holds your team accountable and helps you reach your professional goals as a project manager. It also serves as a point of entry for people from outside your team to understand what you're doing.

Get the necessary approval from all parties before moving forward. The last thing you want to do is seem as if you are going rogue with a project management plan. From a professional standpoint, you'll earn more respect if you check in with the stakeholders first.

2. Prioritize communication with your team

Clear and effective communication is key to your project's success. Without it, you'll struggle to gain buy-in and trust from your team members. Additionally, your team may struggle to know what their specific contributions should look like, which hurts efficiency.

Be as transparent as possible, even when you're hitting roadblocks. Without transparency, you compromise trust and productivity. Team members might not feel like their contributions even matter if they don't hear from their team leader regularly.

Your team members should understand their roles and the benchmarks they'll need to meet. Project management goals should be realistic and actionable. And team members should feel comfortable getting ahold of you if any problems arise.

They also need to know that you are invested in their success — and approachable. Meet with team members regularly to enforce accountability and demonstrate engagement. Being a strong communicator benefits the project, but it also helps you professionally establish yourself as a good team leader.

3. Map out a schedule

Another early step should be mapping out a schedule. What steps are necessary to achieve a positive outcome, and what is the sequencing of those steps? If you can lay out these steps — and manage them well — you'll position yourself for an efficient process with minimal risks or setbacks.

You'll want to check with your clients and superiors to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the project's timeline. Don't make assumptions. Always ask, especially if you need to adjust your schedule at any point.

While you can reach for whiteboards and sticky notes to plot out your schedule, you'll streamline the process if you turn to technology. It's not worth the time or stress to juggle lots of different deadlines and meetings. Project management tools are critical to your success.

Embrace software that can help you stay organized. Another benefit of using software is that you can share information on metrics with your team's relevant members. This helps keep everyone in the loop about progress, budgeting, and setbacks.

Regular meetings need to be a part of this schedule, too. You want to set your team members loose and embolden them to complete their tasks — but strong management means that you'll also be checking in on their progress.

4. Include setting concrete objectives with your project management goals

You need to set clear, measurable objectives as part of effective project management. And when you have delegated responsibilities to groups and individuals, your team needs to know what they're aiming to achieve.

Remember that project management means that you're overseeing a specific project for a particular period of time. It's different from management in the broader sense of the word. Setting measurable objectives will help you to stay focused on completing your project with a deadline in mind.

Although setting goals may sound easy, it requires much thought. You don't want to overextend your team toward unrealistic expectations. And you don't want to get hung up on the minutia of specific tasks while losing sight of the big picture.

Most importantly, you want to set goals that can be assessed using data and feedback. Broad, vague goals won't give you a real picture of how your team is doing — and that could set you up for failure.

5. Anticipate risks and be ready to respond

Especially if you're taking on an innovative project, be aware that it will come with certain risks. Unforeseen problems will come to the surface at inconvenient times. A client may reroute their request, for instance, or a particular part of the project supply chain may hit a delay.

When these problems come up, you want to avoid any deeper issues that will displease the client. That's why it's vital to have a risk management team ready to go within your project. This team will be able to step up and focus their attention on righting the ship or enacting a contingency plan to keep things on the right path.

6. Stay on budget

Know your project's budget — and stick to it. It would be best if you lay out a detailed plan before you start spending any money. Consider parts of the project like marketing materials, consultant fees, vendors, and other supply needs that will impact your bottom line.

As a way to stay organized, you can use Excel spreadsheets to track spending. That way, you can review expenditures quarterly, if not sooner, and determine where to cinch in spending habits. Be routine about updating your expenses as you go, and be transparent about where the money is going.

Log all information related to budgeting, and be very detailed. Use management software to share this information with the parties impacted.

While it might be tempting to spend every dollar allotted to you, rethink that idea. After all, if you can complete the project under the projected budget, you'll earn appreciation from your superiors. And that will help you establish a more substantial reputation within your workplace.

7. Remember your company's strategic objectives

What are the larger strategic goals of your company? If you can't come up with them within a few seconds, it's time to pull up your company's mission statement and read it thoroughly. Take the time to ensure that your project's goals align with the bigger goals of your company.

You want to create actionable project management goals within your project plan that also reflect your company's vision. Look for information on previous projects that might relate to the one you're working on. You may find language from the documentation that can inform the project management goals you draft for your project.

Why is taking this step necessary? Your company's management will be pleased to see that you're serious about connecting an individual project to the company as a whole. You'll impress the people above you, and that may help you grow professionally in the company.

8. Keep track of the client's adjustments

As you move forward with a project, be sure to track all adjustments requested by your client. Just as you will need to keep detailed records of budget items and actions, you'll want to keep track of any changes that could shift your project management plan.

There's a good chance that the clients may make requests as you go. While a few smaller requests might not pose too much of a challenge to your management plan, sometimes they will. And if those small requests balloon into larger requests or ones with missional impact, you'll be staring at a challenging situation.

This process is known as scope creep, and you'll want to watch out for it. Scope creep occurs when too many smaller requests for adjustments amount to a more significant shift in the project's goals.

Ultimately, you do want to keep the client happy. At the same time, you don't want to be put in a situation where you must overhaul your management plan midway through the process. Strike a balance between the two, and consult with trusted team members for advice.

9. Always look for opportunities to learn

If you're new to project management and trying to prove your worth to the people in positions above you, you need to dive in. And that includes continuing to learn.

Don't assume that you know everything, even if you're organized and responsible. There is always more to learn about setting and executing project management goals. Look for opportunities to learn and diversify your skillsets.

Read the latest project management articles, take online courses or workshops, and ask more experienced project managers. It's never a bad idea to invite someone with a strong knowledge base for coffee to gain insight. You'll expand your network of resources, too, and that may help you down the road.

Investing in continual learning means that you'll sharpen your skills. And that translates to better performance in your role!

10. Appeal to the stakeholders in your organization

Part of project management is knowing how to communicate your plan and progress to outside stakeholders. Would someone from another department in your organization be able to understand what you're doing if they saw your PID or talked with you?

If your company's chief financial officer gets ahold of you or one of your team members, they must be able to understand what you're doing. Your sense of management and communication is a direct reflection of your skills and knowledge of the company.

Having a strong and clear sense of strategic alignment within your plan and all documentation will help your advantage. If you can achieve that goal, it will increase the chance that you'll impress your stakeholders.

It's also essential to appeal to people at all levels within your organization who may encounter the project. Ensure that everyone on the team has a few sentences in mind that they can use to describe the project. People may come and go from your project, too, so you want any newcomers to the team to know what they're doing.

11.Take the time to look back on your process

When your project is in the final stretch, schedule some intentional time to reflect on the experience. What worked well? What could have gone more smoothly with the project?

Review your PID and find areas where the project stalled or took a turn for the worse. Be as honest and objective as possible when doing this self-assessment.

You'll create opportunities to grow in the future. And you'll have specific content you can share with your superiors when they ask about the project's success.

Additionally, ask for feedback from your team. Taking negative feedback is never easy, but treat it as an opportunity for growth. Plus, if your team met your project management goals, you should find some positive feedback to take away from the experience.

Make a list of areas where you can improve. If your communication was robust initially but petered out toward the end of the project, you'll want to stay more consistent the next time. And invest time into addressing the causes behind any problems you encountered.

Set your team up for success with project management goals

Setting project management goals enable your team to achieve tremendous success — and helps you grow as an asset to your company. With a clear plan, strong communication, and transparency, you can achieve your project management goals. And you'll position yourself for other even better opportunities in the future.

When you're ready to meet your project management goals, contact us, and we can help!