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4 Unconventional Tips for Successful Project Management

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January 22, 2021
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5 minutes
Leo Saini
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

What makes a project successful?

Usual project management tips include ‘plan in advance’ or ‘set achievable milestones’. In fact, you’ll find a lot of articles out there that basically cover the same thing.

But the thing is, if you are a successful consultant and/or project manager, you certainly know the basics already.

So, in this article, we are going to talk about some completely different project management tips that you won’t usually hear.

1. Embrace Different Methodologies for Managing Consulting Projects

Consulting projects, like any other projects, come with their own challenges. Fortunately, people who have already faced those challenges while executing projects also came up with solutions. The emergence of new project management methodologies, such as Agile and Scrum has made managing projects a heck of a lot easier.

A lot of companies also use a hybrid of different methodologies in the same consulting project. According to a survey by LiquidPlanner, 57% of respondents used a mixture of various methodologies to manage projects in 2017.

You don’t have to stick to one way of managing projects. In fact, you should walk the extra mile and employ the right methodology in the right place. Yes, it might seem like a bit of work, but this is your chance to flaunt your consultant skills. After all, companies hire consultants for a reason. Your consultant skills are what you get paid for, so don’t leave any stone unturned and use the right combination of methodologies to ensure successful completion of the project.

"Innovation is the creation of the new or the re-arranging of the old in a new way" – Michael Vance.

2. Expect Scope Creep

Whenever you’re working on a consulting project, be mentally prepared for the dreaded scope creep. It may or may not happen, but nonetheless, you should be prepared and nothing should take you by surprise. Scope creeps occur for many reasons. Sometimes, you might encounter clients who want to get some extra work for cheap, and sometimes, unexpected changes in the project might occur due to unforeseen circumstances. But usually, scope creeps happen because of a lack of clarity and foresight.

Scope creeps are prevalent in many types of projects, and consulting projects are no different. For example, if you’re hired as an Agile coach to help an IT firm with Agile workflow development and team training, you might think that your project will end after you have trained the upper management. Then, you get an email that the company wants you to come back to review and critique a couple of Sprints. Oops! And this is just one example, there are many more. However, it is your duty to stay professional in such situations. Expect these things to occur and use your consultant skills to deal with them.

3. Know the Difference Between Transparency and Over-Communication

There is something about transparency that both companies and consultants love these days. Maybe it’s the trend of the era. However, it’s necessary to understand what level of transparency is right. For instance, sending dozens of emails to all the team members just to ‘keep them in the loop’ might not always be the right idea.

Sometimes, too much transparency could backfire. Firstly, a team member could lose focus on what’s important if they are bombarded with information. Also, there’s a risk of sensitive information getting leaked to the wrong person.

Of course, transparency in consulting projects has benefits. It makes the whole team feel included and helps them collaborate well. But make sure you know where to draw the line so that you don’t overwhelm your team with a lot of information. This is a very useful project management tip.

4. Be Good at Reading the Team’s Mind

As a consultant, being collaborative and professional with the team is not enough. You should go one step further and hear the things they don’t say. Never assume that everyone on the team has understood the tasks completely and check for non-verbal hints. For example, if someone is looking visibly confused, you might want to check on them one-on-one later without pointing at them during a team meeting.

Ultimately, it’s the team who will do their part to make sure that the project is successful. Some members might be quick at learning and adapting, while others might take some more time and eventually finish their task. It’s your job to take everyone together as a cohesive unit.

Final Thoughts

To ensure that the project runs smoothly, sometimes, a project manager has to use a combination of different tactics and methodologies. Also, scope creeps might occur in a project and smart consultants should prepare for them beforehand. If the scope increases for any reason, at least you would be prepared for that. And if it doesn’t, well, then you can sail home earlier.

Another important aspect of project success is the ability to differentiate between transparency and over-communication. Of course, a project can be very complicated if useful information is withheld and there’s a lack of transparency. However, too much communication might backfire sometimes. So, the key here is to maintain the right balance. And last but not least, both verbal and non-verbal communication of team members need to be taken into account. Hear the things they don’t say and offer assistance to those who need it.

Where to Find Interesting Consulting Projects?

If used correctly, these unconventional tips can help you complete your project with ease. But before you can plan and execute a project, you need to find one. If you’re a freelance consultant, getting projects that suit your requirements could be tricky. That’s why you should send your CV to an online consulting platform. You’d be surprised by how many businesses visit these consulting platforms in order to find consultants of all kinds.

It’s simple. Get in touch with an online consulting platform. Then they will evaluate your profile and get to know you a little better. It’s not like a job interview, so you can mention what type of projects you prefer and what kind of clients you like to work with.

Once you’re in a consulting platform’s talent pool, your chances of closing new projects will be significantly high as they will contact you immediately if a project opportunity that matches your skill set comes up.

Ultimately, it’s the team who will do their part to make sure that the project is successful. Some members might be quick at learning and adapting, while others might take some more time and eventually finish their task. It’s your job to take everyone together as a cohesive unit.