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Project management on fire - cool down, these tips will help

8 min read

They say that project management is easy, it is like riding a bike they say: except the bike is on fire, you are on fire, everything is on fire and you are in hell.

Life of project managers is not always rainbows and butterflies. They need to face problems very often, sort out internal and external communication as well as handle risks and any problems along the journey. Managing a project brings a lot of responsibility and stress, but also satisfaction and joy when the project finishes with astonishing success. We have provided some tips for you to follow, to prevent your project from becoming true burn-out-pipelines. Your Projects will be delivered in high quality and on time while you will remain a cool head at all times.

Onboarding for your project? Yes!

According to Gallup research, only 2.5 percent of companies complete 100 percent of their projects successfully. It can be caused by poor performance or ineffective project management itself, but also by a lack of setting up workflows or defining the goal of the project.

Everyone who is involved in the project, no matter what their role is, needs to get familiar with the scope, objectives, tasks and required deliverables, as well as deadlines and rules. It can sound a bit like onboarding practice for the project and that is it, indeed. You need to take into consideration that tasks differ from each other and many projects require a quick adaptation to changes - that is why you need to be sure that your team members are able to take challenges and cope with any obstacles. For the team, knowing how to take care of specific tasks and how workflows work is crucial.

In order to have any project managed, I’d suggest to create documents and checklists. Even more so, add “videos” to actually show “how to do it” so that the reader can understand the document on how to manage this specific task in project management.

Aazar Ali Shad, Head of Growth @

Communicate with your team and stakeholders

Communication is key - not only in sensitive industries. Without proper communication, your efforts can be in vain and you may lose a lot of time, or even money. No matter if you work in a distributed team, cope with the project with people on a few continents or work in a small office, both online and offline, written and verbal communication can be troublesome. How to avoid any problems and make your communication as smooth as possible? There are quite a few things you can apply.

Keep it simple!

Don’t overwhelm your team with communication rules. Your crew definitely has enough tasks to accomplish and giving them some sophisticated communication procedures can make them unsatisfied and crushed. Keep it simple, clear and easy to understand for everyone. The more tangled you make it, the more hesitant and insecure your team can be, and it can result in the shape of the whole communication within this particular project. You need to remember that your team members differ from each other and while some of them can be early-adopters, others need more time to get convinced to use something or not.

Meet up and talk!

Don’t forget about the power of regular meetings and catch-ups. It can be a bit tricky since a lot of people tend to make meetings as long as possible or discuss some trivial things over and over again. But, please don't forget about the advantages. Even if your communication is the most effective, it will not always replace meetings over the real - or virtual - cup of coffee. This strengthens the team spirit and decreases the danger of too many misunderstandings and information gaps within the team.

Our tip: Many project managers introduce short forms of communication, for example regular stand-ups, where those involved in the project share their challenges and tasks they had during the last days/week. This can be a very first step for those who don’t like to waste time or articulate their tasks and prefer action to words. This kind of stand-up only takes a couple of minutes and helps both the particular member and the rest of the team understand the progress of work and spot potential obstacles, drawbacks or threats so they can offer their support or brainstorm about the solution. Not a fan of classic stand-ups? A short exchange on a regular basis can be made online as well, thanks to Collaboration Tools.

Introduce a feedback culture!

Request and give feedback. Keeping all your colleagues in the loop with progress and feedback related to selected parts of the project helps to avoid misunderstandings and can save a lot of time and work. Feedback has to be honest - put all your sympathies aside and focus on what works well and what can be improved. The right feedback can be a gamechanger for the whole project. Also, this is where Collaborative Leadership can find its place, soothing any conflicts, reminding about goals and values and providing comments.

Set and communicate a clear workflow

Once you identified who is going to be a part of your team and what is the aim of the project you are responsible for, it is important to prepare a clear workflow and project structure. This is how the process and finally also the results are supposed to be optimized. Yet, this only works if everyone is into the workflow and copes with it.

Kick it in a Kick-off-Meeting!

Start with a kick-off meeting to introduce the project to your team, to motivate all members and to fit them for the first phase that is about to start. This is where you present all the details of the project plan and the workflow you are going to apply to it. It can be an overwhelming experience for many to receive a mass of information all at once. Therefore, it makes sense to support with regular follow-ups and a clearly structured task management. Everyone has to know what they are in charge of and what they have to start with at the very beginning. The usage of project management tools will help to keep all necessary information accessible and the whole project on track.

Our tip: Task management will be more effective if you keep a clear structure of naming your tasks. While we do not want to influence your decision, it is common to add a lot of slashes or dashes to differentiate parts of your project from one another.

Remain on track!

Did anyone say anything about tracking? While micromanagement won’t pass the exam in many industries and cases, it is always good to take a regular look at the performance and identify possible bottlenecks. If you don’t track it in real time, if you don’t analyse progress and optimize your team’s productivity and deliverables’ quality, you may end up with incomplete project full of flaws.

Wrap it up!

When the project lands safe and sound, it can be a high time to open up a bottle of champagne but also to prepare a wrap-up meeting where all summaries, analysis and conclusions can be conducted. After the project ends, you can have complex data you can work on and improve your performance for the next projects.

Make the best of your planning process. It's highly important to set clear, measurable and frequent milestones, with deadlines and defined team member roles. When the project starts, track and adapt your strategy when necessary. However, don't be too pushy and don't micromanage, this won't take you far.

Adam Hempenstall, CEO @

Introduce risk management procedures

Each and every project is connected with some risks. For many of them the biggest risk can be a delay, while in others, risky factors can be related to losing money or brand reputation. Identifying, prioritizing and estimating the likelihood of risk occurring is crucial, even if at the end it turns out that it was not needed at all. Better be safe than sorry. Make a risk response team who will be in charge of any potential procedures taken after any risk escalate. Sort out the clear structure for acting quickly and reacting in real-time. Any delay in overtaking risks can cost you a lot of time and money, and without clear procedures you are nothing but done.

Our tip: Prioritizing risks will help you recognize situations that can easily be solved and some serious problems that need more organized support or time to overcome them. The most common way of prioritizing tasks and deliverables is to put them on a scale from 0 to 5 or 10.

Keep it secure

This is the point a lot of managers and teams forget about. Working on the project requires members to exchange many pieces of information, passwords, logins, sensitive data and just personal comments about some tasks and deliverables. All this data has to be secure, and any leak is a threat not only to the project, but also to the organization that is in charge of it, or to the involved brand and client. Security is the underestimated factor, but it gives a lot of flexibility when actually working on the project. Knowing that data is safe, you can focus on a project core instead of thinking whether your e-mail reached their destination safely or not.

Another point is not about the security per se - in the meaning of cybersecurity. You should protect your data and work by documenting absolutely everything that can be documented. This way, not only do you ensure yourself you have everything to finish the project or you can help other team members’ (or yourself) in a heartbeat, but in case of a failure of your project, you are able to find out what and why didn’t work as expected and learn your lesson. Documenting can be exhausting if you are not used to it, soon you will find out though that you can take a lot of advantages out of it.

Many projects fail because of the lack of data and progress measurement. Project managers need to set up milestones and test deliverables at each milestone throughout the project. Results they get will tell them precisely what works and what doesn’t, how effective their strategy is, and how likely they are to meet deadlines successfully.

Nick Jordan, Executive Editor @

Use the right project management software

According to Wrike, 87% of high-performing companies use project management software. It does not come as a surprise: companies do not stop seeking solutions to make their project management easier.

While there are many tools on the market you should try, you should find a solution

  • that has high security standards
  • that is user-friendly so your team members’ will happily and quickly get through onboarding and start using it on a daily basis
  • that has a high flexibility and the right funktions to support your individual Workflows

Stackfield comes as a natural choice as one of the tools to give a go of: you can work securely, delegate and track tasks, work within projects, exchange files and collaborate on them. Did we just whet your appetite? See what we have to offer.

While there is no secret potion for hassle-free project management, there are many little steps you can take to make your project work well and deliver what is expected. It helps to be surrounded by reliable tools, a responsible team and the right procedures to achieve success.

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Lena Wimmer
About the Author:
Lena Wimmer is Product Marketing Manager at Stackfield. She is passionate about American literary history, great content and cinematography.
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