written by
Sean Thomas

Project Management Lessons You Can Only Learn from Experience

Project Management 4 min read

Project management is an increasingly important function in the workplace today. It is highly essential to organizations looking to increase the efficiency of their work and decrease the time they waste reaching conclusions on projects.

The official responsibilities of project managers include planning for a project, initiating the work, executing the work, monitoring the workflow and closing the project in the best manner possible. As part of their responsibilities, these managers also cover a number of other responsibilities including the management of project teams, setting timelines, overseeing deliverables and communicating progress with stakeholders.

The frequency of work and the responsibilities on their shoulders can often be a bit too much for most professionals just stepping into the workforce. There are certain things that project managers only learn with experience, after covering the hard miles in their journey.

Now, what if we let you in on our secrets and share some of these lessons with you? That’ll be great, right? So, stick with us as we look at some project management lessons you can only learn from experience.

1. Begin with the End in Mind

Through your time as a project manager, you will come to realize that all successful projects come with a start date and an ending point. Just like a marathon runner with their eyes set on the end goal, project managers should begin every project with the end in their mind.

Once managers set their eyes on the end goal and truly envision the finish line, they are bound to get to their desired goals. Your end goal can help keep distractions at bay and help you remain focused on the task, as you monitor and measure progress.

2. Understand the Objective

Whenever you’re working on a project, it is absolutely necessary that you understand the overall mission and objective before diving headfirst into the project. Before planning and initiating the project, you should sit and understand your overall mission.

Don’t Forget
Photographer: Marten Bjork | Source: Unsplash

During this comprehension process, you will come across a number of situations that can influence or change the direction of your project from the ultimate objective. It is during these moments that you should remind yourself of your initial understanding of the objectives. Do not change objectives or move toward a different mission halfway through the project.

3. Be Considerate

Always differentiate the personal and professional side of a project. This is something you’ll find a number of project management professionals doing with ease. It is important to take time out and discuss the scope of work, deadlines and other details with your team members, colleagues, friends and even family. This will help all major personal stakeholders in your life understand the limitations that you’re currently dealing with as you get nearer to the completion phase.

It is also important that all team members understand the communication style of others and also know about the schedule, personal life details and working style of all members on the team. This information and a better sense of communication can help manage expectations.

4. Manage Risk

Risk management is perhaps one of the most important parts of project management, and something that experienced project management professionals have done a number of times. The risk management process usually starts with understanding what the risk is and then developing a risk response strategy that helps with mitigating the damage when things don’t go according to plan.

Understand and list down all possible risks at the start of your project management journey. Once you have done that, you should come up with a mitigation or management strategy that helps you avoid the risk altogether or minimize its impact. Risks can be big or small, so don’t let the smaller ones slip away.

5. Perfectionism Is a Myth

This is perhaps one of the most important lessons that project managers learn from experience. As a human being, you’re bound to aim for perfectionism in the way you conduct yourself or take ownership of a project or task. However, there are dozens of circumstances or situations that can pop up in an unforeseen manner to disrupt your plans and negatively impact the outcomes you had planned for.

An arrow hit the target
Photographer: Ricardo Arce | Source: Unsplash

For this very reason, it is necessary for both, project managers and team members, to stop running behind perfectionism. Instead, these team members should set their eyes on meeting the predetermined objectives set for them. Once the completed project meets stakeholder expectations, you will get the satisfaction or the perfect results you required.

6. Manage Time

Time management is one avenue where project managers improve with experience. Managing your time properly is a vital part of completing a project as per schedule. There are several strategies that project managers can employ here to remove glitches and get the results they require. Having a well-defined plan to achieve project objectives is perhaps the most productive strategy for time management. Communication with team members is an essential part of time management and can reduce inefficiencies that result because of time poorly managed.

7. Use Proper Tools

In a business environment where efficiency is key, project management teams need to benefit from the tools on offer to them. These tools not only make a PM’s job easier, but also ensure that managers, employees and administrators are able to meet project objectives in a manner they first desired. Project management tools are available in a wide variety today and allow you to track progress, streamline communication and manage tasks among many other things.

It is impossible to become perfect at project management overnight. The more you work in the industry, the more you’ll learn about the learning curve it takes to improve your management skills and do your job more effectively. However, with these lessons, you now know a major chunk of what other project managers have learned through experience.

Project Management