12 Project Management Tips for Busy Tech Leaders
Project management is a crucial skill to master. Tech leaders in particular often juggle multiple tasks at once, and they must understand how to prioritize their responsibilities.
It's not always easy to find a balance, though. To keep things moving successfully, you need to understand your team's strengths and be able to clearly communicate priorities and expectations.
Forbes Technology Council members offered advice for leaders in the tech space who want to improve their project management skills.
- Create A Process And Stick To It
Sit with your team and figure out a process. Your process might be to get the wireframe done first, then assign who will work on each module, work on modules simultaneously when possible and test it once everything is complete. Throughout the process, communication is the key. Keep a culture of open communication even if it is for bad news. Make a culture of sticking to these processes. - Vikram Joshi, pulsd
- Let Your Team Work In The Ways They Prefer
Co-design the process with your team and re-evaluate its effectiveness regularly. We've used Slack, Trello, Pivotal Tracker, Jira, Asana, and more and found the tool is less important than buy-in from the team. If they prefer sticky notes on a wall, let them work through the process design any way that makes sense. When they have it nailed, let them choose the tool to digitize the experience. - Michael Lee Simpson, PAIRIN
- Align Your Projects with Customer Needs
One of the key components of technology project management is the alignment of the project with the customer blueprint. Each time a project is proposed, it should be lined up with a customer roadmap to ensure the outcomes are supportive of customers or stakeholders. The projects that align with customer and stakeholder output should take priority. - Maria Clemens, Management and Network Services
- Delegate, Then Provide Support
To manage all the projects effectively, the tech leader needs to delegate authority. The leader needs to have a broader vision and goals in mind and effectively convey them to the team. When the team is marching forward to execute the plan that's been laid out, the leader needs to act as second in command by constantly aligning the teams and create a support system to remove roadblocks. - Raghu Konka, iPass
- Don't Get Distracted By The Little Things
In John Doerr's recent book, "Measure What Matters," he focuses on OKRs. I believe these are an effective way of management, but the big takeaway is to understand what your key objectives are as a leader and focus on what is going to create results for them. Too many leaders get distracted by things like feature requests that often lead to delays instead of focusing on goals and the big picture. - Zach Bruhnke, Halleman Bradley
- Be Clear About When And Why You're Switching Projects
As tech leaders, we understand the why of switching between multiple tasks and projects, but it's easy to fall into the trap of being "too busy" to communicate that to the team. The team members then feel whipsawed, and it can appear that management is just flailing around without rhyme or reason. The people who comprise tech teams are smart people -- take time and explain things to them. - Scot Wingo, Get Spiffy
- Practice Frequent, Transparent Communication About Goals And Priorities
Top-down and bottom-up, tech teams work best when the priorities are well-understood and shared. This means frequent and open discussion about priorities and roadblocks, ranking the tasks and goals, and sharing the results of this ranking process. This also means accepting feedback from the tech teams and at times pushing back on the requestors with honesty and options. - Timothy McGuire, J.S. Held
- Regularly Evaluate Priorities
Differentiating between the critical and the important is the difference between success and failure. We are always battling against the law of resource constraints, which is essentially managing between the timing it takes to fund, acquire and deploy resources. We have a weekly prioritization meeting attended by group heads in which we decide where we should and should not continue to invest. - Craig Bandes, Pixelligent
- Track Your Team's Time
Time-tracking tools are vital to the project management process. It's important to know how much time is being spent on each component of a tech project to find ways to become more efficient and determine who is being productive and who may need some attention. - Chalmers Brown, Due
- Know And Use Your Team's Strengths
One piece of advice when juggling multiple projects is to have clear priorities and an understanding of the capabilities of your teams. Assign the best people available on the most important project at that moment. Things can change quickly. Priorities shift and problems appear, and that can require reassigning resources. Knowing which resources to move is critical to achieving project goals. - Chris Kirby, Retired
- Take It One Project At A Time
Although you can manage multiple projects at a time, you can only work on one project at a time. Even though tech leaders will manage multiple projects, the staff that does the actual work on the projects should only work on one project in order to ensure the fastest track to success. - Carlos Melendez, Wovenware
- Maintain A Positive Attitude
Venting to co-workers about how much you have to do can put your team in a negative space. Juggling multiple projects is a good thing -- it shows your organization is busy and you're needed. Avoid promoting that you're overworking and hit the ground running to guarantee you're making a positive contribution in every project. - Abdullah Snobar, DMZ at Ryerson University
Source: All the above opinions are personal perspective on the basis of information provided by Forbes and contributor Forbes Technology Council.