Freelancers are generally busy people who are used to wearing lots of hats, whether they’re looking for new clients, working on projects, networking with other freelancers, or keeping the books.
One important skill that’s important to master is project management.
Project success factors
There are lots of tasks that need to be completed during a project’s lifecycle.
This includes success factors, which are the elements of the project that must be put in place to ensure that it achieves its mission. In fact, many of them fail because the project’s success factors are not correctly identified, and there is no proper project management plan in place.
Being able to undertake and successfully execute clients’ projects is essential. Ultimately there will be many factors affecting the project outcome. Was the project’s scope accurately defined? Was a risk assessment conducted properly? Was pm software used?
Were the success criteria defined at the beginning? Was project execution consistent throughout the entire process? Were the projected goals communicated in a clear way?
So what does it take, exactly, to successfully manage projects? Do you need to be in constant contact with project stakeholders? Should you be using project management tools? What are some of the best management practices you should be executing during the project lifecycle? What does project failure look like?
If you want to make effective project management part of your freelancing repertoire, keep reading as we reveal some of our secrets of successful project management.
1. Write down the phases of the project
Before you get started, plan it out. This will allow you to visualize all the phases of the project, ask questions and seek help if necessary, ensure that you have all the pertinent information, and negotiate if required. After you complete this overall analysis, you’ll have a much better idea of what needs to be done. Defining project success is a critical factor that will ultimately affect the final outcome.
2. Consider your methodology
There are many project management methodologies you can use, from Critical Path Method and Waterfall to Agile Project Management. Get familiar with your options and use the one that best applies to the project at hand. Additionally, there are plenty of Excel project templates, including Gantt charts, available to make the planning process as smooth as possible.
3. Define your factors
Defining and then accomplishing, critical success factors are vital for achieving success. There are five factors which are essential for proper project management. First, you have to agree on project goals, you must have clearly defined plans, you need proper communication with all parties involved, you need to manage the scope of the project effectively, and you must have the right support.
4. Break down large tasks into smaller ones
Large tasks can often be daunting. The best approach is to look at the different phases of the project and break them down into multiple, smaller tasks so you can more accurately estimate how long they will take and track them more easily. You’ll also want to consider task dependencies, i.e., the relationship whereby one task or milestone relies on the performance of other tasks before it can be performed.
It’s also worth noting that this type of breakdown might reveal activities that you hadn’t thought of before but which need to be completed as part of the overall project and factors affecting different elements of the project that you hadn’t considered.
5. Focus on the hard steps first
When you’ve got a large project at hand, tackle the most challenging and important aspects first. By focusing initially on the uncertain aspects of the project, those with the most risk and those that are the most essential, you can get those out of the way and then move on to easier, more predictable tasks. Always keep in mind the project’s schedule so as not to deviate from the established timeline.
6. Be realistic on what can be accomplished
It’s important to set goals from the beginning, but instead of establishing tight deadlines, be as realistic as you can and give yourself some breathing space. You’ll be able to work more comfortably and you might even be able to over-deliver on some of your deadlines and engage in less strict project monitoring.
This is especially true if you need to outsource certain parts of the project. When it comes to your subcontractors, consider padding the deadline, i.e. give them a deadline well before your final deadline with the client to ensure that their work arrives on time.
7. Monitor progress
When you’re working on a large project that’s completed over time, it’s important to do regular check-ins to make sure you’re on track to achieve your defined success. Evaluate your progress (and that of any other freelancers or companies you’re collaborating with) on a regular basis. Monitoring and control are important for ensuring that you’re going to be able to meet your deadlines and project performance will meet all of the established requirements.
8. Consider project risk
Project risk needs to be always considered . Once you identify any potential risks, they must be analyzed to determine any impacts on the project, both quantitative and qualitative. If risks are identified, you’ll need to determine the steps to be taken to mitigate them. Many projects fail because risk factors were not adequately analyzed.
9. Use the right tools
Are you a paper and pen kind of freelancer? Or do you prefer using general psa software, MS Project and pm tools? Whatever your style, pick the one that’s most comfortable for you.
When you’re busy project planning, laying out the various parts and keeping track of all your tasks, you should use something that aligns with the scope and size of your project, allows you to be organized, and lets you manage and track all aspects. Choosing the right project management tools will ultimately help you reach your goals.
10. Get closure
Proper project closure is just as important as project initiation. You want to conclude successfully without letting any details fall through the cracks and disappointing your clients. Proper closure will allow you to deliver the project risk-free to a satisfied client.
Success is attainable
Project success is not elusive if you follow these tips. The best way to learn the ins and outs of this skill is not by reading project management articles or project management guides but, rather, by rolling up your sleeves and getting the experience.
It’s highly recommended to develop a project management plan when you get started as there are many factors that can lead you to either success or failure during the project life cycle. We’re confident that with these tips and secrets in mind, success will be more attainable.