Project management

7 Essential Project Management Best Practices Every Project Manager Should know

Learn 7 of the most essential project management best practices that will take your projects to new heights
Jenna Green
5 mins

Project management is a critical skill for businesses of all sizes, especially those focused on service delivery. However, without a solid framework in place, projects can easily veer off track, resulting in delays and scope creep. That's why it's essential to follow best practices to maximise project success. In this article, we will explore 7 key project management best practices that can help you successfully deliver projects-on time and on budget, every time.

From defining clear project objectives and breaking them down into manageable tasks to effective communication and stakeholder engagement, these best practices will keep your project on the right track. We'll also dive into the importance of setting realistic deadlines, creating a comprehensive project plan, and leaning on project management software to streamline processes. Whether you are a seasoned project manager or new to the role, these best practices will provide you with the insights and strategies to deliver successful projects consistently.

If you didn't already know, up to 70% of projects fail, specifically in the IT sector. Don't let poor project management be the cause of your project failure. The good news is there are ways to prevent it. Let's explore the best practices that will empower you to execute projects with confidence and efficiency.

Project Management Best Practices

1. Define Your Project Scope and Objectives

At the heart of successful project management lies a crystal-clear understanding of the project's scope and objectives and is one of the fundamental project management best practices every project manager should incorporate into their project management playbook. This foundational step involves defining the boundaries of the project, outlining deliverables, and establishing key performance indicators to measure success. By engaging stakeholders early on to gather requirements and expectations, project managers can ensure alignment and prevent scope creep throughout the project lifecycle.

Defining project objectives is a critical step for project managers, helping to define the expected outcomes of the project.  When a project's scope and objectives are well-articulated from the offset, project teams can make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and stay focused on delivering value to the organization and its stakeholders.

To enhance project success, project managers must continuously validate and communicate the project scope and objectives, seeking feedback and buy-in from key stakeholders. This iterative approach fosters transparency, builds trust, and reduces the risk of misunderstandings that could derail the progress of a project.

2.   Develop a Detailed Project Plan

Once the project scope and objectives are established, the next critical step is to develop a comprehensive project plan that outlines the key tasks, milestones, timelines, and dependencies required to deliver a successful project. A well-crafted project plan acts as a roadmap for the project team, providing clarity on the sequence of activities, resource requirements, and critical paths that must be followed to meet project goals.

Effective project planning consists of 3 critical components and should be incorporated into every project plan

Breaking down the project into manageable work packages

Estimating time and effort for each task

Creating a realistic schedule that accounts for uncertainties and risks.

By involving all project members in the planning process and soliciting their input, project managers can take ownership and accountability, commitment, and accountability among team members, driving motivation and collaboration.

Project plans also help project managers to proactively identify and address potential bottlenecks, resource constraints, and risks that may impact project delivery. By regularly  reviewing and refining the project plan, teams can adapt to unexpected changes, optimise resource utilisation, and keep projects on track for delivery.  

3. Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Effective project management hinges on the clear definition of roles and responsibilities within the project team. By assigning specific tasks, authority levels, and accountabilities to team members, project managers can establish a framework for collaboration, minimize conflicts, and ensure accountability for project deliverables. Each team member's role should be aligned with their skills, expertise, and availability to maximize productivity and efficiency.

In addition to defining individual roles, project managers should establish communication channels, escalation paths, and decision-making frameworks to streamline workflow and facilitate timely resolution of issues. By fostering a culture of open communication, trust, and mutual respect, project teams can navigate challenges effectively, leverage diverse perspectives, and drive innovation in project execution.

Scheduling regular check-ins, progress updates, and performance reviews help reinforce accountability, celebrate achievements, and address any deviations from the project plan promptly. By fostering a culture of continuous feedback and improvement, project managers can nurture a high-performing team that is committed to delivering exceptional results and exceeding project expectations.

 

4. Communicate and Collaborate

Effective communication lies at the heart of successful project management, enabling teams to align on goals, share information, and resolve conflicts efficiently. By establishing clear communication channels, protocols, and expectations, project managers can foster a culture of transparency, accountability, and collaboration that drives project success.   

Regular team meetings, status updates, and progress reports serve as opportunities to share project updates, address issues, and solicit feedback from team members. By encouraging open dialogue, active listening, and constructive feedback, project managers can create a supportive environment where team members feel valued, heard, and motivated to contribute their best to the project.   

Making use of collaboration tools, such as project management software, instant messaging platforms, and virtual workspaces, project teams can improve communication efficiency and streamline information sharing among teams. These tools enable real-time collaboration, document sharing, and task tracking, empowering team members to work seamlessly towards common project goals.   

By prioritising effective communication and collaboration, project managers can build trust, foster teamwork, and cultivate a culture of continuous improvement that propels project success and strengthens organisational resilience in the face of challenges.

 

5. Manage Risks and Put Contingency Plans in Place

 

Because of the dynamic nature of project management, uncertainties and risks are inevitable. Effective risk management practices enable project managers to identify, assess, and mitigate potential threats to project success proactively. By conducting thorough risk assessments, developing risk registers, and implementing risk response strategies, project teams can safeguard project timelines, budgets, and outcomes from unexpected disruptions.

Contingency planning plays an important role in risk management, providing a safety net for addressing unforeseen events or deviations from the project plan. By developing contingency plans for key risks and establishing trigger points for activating these plans, project managers can boost project resilience and reduce the impact of disruptions on project delivery.

 

Regular risk reviews, scenario planning exercises, and lessons learned sessions enable project teams to stay vigilant, adapt to changing circumstances, and continuously improve risk management practices. By embedding a risk-aware culture within the project team, organisations can support proactive decision-making, resource optimisation, and sustainable project performance.

 

6. Monitor and Track Project Progress

 

Continuous monitoring and progress tracking is essential for ensuring that projects stay track and in line with key project objectives, making it number 6 on the list of project management best practices to master. By establishing key performance indicators (KPIs), milestones, and progress metrics, project managers can assess project health, identify early warning signs, and take corrective actions to steer the project towards success.   

Regular progress reviews, status reports, and performance assessments provide project managers with valuable insights into project performance, resource utilisation, and stakeholder satisfaction. By analyzing project data, identifying trends, and comparing actual outcomes against planned targets, project managers can make informed decisions, prioritize actions, and optimize project delivery processes.

Leaning on project management software and dashboards enhances visibility into project status, facilitates real-time reporting, and enables data-driven decision-making. These tools empower project managers to track project dependencies, allocate resources efficiently, and manage risks effectively, ensuring that the project stays on track and delivers value to stakeholders.

By embracing a culture of continuous monitoring and tracking, project managers can proactively address issues, seize opportunities, and maintain stakeholder confidence throughout the project lifecycle, driving successful project execution and organizational growth.

 

7. Evaluate and Learn from Project Outcomes

 

As projects reach completion, it is crucial for project teams to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of project outcomes, processes, and lessons learned. In fact this is probably one of the most important project management best practices that project managers can incorporate into their project management processes. By analysing project performance against initial objectives, identifying successes, challenges, and areas for improvement, project teams can extract valuable insights that inform future projects and enhance organisational capabilities.

Post-project reviews, stakeholder feedback sessions, and retrospective meetings provide opportunities for project teams to reflect on project experiences, celebrate achievements, and identify opportunities for growth. By capturing best practices, documenting lessons learned, and disseminating knowledge across the organization, project managers can foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation that drives sustained project success.

Incorporating  project post-mortems, benchmarking studies, and industry research, organisations can stay up to date with emerging trends, best practices, and technologies that can enhance project delivery. By embracing a growth mindset, adapting to change, and learning from past experiences, organisations can adapt to evolving market dynamics, seize new opportunities, and successfully deliver projects.

 

Streamline Project Management with Magnetic  

Magnetic is an all-in-one workflow management platform designed and built for professional services firms. By integrating project management, resource planning, and collaboration tools into a single, easy-to-use interface, Magnetic helps teams streamline their processes and enhance productivity. What’s possible with Magnetic?

- Project Planning and Scheduling: Magnetic allows project managers to create detailed project plans, set milestones, and allocate resources efficiently.

- Resource Management: The platform offers tools for tracking resource availability and utilisation, ensuring that team members are optimally assigned to tasks.

- Cross-team Collaboration: With features like, document sharing, and task tracking, Magnetic facilitates seamless communication and collaboration among team members.

- Monitor Performance: Magnetic provides dashboards and reporting tools to monitor project progress, track KPIs, and identify potential issues early on.

- Integrate with the tools you love: The platform integrates with other essential tools and systems, providing a cohesive workflow and eliminating the need for manual data entry.

Magnetic boosts productivity by centralising project management tasks and providing intuitive tools, enabling teams to work more efficiently and deliver high-quality results. Its collaboration features ensure team members are always aligned, reducing misunderstandings and enhancing teamwork. With real-time reporting and analytics, project managers gain the insights needed for informed decision-making, keeping projects on track. Additionally, Magnetic scales to meet the needs of any organisation, offering flexibility for managing both small projects and large portfolios.

Like what you see? Book a demo or start your free trial today!