You’ve watched all the classes and are on your way to managing any project with the confidence and knowledge of a true leader! So let’s review the most important takeaways you’ll walk away with from this course. Consider this final class your go-to resource for digging into topics and tactics when you need a quick refresher down the road.
Brett Harned: Hey, welcome to the final class in the art and science of leading projects. By now, if you've watched all of the classes in this course, you're well on your way to taking on any project with a level of confidence and knowledge that shows that you're a true leader. But if you're anything like me, your brain fills up with information and advice and only a few things stick. That's probably because there was a flood of tips and info and the stuff that stuck was the stuff that was applicable to you at the moment. Hey, it happens. So for this final class, my goal is to give you a quick rundown thing of the things that you must do to effectively lead a project. Just a warning, these are quick hits. This class will reference previous classes just to clue you into the most important points in the class. You might call this final class the TLDR version of the course. Use it as your reference to dig into topics and tactics when you need them. Let's jump in.
Brett Harned: First is that you need to know your role. Class number one really covered the role of the project manager because the role and even the title can vary from place to place. It's important for you to fully understand what you're there to do. Remember, a project manager is on the front line of projects defending their teams, clients, and projects from issues like miscommunication, missed deadlines, scope creep, and any other failures. They also champion the wellbeing of the people involved in their projects and facilitate strategic decisions that uphold the goals of the project.
Brett Harned: As a formerly titled project manager, you'll likely be responsible for planning, staffing, and managing the details of your project. But maybe you're taking on the PM role along with your typical duties. That could mean that what you do as the role will scale back. You always want to do what will help you to deliver a project successfully, but you also need to think about how it affects your team's stakeholders and the project overall. Regardless of that role and how your organization is defined, think about embracing the qualities of a great project leader and download the guide in the first class.
Brett Harned: All right. Next up is knowing and understanding project management methodologies. A methodology is defined as a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline. And there are tons of them to turn to depending on the project type and the people that you're working with. In general, it's probably best to learn the methods that are used most predominantly in your organization or your industry. If you watched class number two, you'll know that the most commonly used PM methods are waterfall, agile, and hybrid methods. Waterfall and agile are well documented and used while hybrid is the method that is undefined because you make it what you need it to do. When you're doing that, be sure to consider the project type, budget, timeline, team, and stakeholders. All of those variables combined will help you to determine what will work best for your project. And here's a quick hint. It may not always be the same and it may not work for you the first time around. If you want to get hybrid, also get flexible and adaptable.
Brett Harned: All right. Number three is one of the topics that most people have a tough time with and it's estimation. Because estimates are difficult to nail, class number three offers tactics to help you tackle larger tasks and break them down. If you've got an estimate to get done right now, I suggest you do these things. First, be collaborative. Remember, your team and colleagues might be able to offer insight and stakeholders or prospective clients can usually offer more information to help you to create a more accurate estimate. Second, dig deep. Nothing is high level when you create estimates. You have to get into the details, so you can understand what factors are driving your estimates. That means ask questions.
Brett Harned: Next, look back at similar projects that have been executed in your organization and examine how they were run, what the budgets were, and how they were performed. If you don't have project histories in the form of high level retrospective notes or logged hours in a time tracking tool, think about doing that now with the help of TeamGantt. And finally remember that no estimates are set in stone. List your assumptions, discuss risks, and work out an estimation process that works for your team and your projects. That'll hopefully help to lift any stress you might have around estimates. For more information, tactics, and help around estimates and estimating practices, check out class number three and then check out class number four, which is all about documenting requirements because it'll help you to define what you're estimating and track to the scope of those things. The combination of that and what I'm about to talk about will help you to form the PM trifecta that will keep your project on time and under budget.
Brett Harned: So what was that next thing? It's planning. As a PM, no matter your project size or type, you need to create a realistic plan to help you to determine how the project will run and deliver successfully. Look at your scope and requirements, talk to your team and stakeholders, and craft a plan using the process that will work for your project. Document and list phases and tasks, milestones, and even responsible parties and you'll keep things on track. More importantly, consult with your team and stakeholders on the process and workflow so that you're creating a plan that actually works for them. And then use TeamGantt to manage all of those tasks and milestones, so you can easily spot issues and make changes as needed. Your project plan is one of the most important documents, if not the most important document, on your project. So make sure you take every step to make it as realistic and executable as possible and it'll make your job as the PM a little bit easier.
Brett Harned: All right. Moving on. Your estimates, plans, and requirements set some pretty major expectations on your projects and if you're having any issues managing projects and getting what you need out of people within your process, I strongly recommend you watch class number six and start setting better expectations. A lot of it will come down to being an honest, open communicator, but tools like the RACI chart and a status report can help you to set expectations with your team and your stakeholders and keep them in check as they progress through tasks and milestones. To me, these two documents can be invaluable in terms of keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring that you'll get all of the work on your project done not only on time, but as expected. Plus they don't take a ton of time to create an update, so there are tools that I think you should have in your toolkit. Checkout class number six and download the templates to help you set and manage expectations.
Brett Harned: Okay. Moving on. Everything that I've mentioned so far will help you to manage the scope of your project, but you know that scope creep will always find its way back into your projects. Not on my watch. Checkout class number seven to find some helpful tips to adapt to change and keep your project scope intact. The most obvious guidance there is to use the estimate scope and plan that you labored over because they should very clearly spell out what should and should not be done when it comes to adding or removing scope on a project. In the class. you'll also find practical ways to address or reject change tactfully or accept the change by setting the expectation about what can be done with the time and budget you have and to the quality everyone expects. No matter what you do, rely on your scope and plan, hear out the change, and think through your options before making a major move. Honestly, it really comes down to great communications, which actually is covered in depth in class number eight.
Brett Harned: Great communications build trust and you'll need as much of that as possible when you're leading a team. But what does it mean to be a good communicator when we all prefer to communicate in different ways? Well, I've got you covered. Class number eight presents different types of communicators and ways to communicate with those people. If you can sit down with your team and get them to self identify their communication types and discuss how you as a team can work together and communicate, you'll find that opportunities for collaboration will open up. People will be more happier and magically it becomes easier to accomplish things as a group. Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Brett Harned: Well, it gets better. If you want to be a really good communicator, you should define the types of communications your project will require and determine who should be a part of those communications. That's called a communication plan. It's a simple document that you can complete with your team. The good news is that you can listen to a breakdown on how to build a communication plan and download a template to get you started. Class number eight is worth its weight and free online video gold. Okay, no idea what that means. I mean you'll find it useful, so check it out.
Brett Harned: Then you're going to want to watch the next two classes, which are all about finding tactics to work with the team and stakeholders. While a lot communication tactics will work for both groups of people, it's important to remember that you'll probably get more into details with your team while you're likely to guide a stakeholder through a process. You might even be thinking stakeholders, who are they? Well, class number nine offers direction on how to identify those people who can make or break your project and how to get to know them and their goals or intent for the project. Check it out and you'll hear about the red flags that stakeholders can present and how you can address them upfront and save yourself, your team, and your project from undue stress.
Brett Harned: Then there's your team. As a project leader, you manage them. But you're not responsible for them, so there's a line that you have to walk when it comes to being a friend and being a manager. It's not an easy line to walk and it's one of the most difficult things you have to deal with as a project manager, but if you think about your role as one that serves the team, you might find it a little easier. Class number 10 offers guidance on how to do just that, but first and foremost, it's important to get to know your teams so that you can motivate them and help them to do a great job, asking simple questions to help you understand what motivates them and what gets them excited about doing work. Doing that also helps to set a positive team culture that's open to questioning, conversation, and collaboration. Check out class number 10 for some tips on how to get to know your team, set the tone for your projects, motivate people, and feel great about a job well done.
Brett Harned: And while we're on the topic of helping teams, let's not forget about staffing plans. Class number 11 is all about how you can keep your teammates busy, and productive, and not overburdened. The awesome news here is that you can build on that line of questioning I mentioned as a part of class number 10 and use those questions to determine where your teammates are best suited on projects. Then you can use your estimates and the workloads feature in TeamGantt to make sure that your teams do not have any task conflicts. I really think that if you're an empathetic and practiced project leader, you'll want to make sure that you're doing the best you can to create staffing plans that will keep your teams working on projects and not splitting their time, risking missed deadlines, overrun estimates, or worse, burnout.
Brett Harned: And while you're on it, you may as well check out class number 13, which is all about project time management and productivity. Remember, good time management practices really do start with you. So you'll need to sharpen your skills and show that you're great at managing your time, but also prove that you're actively making decisions to defend your team's time as well. And one of the best ways to show that you're being good about defending their time is to actually not use it when you don't have to. Think about it. When do you seem to use a lot of your team's time? Let me answer that for you. It's probably in meetings. They always seem to suck the time and energy out of projects because they're not handled well. And that's where class number 12 comes in. In that class, I share all of my tips on how to best handle meetings.
Brett Harned: First and foremost, it's determining if you need one, and then it's about creating an agenda that informs attendees about the goals of the meeting and their part in it. Again, it really comes back to great communication practices to facilitate your project even with meetings. So check this class out and download the templates to make sure you're creating useful agendas and using some simple facilitation practices to get what you need out of meetings without wasting time and annoying people.
Brett Harned: And there you have it folks. That in a nutshell are the major points covered in the art and science of leading projects. Now I don't want to minimize anything here. The totality of the course should help you to form practices to make you a better project leader or project manager because each class is full of theory as well as practical tips. Only you know what combination of tips, tactics, and templates you can use on your projects and that's okay.
Brett Harned: Remember, no class is going to solve every one of your project challenges, but my hope is that these 13 classes cover the points that will lead you to make your own decisions about your projects. I'm so happy you joined me in this course and I hope you found it helpful. If you find yourself watching the classes or if you're in the downloads, please feel free to comment on the class page and start a discussion with the class. I'll be checking in and I'm always happy to help. Again, thanks so much for watching and learning with me, and good luck with your next project. I have no doubt you'll nail it.