Traditionally, project management is a concept connected to a temporary mission with a concrete start and end.
The project manager role is to shepherd the specific project to a successful and conclusive end-point. This means that project managers often end up in a thankless role of filling their teams’ gaps themselves.
The world’s most successful and sought-after project managers are in a constant pursuit of better ways to manage. They absorb and analyze information in real-time, use the best new tools like work from home software, and push the project along with a steely discipline that disregards the many distractions of the digital world.
Managing projects in 2021? The following article will explore the top project management hacks you should know.
#1: Choose Your Project Management Tools Wisely
The modern project manager uses an arsenal of tools. You may find yourself bouncing between Zoom, Slack, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, Calendly, Asana, GanttPro, Jira, Workpuls, Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, and so on.
If you were to simply just watch all of your app notifications on a busy day, you’d have your own personal fireworks show of anxiety-inducing pings, chimes, dings, and red bubbles.
It’s truly amazing what any business can accomplish with the suite of project management and communication tools, whether using an employee monitoring software or any other you have at your disposal today.
The sheer variety of tools is pushing against the edges of what is healthy, let alone possible, for any human being to constantly analyze. There comes a threshold of diminishing returns, when too many tools can lead to a messy web that inhibits project workflow.
So, when selecting the tools in your project management toolkit, make sure each has a worthy place in your project management workflow. Make sure you have an objective way to assess whether a tool is in fact improving your job. And resist the urge to adopt every new tool that you hear about Twitter.
#2: Explore Deeper Software Functionality
Most project managers use project management and time tracking software tools to the extent that they can accomplish the current task at hand. Most SaaS products are usually built around one core value proposition for exactly this reason.
This “core functionality” approach can be effective in a general sense. But it may mean you are missing additional opportunities to optimize project management with features already at your fingertips.
For example, most Slack users simply use the app to respond to direct and channel messages. Of course, it is incredibly effective for this functionality. But are you also making the most of Slack Apps?
Slack Apps can connect with Asana, Trello, Gmail, and Google Hangouts. With the Google Hangout integration, you can start a hangout by typing a slash command “/” rather than opening up your Google Hangouts.
This is just one example of a project management tool with functionality depth untapped by many.
Whether you are using project time tracking software or employee monitoring tools, it pays to learn an app's deeper functionality. And it’s easy to do so...
There are many explainer video tutorials on YouTube that describe how many popular productivity and project management tools are filled with nifty little time hacks, automations, and integrations.
Understand your tools enough to fine-tune their settings to accomplish your specific goals, such as simplifying a 4-step process into a 2-step process, or completely automating it.
#3: Fill in the Gaps With Virtual Assistants and Remote Workers
The world’s most popular project management tools have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into R&D to make life easier for project managers. As clever as software is, there are still some nuances that are better served by a human touch.
If you have a variety of tasks that seem rote or repetitive, but are still valuable enough to need human oversight, such as data entry, it’s worth exploring virtual assistants or remote workers.
Instead of assigning a highly-trained member of your team with this sort of task, or worse, doing it yourself, you could hire one or multiple virtual assistants for a fraction of the cost and exponentially more bandwidth.
This approach is best coupled with remote workforce management. Because remote talent can add an extra layer of complexity to project management.
Managing remote workers can be simplified with a monitoring software for employees like Workpuls. Remote work software like Workpuls automates the process of analyzing performance, which can identify and break down bottlenecks in project management workflow.
#4: Enforce a Company Culture of Urgency
Your company culture can be your biggest project management hack. By uniting your current and future team-members under the banner of initiative and urgency, you’ll promote an action-driven culture.
A great example of this “get things done” attitude is Zapier, a fully-remote company with over 300 employees. The company lists “default to action” among its core company values.
What does this value look like in daily work terms?
Think of all the time that gets wasted nudging coworkers that were conveniently sitting idle awaiting instructions.
An urgency-based company culture urges people to find what they need, communicate bottlenecks, and otherwise make themselves available to solve problems rather than defaulting to stand-by.
Don’t Default to “Busy Work”
Defaulting to action doesn’t mean aimlessly doing tasks to fulfill a sense of being busy.
Instead, it’s a culture where proper procedures are built and adhered to instinctively to avoid bottlenecks and continuously drive progress.
For example, suppose a member of your team is genuinely idle and prevented from moving onto the next task, per company policy.
With a bias toward action, they’d feel empowered to utilize this time to further educate themselves on role and industry trends, or research how your organization can improve.
Work from home software like Workpuls can automatically map where an employee is spending their idle time, helping you define whether some activities are more productive than others.
Final Thoughts: The Future of the Project Manager
The most invaluable project management hack is to embrace that your role is in a constant state of flux and evolution.
For example, the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) “Pulse of the Profession” report found that leadership skills have become almost as equally valuable as technical skills in the eyes of hiring companies.
This argument is further bolstered by the WEF Economic Forum “Future of Jobs” report that social skills are one the top skill sets sought after by employers.
Today’s “hacks” are tomorrow’s “best practices.”
The best way to prepare yourself for the demand for softer skills is to master the ability to leverage modern project management and time tracking software to streamline the technical aspects of your role.
Further, employee time tracker tools like Workpuls can generate valuable insights that will help you accomplish the current finite goal of your project management role. As well as help your entire organization become a more productive and effective workforce.
There will be no shortage of innovative projects to be managed, but there will always be a shortage of elite-level project managers that can accomplish often incredibly difficult goals while preserving valuable company resources.
And with the hacks you’ve just learnt, you put yourself on the path toward topline project management.