If you are reading this, the chances are that you are a young project manager that is freshly starting a new career. It’s a competitive domain and some things might get scary, but bear with me for 5 minutes and you’ll see that if you take care of a couple of things, you’ll be on the right track. So here are a few tips to kick-start your journey to version 1.

The project

First things first: always remember that the entire business is itself a project. There are a couple of major things to think about here: the projects, side-projects and the people that make them come true (in the world of project management, the people are usually referred to as “resources”). You need to track you projects and to keep an eye on who is working on what.

Do you have enough resources available to cover the workload?

Do you have to many resources available and could take in more work?

There are just so many questions. Let’s take them one by one and see what you need to do.

What is the start date of a project?

Management projects overview

In case your project is not already started, you should seek out to find the start date. This is very important as a lot of things can push back a project start if they are not done in time. You need to secure enough resources and materials to be able to start the work.

Do you have enough resources?

When the project starts you need to allocate your resources.

Do you have enough people to deliver the project in time?

You need to take care of the resource allocations. Keep an eye on who’s working on what so that you’ll always know if you can take in one more extra project or kick start a side project on your own.

Are your documents secure?

Document Management overview including sharing and versioning

Any company has legal documents to take care of. Today almost all documents are in some sort of digital format like Word or PDF files. It’s easy to lose them and at times it could be hard to find them. Ideally, you will structure your documents based on clients, projects and employees so that the information is easier to find. Depending on your country, you’ll have to archive the documents for a number of years so think about a cloud hosting solution for facilitating file access and an offline solution to make sure that whatever happens, the files don’t get lost.

Are you making money?

If you are selling some services, you need to make sure they get invoiced in time. Keep track on who worked on what and for how long to make sure you invoice correctly. Also keep your records on the status of each bill, some clients tend to “forget” to pay them. A good old Excel file might do the trick, but there are automated billing software products available to make it all easy. Quite a few worked hours are lost at the time you create your invoices, and this means you lose money. If you have a lot of clients, you might lose a lot more than you expect.

The resources

Unlike projects, resources are actual living persons that have all sorts of needs. They need to be payed accordingly to their work skill and the amount of time they invested in your company. People need vacations and you’ll have to make sure there is someone to cover for them while they are away.

Do you think about resources cost?

Each one of your resource has a, probably, different costs. Some of them may have a fixed pay contract and some of them may be paid by the hour. It’s good practice to keep track of the resource costs and always know if you have budget for the next month or if you can afford to hire some new resources.

What about vacations?

Availability time-off management included bank holiday

People need to take some time off from time to time. Each one of your resources may have a different number of contract vacation days. Your resources will ask for vacation days and you’ll have to approve or reject them based on the company needs and if there are available resources to cover for them. You’ll also have to keep in mind that in the request vacation period, some of the days may be bank holidays and the respective resource remaining vacation days should be calculated as such. It’s good practice to track all of this in some sort of table to have a complete overview on who’s available for work.

Are you over and under allocating?

Sometimes you don’t have enough resources and you might be required to over allocate some resources on a project. Depending on your country’s legislation, over allocation could require some extra payment for those resources. In some countries this means you have to pay you resources with 150% for the extra time so this will result in reduced profits.

 

If you are under allocating, you won’t have to take care of extra fees, but this means that you pay some people for doing nothing, and it’s your fault. Do not worry though, this just means you could have enough resources to take in some extra workload, so you’d better start calling those leads!

Who’s working on what?

Task Management list

I’ve heard this question for countless of times. Sometimes it’s such a pain to know who is working on what project and on what task, but do not despair, this days there are plenty of options for software that does exactly that. Try finding something that has options to track tasks and who’s working on them, the start and end of a task, task stages and comments on those tasks. Maybe a Kanban board will also help sometimes.

Let’s go!

That being said, this is just a scratch on the surface of what you’ll have to do as a manager. It should be enough for you to kick-start your career. You’ll have more to learn and there are some great, free and paid, software tools that can help you. Here, let me google that for you: http://bfy.tw/GXib