Getting started as a project manager
Whether it’s your full-time job or an occasional requirement of your role, getting started in project management can sometimes be a daunting prospect. Projects are dynamic by nature as they constantly evolve and shift, at least the ones worth managing do. As a bona fide project manager taking the first steps on your project management career, you’re probably wondering where you should get started on the project in front of you. The answer to that is: it depends.
Every project you manage will be unique, with its own set of resources and deliverables as well as multiple stakeholders with their own individual needs. That being said, there are some regular steps you can take to make sure you start every project off on the right foot.
Get up to speed
While you’d like to believe that every project you manage will be shiny and new when you get your hands on it, many of the projects you’ll be required to manage will have already started or they might be tied to a broader portfolio or program of projects. This means your first step will be to speak to your project management predecessor if possible or the person who has had the greatest involvement in the project up until this point. The information they give you isn’t make or break for getting started however, as you’ll still need to make your own judgement calls on how best to manage the project moving forward.
Check your paperwork
When starting out as a project manager, it’s essential that you get into good habits for information gathering and record-keeping. Your ability to collect and appraise project documentation in the early stages will ultimately determine your level of success as the project advances through the project life-cycle. The project master plan is an obvious place to start and you’ll want to also track down any recent reviews or assessments of the project. Next, you’ll want to have a look at project funding to determine if you have the financial resources required to meet deliverables and obviously, you’ll need to assess the project deliverables themselves to ensure they’re realistic and achievable.
Make a good impression
Businesses and organisations are defined by their people and in turn, so are projects. Project management requires you to manage both the needs and the designated duties of a large and diverse group of stakeholders. The best attribute you can bring to this component of project management is an honest and open approach as well as the initiative to hear what every person involved has to say. Even if you choose to disregard the information stakeholders have given you at the start of the project, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you’ve already made the best possible first impression by listening to their ideas and asking them questions.
Project management can be complex and intimidating when you’re just starting out in your project management career. By following the steps above, each time you begin managing a project, you can rest assured you’re giving yourself the best chance of becoming a highly successful project manager.
AIM’s project management short courses offer everything from entry level courses, designed for new and aspiring project managers to advanced programs, designed to complement the skills of experienced project managers. Our project management qualifications are among the best in Australia as they’re based around the industry-leading Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK®), ensuring your knowledge and skills will be highly regarded in the industry.