Project Management teams have a crucial function in every company. They implement new tools – often across several locations and departments, they develop innovative solutions to solve existing issues, and work on continuous improvement projects, just to name a few. We sat down with René Stalinski, our Sr. Project Process Manager, who shared his Top 5 Tips about how to best manage projects at varying levels of expertise.
What are your main responsibilities in the Project Management team at AEC?
René: Every project starts with the setup of a project team. Afterwards, the planning and sequencing of the tasks begin; we outline what and when will be executed. The Project Management team owns the responsibility for both steps and supports the project team with the coordination throughout the whole project. This means we support and enhance collaboration while also taking care of the tracking & reporting of the different tasks.
What is the ultimate first step when starting a new project?
René: Having a clear problem statement and scope definition are the crucial first steps.
What are the 3 words that come to your mind when you think about Project Management?
René: Organization, Preparation & Coordination.
How do you handle time-related issues during a project?
René: Tracking the pre-defined milestones and due-dates is the most important aspect of managing time-related issues. If something crucial is delayed, we will raise a “red flag” towards the rest of the project team and the leads. To avoid raising red flags, we in the Project Management team constantly follow up & protocol the status together with the project team members.
What would you tell your former self on your first day in Project Management?
René: Planning & preparation are key, even though this is time-consuming and will become more precise during a project. The more effort that is spent on planning, the fewer problems will appear during the project life cycle. Also, having a clear structure is essential for the project team to follow. So go slow at the beginning, as it makes you faster later, and more successful overall.
What are your 3 Top Tips for a newbie in Project Management?
- Try to get a brief understanding of project management theory. Start with Waterfall & Agile.
- Try to involve the team as much as possible and enhance collaboration but make sure you assign clear roles. Project management is teamwork, not a one-man show.
- Communicate as best as possible, not only when dealing with issues but also when the project steps are running well. People need to be informed and report back in every situation; clear collaborative communication is crucial in all projects.
What tools and apps do you recommend for beginners in Project Management? How about for experts?
René: In my opinion, at any level of expertise you can utilize the Gantt Chart (Waterfall method) which offers a list and a sequence of tasks & milestones. If you’re using the agile approach, I recommend Backlog, which offers a list of jobs sorted by importance.
Besides these tools, in my team we create and consistently use one PowerPoint Slide deck per project for all meetings, workshops, etc. All aspects of a project are presented in one central place, thereby we don’t lose track of the project steps in too many presentations and miscellaneous files.
What advice would you give to those who are hesitant to take on managing projects?
Thank you for the interview and for sharing your top tips on Project Management, René.
Interested in other Top Tips from our colleagues? Read about our Top Tips for Efficiency from one of AEC’s Office Managers in a previous blogpost.