The 16 Project Management Best Practices You Must Follow (2023)

Project management (PM) is a very important part of a modern business’s overall success. Competitiveness in a variety of markets is at an all-time high. Clients expect a team that’s going to consistently present deliverables in a fast pace, and at high standards of quality. 

In other words, you must assure that your project management best practices are up to par. If you’re achieving results faster and better than on previous projects, you’re on the right track. The core idea is to constantly focus on efficiency, so that the team’s performance becomes better and better.

Remember: it doesn’t matter how much you’re willing to invest in project management financially. If the management itself is done poorly, it’s just wasted money in the end. You need to keep your skills (and your team’s skills) updated all the time. 

You’ll also need an appropriate tool to maximize efficiency. Alvanda streamlines your processes, makes team management a breeze and keeps morale up by fulfilling the requirements of your entire hierarchical structure.

Here are 16 project management best practices that you can apply with Alvanda starting today.

Table of Contents

16 Project Management Best Practices for Your Business

  1. Hold a Kickoff Call
  2. Create a Project Brief
  3. Build the Project Plan
  4. Maintain Open Communication
  5. Gather Feedback
  6. Track Your Resources
  7. Manage Your Risks
  8. Monitor Scope Creep
  9. Assure Project Transparency
  10. Reject Unrealistic Expectations
  11. Expect Change Requests
  12. Document Your Work
  13. Understand the Limits
  14. Develop Leadership Skills
  15. Create Better Schedules
  16. Maintain Quality Standards
  17. Optimize Your Project Management

16 Project Management Best Practices for Your Business

It can be daunting to always keep up with the shifting nature of project management. But don’t worry, we’re here to lend a helping hand. These should be your focus points for at least 2023.

1. Hold a Kickoff Call

Kickoff meetings are a non-negotiable must for the beginning of a project. They involve all stakeholders, and each person’s primary role and objective for the project are defined. 

It’s the duty of the project managers to align the interests of all parties, and guarantee proper communication between them throughout the project.

2. Create a Project Brief

If you want success, you need to establish clarity. Everyone must understand what they’re working on, for what purpose, and what the deadline is. So, you create a project brief which will offer details about:

  • The scope and key objectives
  • Smaller goals throughout the lifecycle
  • Performance standards and limitations
  • What deliverables must be achieved
  • The length of the project
  • The most important checkpoints/milestones
  • How overall success is going to be measured

The brief is presented to all stakeholders (including the team). If nobody objects to the chosen direction, the project can proceed. Save yourself considerable headaches down the line by allocating sufficient time to this step!

3. Build the Project Plan

The brief is the outline of the project. The plan fleshes it out. Details and clarifications are given for every step and stage of the process, and the time & budget of the project are given careful consideration. Project workflows are built and agreed upon, and specific responsibilities are allocated.

Be mindful about the dependencies you’re putting in the plan. 1 step’s progress could be blocked because another one isn’t finished yet. 

Similarly, pay attention to the team’s workload. Burnout is a very easy way to lose project momentum and start making mistakes.

Work should also be logged. Time tracking will help monitor if the plan and goals are being respected as initially planned.

4. Maintain Open Communication

This is perhaps the PM best practice to keep in mind. Regardless of how well you’re doing everything else, or how knowledgeable the team is, it’ll all fail without communication.

Remember that internal and external communication are both equally important. Furthermore, they must be done well, in addition to just being done. 

Keep internal talks on only one platform (like Slack). They give you the option of creating rooms, groups and channels. Plan a monthly call with team leads and other relevant in-house parties to review progress.

Keep external talks to emails and recorded video calls only. This way, there’s always proof of what’s been discussed and agreed. If you need to physically meet stakeholders, you can all sign off on a summary of the key points.

5. Gather Feedback

There’s always room for improvement. Besides, encouraging others to forward their input on the matter will help them feel valued as team members. You can even implement a feedback loop, where important ideas are passed around before being approved.

Project managers also benefit from this because they can improve their own workflow by seeing what’s preferred. This refines their skill for future projects.

6. Track your Resources

Ultimately, resources will be the greatest bottleneck for the project. Time, capital, people, material goods; everything’s realistically finite most of the time. So, resource management is crucial. 

Do you have enough free people for the tasks? Are there enough financial resources left for those better ideas the team’s currently working on? Will the deadline be respected? Is the shipping of your needed goods going to be delayed?

Create an overview of all resources at your disposal, and track how and where they’re being used. Or, simply use Alvanda; a modern and powerful project management software that clearly shows your resources’ availability at all times.

7. Manage your Risks

Risk is unavoidable. Whatever you’re doing, there’s a chance it’ll go sideways. That’s why a project manager should always have contingencies in place (or even a whole team dedicated just to risk management; it depends on the project’s scale). 

If you can’t account for everything, then have a plan B ready to go for the most important aspects of the project. Carefully identify the weak points, so that you can understand clearly what you should prepare for.

If avoiding a risk isn’t doable 100%, do all that’s possible to lessen the negative impact. Always remain vigilant and monitor the likelihood of significant downsides.

8. Monitor Scope Creep

During the execution phase, the initial boundaries of the project can get out of control. It’s not a bad thing to maintain a level of fluidity, but keep a watchful eye on tasks that do not fit into the agreed scope. 

If the project’s scope expands beyond the available resources, all stakeholders will eventually be affected negatively by it. Deliverables will be late, while also going over budget. Assure that both the client(s) and the team understands that if the scope changes, then the plan must be updated.

9. Assure Project Transparency

This is also going to tie in with your workflow. If you’re looking for adaptability and go with the Agile methodology, transparency is especially important. Constant changes aren’t unlikely with Agile, and in order to react quickly, you must understand what’s going on outside of their work.

This is also one of the aspects that keep such teams on their feet, ready to adjust their course faster than if they were working with a model based on predictability (like Waterfall). 

Still, this doesn’t mean that you should seek changes for the sake of changes. Transparency is useful because it creates the idea of a complete whole that fits all individual parts. It helps team members understand why they’re doing something.

10. Reject Unrealistic Expectations

After you’ve signed the contract with a client, it’s going to be set in stone. If that said contract has requirements that realistically can’t be met, you and your team will have a very hard time. We understand that standing out from the competition is imperative, but delivering on your promises is even more important.

A good project manager will never agree with deadlines, features or other requests that just can’t be done as the client wants. Sometimes, you can feel forced to accept quicker completion or some deliverables you normally don’t do, but be very careful when doing so. 

There’s a probable chance that you’ll end up regretting the decision. Even if you pull it off as an organisation and deliver on what you’ve agreed, the cost is rarely worth it. 

Going on caffeine-sustained night shifts and pulling your hair out because you have to make something work fast isn’t healthy at all. It actually degrades productivity and demotivates your people!

11. Expect Change Requests

Knowing how to say “no” is one of the crucial project management best practices, but it should also be balanced out. Experienced project managers know that having a plan for change management is required. Even small changes can actually be intimidating, as they must work in tandem with everything else.

If you don’t have a trajectory ready for this scenario, scope creep can quickly catch you from behind and consume resources fast.

12. Document Your Work

There’s no point in starting from ground 0 with every new project. Keep a detailed log of both your failings and your successes with all current projects. Explain what should be done differently (or the same way) next time. 

This way, you’ll quickly get people on board and up to speed the next time you have to do it all over again. The log can also act as a knowledge database down the line, if issues are encountered.

13. Understand the Limits

While “the customer is always right”, you must explain to them why some things won’t be possible as they envision them. For example, if the only available team member for a complex development task is a junior, it would be to everyone’s deficit to allocate it to them.

If the alternative is delaying it, then delay it! When necessary, have a meeting with the client (or at least email them) to explain why the deliverable is going to be late. Quality first, while working with the available resources.

14. Develop Leadership Skills

The focus shouldn’t be on a project manager’s technical know-how alone. At the end of the day, they’re the liaison between a lot of people. Certifications are important, but learning about empathy, positive communication and leading by example are also a must.

An unmotivated team will never perform at peak capacity.

15. Create Better Schedules

Avoiding “bloated” or overly expedited estimates should be a priority. To schedule anything appropriately, you must understand what’s actually going on on the technical/execution side. Consult your team leads; use their input to draw a final version of the plan. 

If they tell you that something’s not possible, take that at face value; listen to them.

16. Maintain Quality Standards

Delivering exactly what was promised is paramount. Never sacrifice on the quality of the work just to have it done faster. Presenting a final result that respects specifications to the letter is more important than delivering late (up to a point).

You can maintain quality principles in the following ways:

  1. Break the project into stages. Agree on deliverables for every stage.
  2. Settle on QA criteria.
  3. Document the creation/work process.
  4. Decide the “baseline” quality. If the end result is at least that good, then it’s to be considered a success.
  5. Back up your quality claims with data and/or research.

Optimize Your Project Management

Having the required skills to successfully manage a project is just the first step. In practice, it can all get overwhelming fast. You’re involved in multiple sides of the project at once, and it’s harder to execute on all the 16 project management best practices.

That is, unless you use Alvanda. Alvanda streamlines your processes and makes all management aspects intuitive. You get pre-built templates and procedures. Management, organizing & tracking becomes a breeze. You’ll also have information distribution tools, and so much more.

Everything’s cloud-based, so it’s a perfect solution for both local and remote teams. Start optimizing your PM efforts today.