An effective project manager uses their experience and tools to implement innovative and effective strategies. Careful deployment of innovative project management (PM) strategies speeds up production times and leaves project teams feeling fresh and ready to tackle the next task on their plates.
The rigid nature of traditional PM, and the predictability it aims for, can be at odds with innovation. This, however, doesn’t mean project managers must always stick to the book—sometimes unique challenges are best overcome with agile thinking and flexibility.
The challenge is finding a strategy that allows for oversight without stifling creativity. The following are a few innovative ways businesses are re-imagining project management while encouraging creativity and ideation.
In this article...
Choosing and using the right project management methodology
Every project is unique and can benefit from a specific project management methodology to achieve the best results. Knowing what to do, in what order, and by when is only part of the puzzle. After settling on a project plan, plugging that plan into a process or framework will give project managers the support they need to succeed.
Savvy project managers understand that methodologies should be used as tools rather than constraints.
Choosing an appropriate project management methodology to implement before a project kicks off will keep things moving along and aligned with requirements after kick-off to produce a successful end product. Winging it and using a loose, barely-there style of management will most likely present a situation riddled with gaps, delays, and unhappy customers when the budget gets spent too soon and results in a subpar product.
Technical projects, like software development or engineering efforts, are often run in an agile framework. This gives them the ability to iteratively build and progress a series of smaller complicated pieces that require a continuous testing and improvement conveyor belt.
Projects like construction projects are better suited to a waterfall or stepped process when something needs to be completed before the next part can begin. As another example, a design project would also benefit from a waterfall methodology, such as a GUI or interface that needs to be designed and approved before functionality and features can be developed to utilize that digital space.
Hybrid approaches may be best for work that includes both technical and creative aspects, such as websites, online courses, or video games.
Build in time and scope to experiment and fail
Experimentation doesn’t always have a neat home in modern project management methodologies. Project management tends to focus on assigning very specific tasks and initiatives to meet metrics and KPIs that produce easily identifiable progress. Often this means that experimentation will fall by the wayside if time is not set aside for it.
Experimentation and ideation can be built into production schedules in a few simple ways:
- Building dedicated testing time into each project period as tasks
- Scheduling project-sharing sessions where teams can collaborate on the success of creative projects
- Noting and celebrating failures as well as wins and reviewing lessons learned
Simplify the process with the right PM tools
Robust project management tools allow many different project team members to enter data, track progress, and report on results.
Modern project management tools encourage smooth communication through clear processes, automations, and centralized updates. Project managers can have more control of task organization and process management than ever before, and team members can be empowered to take minute task management into their own hands.
Use tools to ease bottlenecks
Project management software can make it easy to spot where tasks are held up the most. With the right setup, you can see problems at a glance, and some software can track how long tasks sit in various statuses. By identifying where bottlenecks are, a project manager can make adjustments to eliminate roadblocks.
Test different tools with free trials
Most project management software and tools offer free trials so you can get a feel for the setup and see if it works for your team. Don’t be afraid to test a few or several—you may find your team needs more than one tool to get the job done.
Identify where tools can save time
There is a tool for every team. Sometimes multiple tools can integrate with your current infrastructure. Automating time-consuming tasks like planning, scheduling, tracking, and resource allocation frees up time for more important work and for more innovation.
Moreover, complex projects require close planning, tracking, and collaboration to be successful. Project management tools can provide the necessary functions to simplify these steps for more success.
Learn from past mistakes and successes
Once the product is out the door, the site is launched, or the update is implemented, a team should always take time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t.
Project managers should schedule and lead retrospective conversations with everyone involved to gather feedback through pointed, planned questions. From these conversations, you can gather a deep well of data and information to improve the project development cycle.
During these debriefs, cultivate a comfortable culture of candid honesty so team members and relevant stakeholders are able to give actionable feedback. Like a product review, those with strong feelings will want to be heard. If your team is not yet comfortable speaking up in a group setting, offer anonymous opportunities for feedback, like forms or digital whiteboards.
Find balance between accountability and creativity
Finding a happy balance in an organization’s project efforts can be difficult. While it’s important to keep projects in check with scope and budget restrictions, it’s just as important to encourage opportunities for innovation.
These strategies will help project managers find their footing and open avenues of creativity and accountability across teams while finding time in the development cycle for change and experimentation.If you’re thinking it’s time for a new project management software to make the most of these strategies, take a look at our top project management software picks.
monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.
Tackle complex projects with Wrike’s award-winning project management software. Break projects into simple steps, assign tasks to team members, and visualize progress with Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendars. Manage resource allocation and forecasting with software that’s easy to launch. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life. Streamline your practices, align your team, and ensure you hit deadlines and stay on budget.
ClickUp is one of the highest-rated project management tools today. Use Docs, Reminders, Goals, Calendars, Chat, scheduling, assigned comments, custom views, & more with this all-in-one project management tool.
Used by 800,000+ teams in companies like Airbnb, Google, and Uber, it brings all of your projects into a single app! Built for teams of all sizes and industries, Our fully customizable & proprietary features make it a must-have for anyone wanting to keep project management in one place.