Sometimes it’s easy to feel that once your project schedule is available in Seavus Project Viewer that the hard part of project management is over.

Wrong! It’s just beginning. Most of your effort comes on keeping the team on track to deliver the tasks on the plan. However, having a good schedule is only the start of it. You can’t work to rule on schedules, because life and other priorities get in the way. If you need to change the schedule, you should do so, with the agreement of everyone involved. That’s what being flexible is all about.

In this article we’ll look at some of the ways you can be more flexible when managing your project.

Be Pragmatic With Processes

Project management is not just about following the processes as they are laid out, although that’s a mistake many less experienced project managers make. It’s more important to be pragmatic and adjust the approach you are using to best fit your project.

For example, you could streamline the way you report on the project if it’s only a small piece of work and a small, well-connected team. Is it really necessary to do a full-on status report weekly or would your team meetings do for a weekly update, coupled with a ‘proper’ status report once a month?

Don’t be afraid to suggest improvements where you know they will save you time or effort and still give a decent result. You don’t need to follow everything exactly the way it is set out in your textbook, as long as you have good reason for adapting the process and it’s for everyone’s benefit.

In other words, don’t change the process to make it easy when that’s not the best approach for the project or the business.

Choose Supportive Tools

The best project management tools help you achieve your goals without feeling like a burden. Lightweight tools like Primavera Reader or iMindQ help you communicate effectively with your project stakeholders without having a huge learning curve. They are also flexible tools, so if you need to edit your mindmap or update your schedule, it’s easy to do so.

Overly complicated software tools won’t support the needs of your project and can make tracking and monitoring harder to do if you aren’t used to using them. Choose products that support where you are now and how you work.

Ideally, you should look for project management tools that allow you to work flexibly too, so they’ll have web access and maybe an app to help keep you in touch with your team when you’re working away from the office.

Flex As You Go

Unless your Project Management Office (PMO) is very dictatorial about how you should be doing your work there is normally some opportunity to tweak your processes as you go. Think about how you can incorporate best practice and lessons learned as your project moves along, so that challenges identified early on aren’t repeated. For example, if your Agile team reports back a problem during a retrospective, you’ll want to make sure everyone is focused on addressing that for the next sprint. Then you aren’t making the same mistakes again.

Look for places where you can adopt a mentality of continuous improvement and encourage your team to point out things that could be tweaked and improved. Then act on them. If you don’t they’ll stop highlighting areas where improvements could be made as they won’t see anything happening as a result of their earlier feedback.

What works on this project might be less successful on another. Be flexible as you move onto other work and don’t assume that because something was a huge success with this client and team that it will work in the same way on the next initiative.

Remember to share your lessons learned with the PMO so that all the other project teams can benefit from what you have discovered.

Focus On The End Results & Benefits

We set out to deliver a project because we care about the end results and the benefits this project will enable us to get for the business. So keep that in mind: are you always doing the right thing when it comes to delivering value? Sometimes it matters less about how you get there than making sure you get there at all.

That doesn’t apply when it comes to ethics or people management, and sometimes you can’t take shortcuts with processes because it isn’t right to do so. But some of the time you can apply a great deal of professional judgement to whether you follow a prescribed approach or not.

These 4 tips will hopefully show you that you can be flexible as a project manager and that everyone benefits. There is definitely a place for structure, process and methodology, but once you know the rules, you can go out there and break them when it’s appropriate to do so!