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Despite the growing number of certified, highly-skilled project managers, there simply aren’t enough experienced project managers to go around. Even organizations that place a high priority on hiring and training top-notch project managers often need to place a relatively inexperienced employee at the helm of a project from time to time.

untrained project managers

If you’ve recently been given project management responsibilities for the first time, or are wondering if you’d be able to lead a project, you may not even know what questions to ask before you get started. Don’t let the uncertainty rattle your nerves, though—after all, every project manager has to start somewhere. You can’t even apply for a PMP certification until you’ve put in several years of work, including thousands of hours in an actual project management role, so don’t feel that you’re expected to know everything your first time around.

These project management tips for beginners can help you get your feet on the ground and start your project management career on a positive note.

#1. Understand the project life cycle

In order to succeed at any level, a new project manager needs to be familiar with the typical stages of an enterprise project and what should be happening during each stage. This is one of the essential project management skills in any organization, and will help you set expectations for yourself and for your team.

#2. Identify your stakeholders

Before you even start the project planning process, take the time to review your list of project stakeholders, and make sure that you understand the role each person should play in the project. This will help you create a more realistic project plan, and will show you who to ask for more information when you have questions.

#3. Get to know your project management tools

One of the most important tips for new project managers is to become familiar with the technological tools they’ll be using to manage their projects. In particular, be sure to get a feel for the planning and reporting features of your project management software. If you’re lucky, your organization is using a flexible, user-friendly project management solution like Clarizen, which will make it much easier for you to keep an eye on your tasks and metrics.

#4. Encourage collaboration across your entire team

New project managers can avoid many potential problems by simply encouraging their team members to collaborate and share information throughout the life cycle of the project. If you’re managing a team composed of employees and contractors spread across a wide geographical area, it can be easy for people to lose sight of the larger goal and focus simply on their piece of the overall project. If your project management software has online collaboration capabilities, ask your team members to use those tools to provide updates to the team and to ask for help when needed.

Todd Valentine
Todd is a Senior Product Manager at Clarizen. Todd has experience working in innovation, product development and PMO organizations within VMware’s CTO office. He has a master's in Information Systems and an MBA from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University.