Project Planning

What Makes a SaaS Project Manager Successful?

Successful project manager

For some people, a successful SaaS project manager is the kind of manager that leads the team with an iron fist. The kind of manager that values results over people’s happiness, and of course, conducts a 6-hour meeting to determine how many points each task is worth in scrum. (<– this actually happened to me and it was horrifying)

However, for other people, a successful project manager is the type of person that doesn’t just set unrealistic deadlines and punishes you if you don’t deliver. A successful project manager enables employees to create more, without feeling pressured or stressed all the time.

A successful project manager has the difficult and sometimes unrealistic job to please the employees and the upper management at the same time.

Of course, different industries call for different types of managers. While you want your SaaS project management to over-communicate, you probably don’t expect the same thing from a construction project manager.

Because project management is such a broad topic, I decided to focus solely on SaaS project managers. I did this because it seems to be more relevant to our audience and also because we have the most experience with this type of management.

Without further ado, let’s deep digger and look at the top 5 qualities that make a project manager successful.

1. A successful project manager over-communicates

Most of the time, being a people-person and being able to communicate with employees, regardless of their department, helps a lot. Leading a team means that you have to be the one that steps up and breaks the silence when things get awkward in a group call or be the one that constantly reminds people to be more active in the Slack chats. Communication is the cornerstone of successful team collaboration so the project manager has to be the one enabling it.

Over-communication doesn’t resume at just talking to people more on Slack or doing more 1 on 1 meetings. A project manager has to master all forms of communication and use them accordingly. Writing a status report, updating their Toggl Plan timeline, delivering a verbal presentation, and illustrating a plan may all be part of “communication”, but each are appropriate at different times.

Over-communication doesn’t just keep employees in the loop, but it also brings a clearer overview of the project for the upper management. It’s important to set expectations correctly, and the best way to do that is by over-communicating.  

2. Successful project managers know that they don’t know everything

Okay, this is where egos get hurt. A project manager probably isn’t always right and it’s super important for managers to realize that.
When you lead a SaaS with a marketing team, a support team, a dev team and a testing team, and you come from a marketing background, you should probably listen to your more qualified colleagues from the technical departments.

It is certainly crucial for a project manager to have a minimum understanding of how each department works, but will never be able to fully master everything. If you try to do that, at the end of the day, you will be just a burned-out overachiever. Project managers should keep their egos aside, and listen to their competent team members; which brings me to my third point.

3. A successful project manager makes compromises

It can be so difficult for managers, and people for that matter, to compromise. To be able to say, “Okay, let’s do it your way”, although you think that you are right.

However, when you compromise and go with your team mates way, there are two things going through their head. They see that you take their input and ideas into consideration and it also projects an image of open-mindedness and trust to your colleagues.

Of course, at the end of the day, your skin is in the game and you are fully responsible for the quality of your product. So keep that in mind, make calculated compromises, and don’t lose focus.

4. A successful project manager sees the bigger picture

In order to lead and grow a good SaaS product, you always have to keep an eye on where the company and the industry are heading. You have to make choices that will inevitably affect the product in the long run. There are so many growth hacking techniques out there that only work short term and would likely get you penalized, or design decisions based on current fads that will most likely be over in a couple of months.

SaaS project managers need to understand how each and every department works in order to take calculated decisions that would resonate in the future of the product. They have to keep abreast with the latest technologies, SEO updates, user engaging techniques and anything that will affect the way users see the product.

5. A successful project manager triggers good performance

A person’s strengths aren’t always on display. Sometimes they require precise triggering to turn them on. Squeeze the right trigger, and a person will push himself harder and persevere in the face of resistance. Squeeze the wrong one, and the person may as well shut down.

Good managers know what motivates their colleagues, and know how to make people feel appreciated. Most of the time, recognition is the trigger that motivates people, and for most employees, the best recognition trigger is you; the project manager. Make sure you take a few minutes to talk to each team member and remind them of how important their work is to the company.

Make sure that every time you give constructive feedback to team members, you also look at the good in their work and don’t focus only on the negatives.

June 13, 2017