5 Tips for Managing A Big Project From Start To Finish
Are you new to project management or have little experience with big projects? If so, don't worry about it. Nearly every workplace professional faces big or small jobs at some point in their career. Even if you're not a certified Project Management Professional, you can still complete a big job on time and under budget. Each project has its unique challenges and a different objective. But with a basic blueprint, you can reduce indecision and stress. Here are a few project management tips you can use to help you conquer any complex project from start to finish.
Determine The Scope of Your Project
In the initial stage, you'll need to take some time to look at the big picture. Pull out a piece of paper or open a digital document and jot down your thoughts. For starters, ask yourself the following questions. What are the project objectives? What are the time limits for project completion? Will the project require any business tools? What are the possible risks that could delay the project? How many people are needed to complete the objectives? What is the budget for this project? Will the project require strategic technology planning?
As the answers become clear to you, jot them down. In the project initiation phase, think about every possible question that will affect the project. You'll want to start with big questions first and narrow them down to address every detail. Never underestimate this process or take it lightly. Completing this phase will help you lay the foundation and prepare you for the next step.
Create A Project Plan
Project plan creation involves several information-gathering steps before the final plan is ready. The first step is to set up a meeting with stakeholders and the project sponsors. During the meeting, stakeholders will lay out project expectations and discuss their needs with you. Be sure to write down those needs to help you set and prioritize project goals. Open and honest communication between all parties involved in your project is essential to establishing budgets, timelines, and realistic expectations. Identifying and calculating risks with the stakeholders will help ensure your project is completed on time and within the budget.
After the meeting, you'll have enough information to create the project plan. You can use a project plan template to make it easier to complete. Take the list you created and establish the project objectives. The objectives are simply the goals the project must achieve. When writing objectives, make sure each one is clear and measurable. Next, you'll need to list out the project deliverables. A deliverable is the expected result of each objective. These can be used internally for your team and externally for outside contractors. After defining your project deliverables, you can create the schedule for the project. Assess the risks and possible issues you may encounter and write out the necessary steps to prevent them from impacting your objectives. Once you've determined what steps you will take, present your project plan to the stakeholders for approval.
Assemble A Strong Team For Your Project
Every project you take on will require the talent and experience of other individuals. Technology and online tools can help your team be more productive and creative. When taking on big projects, you'll need to bring your A-Game, and you will need the A-Team to make that project successful. Look at the objectives you need to achieve and choose the most qualified individual to handle each particular job or task. Think of yourself as a coach in professional sports. You want the best available individual at each position, don't you? That may be a veteran with experience with big projects or a talented rookie who is motivated and undaunting. Who you choose to be a member of your team is entirely up to you, but be sure you don't tolerate any slackers.
After you've selected the most qualified individuals to become team members, unify them by giving the team a shared goal. A shared goal will create specific strategic actions for the group and increase focus. The purpose of a shared goal is to hold your team together and help them coordinate their efforts to benefit the project as a whole. Not only will a shared goal increase the likelihood that your team members will attain their individual goals, but the group goals as well. Take into account the number of resources you can allocate for each task and break the project into smaller chunks to give your team the best chance to succeed.
Position Yourself For Success
If you're serious about the success of your project, you will need someone to help you make progress towards your goal. Someone who is going to hold YOU accountable. Sure, you've got a team in place that's ready to go, but who's got your back? Having an accountability partner or a mentor is an effective strategy to ensure you're at your best. You can choose a friend, co-worker, or mentor with a well-known project management approach.
To find the best candidate, look for someone you can trust with all of the details of your project. Let them know what you need to do and what you're trying to achieve. Your accountability partner must be committed to listening to your process and monitoring your progress when deadlines approach. They need to be a source of encouragement when you meet deadlines and a drill sergeant when you don't. The perfect accountability partner won't let things slide, accept weak excuses, or baby you. Having someone with these traits in your corner will motivate you to meet your objectives on time and help you reach your goal.
Deliver Your Projects On-Time & Under Budget
Ensuring your project is completed on time is critical to ensuring that stakeholders are satisfied and happy with your project's results. To do this, you'll need to measure and document everything to stay on track to hit your objectives. Be sure each team member has a clear understanding of when project deadlines will occur and the expected results. Your job is to keep your team motivated and help them stay on task. Don't hesitate to check in with team members at any time. Keep your interactions positive, and always ask your team if they need help if they're having trouble with time-sensitive tasks or accomplishing their goals.
During the project, your pre-defined deliverables may not match the original estimates. Usually, this means that you're over budget or an objective needs more time for completion. In project management, this is called scope creep and is very common. To reduce the chances for scope creep to occur, make sure you're proactive and keep your stakeholders in the loop. Be transparent and honest with them to avoid problems later on, and to keep your trust levels high. Decide which changes are necessary and carry the highest priority. The last thing you need is for an adjustment to become a liability. Scope creeps can derail your project and cause your project to go over budget. So remain diligent and take action. Changes and adjustments can often have a positive effect on project results.
Now you know that big projects are not as troublesome to handle as you may have previously believed. With the knowledge you've gained today, you'll be able to fearlessly take on any project and get the results you desire.
About the Creator
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers business, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing.