Ahhh…projects. We can’t operate a business without them. Some people might dread starting a new project. Others might show great enthusiasm that then wanes as the project meanders along. Avoid project dread or lost enthusiasm by properly planning for and executing your projects. These tips apply to larger projects—things that have multiple tasks and most likely multiple people involved. But if you keep these tips handy while planning and working on your project, it will help improve your results.
First, create an outline. When you outline your projects in advance it forces you to think of the aspects and needs of the project. Include in your outline any project challenges that you foresee and possible solutions. Share the outline in advance with everyone involved so that feedback can be obtained before the project is begun. This will avoid the project getting mired by too many opinions and mixed reviews after the project is underway.
Next, make a list of project requirements along with the responsibilities and tasks of everyone involved. Creating these lists and the outline mentioned above may seem a bit daunting and time-consuming but rest assured, this will save you time in the long run. It is extremely important to include the ultimate project goal from the beginning. Make sure that this sentence is communicated to everyone:
“Our project will be considered a success if____________________.”
You also need to identify a project leader. There needs to be one person who plays this key role. Their responsibilities include: explaining the project clearly to all participants; motivating and instructing—possibly even mentoring—members of the project team; getting everyone on board and in agreement about the project; and quickly acting on any obstacles that arise. This is an individual who is team oriented and diplomatic, with good leadership skills. Ideally they also have good communication skills. Which brings us to our next tip.
Throughout the entire project process, keep the lines of communication open. Accept input at any point and allow team members to suggest changes or improvements. Open and honest communication at all times is always the best way to go. If a suggestion is not going to be implemented, politely explain the reason.
Another tip is for you to document things. Keep a running timeline of events—as tasks are completed, make note of them and update the team as often as you deem appropriate. A weekly update on the project, for example, keeps people focused and motivated.
Reward Good Work
Is the project coming along nicely? It is a good idea to praise and/or reward the team halfway or two thirds of the way into the project if things are on track and going well. If they are not, you may need to regroup. Reconvene and rethink, then revise your project outline and task assignments. Any project can be salvaged if problems are addressed as soon as they arise.
A final and very helpful tip is to test and evaluate the project before you go big. Especially if this project affects a great number of people—if you are launching something new or introducing a new deliverable—you don’t want to end up with egg on your face. Sometimes the team or committee can be too close to project and miss a big flaw or glitch. Determine a way to test your project and perform an evaluation before implementation/launch. Possibly bring in some new people to review the project and comment, or have them work with/experience the new deliverable.
We hope you found this article helpful and will share more about projects in a future article.
Priscilla Speicher writes on behalf of HRdirect, one of the leading providers of new hire forms, labor law compliance solutions and attendance tracking forms.