The key to successful results most often lie in the planning. Creating a plan is the first thing you should do before beginning any project. Too often people forego making adequate plans before implementing their solutions. This can cost time and money from the problems that arrive from this method. Following are some steps to take when planning your next project.
The first thing to do is define clear goals and figure out how you are going to govern project tasks. Many times these parameters are already identified before the project begins. Identify the stakeholders. This can be a client, sponsor or whoever has a major interest in the project. Create a list of priorities that will satisfy the stakeholder’s needs. This involves research and input from your stakeholders.
This is the most difficult part of planning, once you have finished this phase you can move on to deliverables.
What are deliverables? Deliverables are the things that the project needs to deliver. For a consult this could be reports containing information on ROI. For a wholesale grocer this could mean a ton of potatoes. Specify when and how each item will be delivered.
Add deliverables to your project plan with an estimated delivery date. You can adjust this date later on when you are scheduling.
Now you have to make a list of all the tasks that need to be done for each deliverable. For each task specify a couple things:
- How many hours/days it will take to complete
- The resources you need to complete the task
Once you have these two things in order you can figure out when you the work for each deliverable can be done. This will give you a more precise delivery date. Update this on your project schedule. There are many different free and proprietary software tools that can be used to manage your schedule such as Base Builders or Microsoft Project. You can do some research and find one that’s best for you.
You will need to make supporting plans to produce your deliverables. These plans will carry out all the work needed to finish your project. Below are some areas that require planning to support your project.
identify any people you will be appointing to manage or take lead positions. This is where you gather your core team, and figure out if you need any outside associates. Create specific roles for everyone that is working on the project. Detail any start dates, deadlines and expectations during when making plans for human resources.
Create a document showing everyone that needs to be informed about the project, and any details that they need to be privy of. Is this information confidential? Define access, privileges and channels of communication as they pertain to the project. Emails and cloud solutions are two components involved in the communications plan.
This is a very important part of managing any project. Identify any risks that you may run into. This is the time to prepare for common pitfalls and mistakes. People that overlook this step are usually sorry that they did. Keep a simple log of all the risks that you have identified. Review this log on a regular basis and add new entries as they pop up.