Lincoln famously said, "Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I'll spend the first four sharpening the axe." Similarly, in projects too, a good start ensures that the project is carried out deftly and completed efficiently.
Read below to see how you can level up your project management skills.
For the success of any project, the first and foremost requirement is a good project plan. A good project plan is essential to avoid exceeded budgets, missed timelines, resource shrinkage, etc. If you are planning on a project, incorporate these 5 key elements in your project planning to achieve your project objectives smoothly and efficiently. For a free project plan template click below to download:
1. CLEAR GOALS & SCOPE
Before your project starts, it is necessary to articulate and chalk out the goals and scope of the project. Finalize the goals of the project and document the same so that everyone is on the same page and miscommunications are avoided. Avoid scope creep because it alters the remaining project execution. Any changes, added scope, expansion of goals at any point after the start of the project is known as scope creep. Scope creep results in roadblocks, shortage of budgets and alternated final deliverables. Proper documentation and control of the project’s goals and scope during the planning phase ensures that your project does not gets delayed or derailed.
Related: WTF is Scope Creep?
2. DETAILED PROJECT SCHEDULE
Next, create a list of deliverables with the estimated delivery date or completion date. This is known as the project schedule. The project schedule is to be prepared for the entire life cycle of the project. Breakdown the project into smaller milestones and decide on the completion date for these milestones. Set up charts to monitor and reflect the progress of the project, highlighting start and finish of the activities. Often it is difficult to schedule tasks weeks to months down the road, but utilizing a gantt chart is one of the best ways to perform long term planning. Communicate to the team and stake holders whenever these milestones are achieved, because time is money!
3. RESOURCE PLAN
Right from a project sponsor to a project manager and a time keeping staff, it is essential to decide on the resources required for the entire project. Also keep in mind that you do not need all the resources at the same time. Apart from project sponsor and the project manager, other staff will be mostly time based and contractual. Also, make a list of materials you will require for the project.
4. DEFINED ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Job allocation is an integral part of any project plan. The roles and responsibilities of each team member in the project team and the stakeholders must be clearly defined from the start. This increases accountability of the team. Delegation of authority must also be done properly so that approvals and decision during the project are quick. Use RACI charts to show hierarchical work breakdown, you can download a free template here:
Plan out the estimated cost of the project highlighting the expenditure in different phases of the project. As this costing is based on projections, it is advisable to keep a surplus amount in hand to cover for unpredictable expenses. The expenses must be tracked regularly through an expense tracker to analyze the consumption as the project progresses. One quick tip about quotes, get at least three! You never know if one company is offering add-ons and additional expenses you have no place for if you only go to one vendor.