10 Valuable Tips and Techniques
Last week we talked about the four elements you must attend to when managing a project: resources, timeline, scope, and budget. While you don’t necessarily have to manage each project as rigorously as many corporate teams do, you can benefit from some of the tips and techniques project managers use. Here are ten things they do to ensure successful completion of a project:
1. Return to the mission statement and objectives oftenEvery major project has a mission statement and coordinating objectives. These are to help remind you of the project’s importance, enabling you to focus your efforts as the team moves through critical tasks. You should return to these often and remind yourself (and your team) of what you’re trying to accomplish.2. Don’t schedule tasks longer than six weeksTasks that long will be difficult to manage and will most likely slow the team down. Tasks longer than six weeks can generally be broken into smaller tasks.3. Closely monitor critical tasksCritical tasks are those that absolutely must be completed in order for the project to be successful. You must continually monitor these tasks in order to ensure that the project will be completed according to your timeline.4. Ensure team members start tasks as quickly as possibleBecause you assign start dates to tasks you’ll often have team members who wait until those dates arrive before they start working on tasks. However, starting tasks as soon as possible is the best way to buy extra time and complete a project early. Closely manage your team members to remind them to start their tasks as quickly as possible.5. Pad your deadlinesIt’s important to give yourself amble time to complete tasks. Assigning unrealistic deadlines will only cause unnecessary stress and tension among team members. When possible, pad your deadlines with extra time.6. Hold regular team meetingsTo maintain team morale and keep everyone focused on the project’s importance, you should hold regular team meetings. This is where you talk about questions and concerns team members may have.7. Watch for obstaclesIf you’re not careful your project may run into an obstacle you haven’t planned for. You need to be on the lookout and prepare for obstacles with contingency plans.8. Determine milestonesDetermining milestones can help you mark your progress as you move through the project. They will enable you to assess your success.9. Have deliverables for every milestoneA good way to determine your milestones is to find points within the project that have deliverables, or tangible pieces to the project. For example, if you’re setting up the books for a new client, one deliverable may be the payroll.10. Meet to evaluate the project after it’s been completedThe best way to learn from a project is to meet at the completion to determine how successful the experience was. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you don’t take the time to acknowledge them. And you also can’t note the accomplishments if you don’t take the time to celebrate them. You’ll find that projects become easier the more you follow this process.
You don’t have to apply the principles of project management perfectly in order to enjoy the benefits. Pick and choose which tips and techniques feel comfortable to you, and see how they improve your internal processes. Your newfound efficiency and productivity may surprise you.