How exciting! You just got the green light for your next big project. With proper planning and organizing, you will be able to deliver results that will leave your stakeholders impressed with your efficient execution and project management skills. Integrating the following five strategies to plan and organize a successful project will allow you to achieve positive outcomes and ensure your project is on track for success.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT: FIVE WAYS TO PLAN AND ORGANIZE A SUCCESSFUL PROJECT IN 2020
1. Create a roadmap to keep your project organized
At Providence, we create roadmaps for every project we manage and we recommend you do the same. Your roadmap is the big picture! It gives your team an overview of the entire project as it progresses. The project roadmap is not meant to be set in stone, but to be open to change so you can make updates as needed. It will help you identify constraints or flexible parts of the project. Although the contents of your roadmap may vary depending on the project, the framework of your roadmap may consist of:
This section of the roadmap should give your team a detailed and clear idea of what the project is all about. It should include background information of the client or business you will be collaborating with and contain their full contact details.
Include the brand’s logo, typography hierarchy and color palette. You will also want to define the brand’s tone and voice. To ensure there is consistency throughout the project, explain how the brand should look and feel.
The timeline is what your roadmap will mostly consist of. At Providence, we organize our timeline by detailing our efforts monthly. When planning your timeline, include key dates, milestones, campaign focus, action items, deliverables and anything else you see fit.
Include the goals you have for your accounts. Your goals should be:
Specific: Who? What? Where? Why? When?
Measurable: What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you use to measure the project’s success?
Attainable: How can the goal be accomplished?
Relevant: Are your goals aligned with your objective and scope of work?
Timely: By when do you plan to successfully achieve your goals?
Here is an example of a SMART Goal: In six months, our website will see an 8% increase in traffic by using calls-to-action on social media posts that target local business owners.
Incorporate an overview of the client’s budget and how the budget will be allocated. By doing so, you will become conscientious of their funds and better understand how to effectively manage it.
Identify your team and their responsibilities in the project. By defining every person’s role, you will be able to manage their workload and ensure everyone is on track.
Any business-specific information that people will need about your organization.
Create and structure your roadmap in a way that makes the most sense to you. The more details the better! You know you created a strong project roadmap when your team can easily refer to it in your absence. Creating a roadmap will safeguard a clear and organized pathway that will keep you and your team on the right track.
2. Utilize a project management software
Don’t rely solely on spreadsheets and to-do lists. An effective project management software can make a world of difference and streamline the details of your project.
And, not to exaggerate, but using a project management software might even save your life. For instance, have you ever experienced that feeling when you die a little inside because you forgot to do something really important that may possibly risk your job or relationship with a client? Project management tools are a lifesaver when it comes to preventing situations like important tasks falling through the cracks. And, depending on your organizing needs – there are a plethora of options to choose from!
Personally, I have seen the tool Asana help my team at Providence in more ways than one. If any of our team members are out sick, we can easily jump on their Asana to view and reassign their workload so that project tasks are completed on time.
Essentially, a project management software can help you see when and how strategies will be achieved in real time. You can monitor your budget, delegate tasks to your team, set deadlines and track their time spent on each task. Investing in an online software with valuable tools will make managing your team and projects a breeze.
3. Plan and prepare for risks
If you like surprises, I guarantee you won’t like this one. To safeguard your project’s success, you need to consider that a crisis or urgent need can strike at any moment. Poor planning will lead to project failure. The best thing you can do is prepare for the unexpected by factoring risks into your plan. Identify potential threats and monitor risks throughout the project’s timeframe. You’ll thank your past self for it!
As our director of communications, Rachel Glauser, always says, “Whether it’s a threat to an organization, brand or threat to personal character, having a plan before crises hit, helps put you in the driver’s seat and allows you to better mitigate any damage.”
Planning has helped our team prepare for numerous potential problems, such as budget changes, timeline delays and even a global pandemic. Because our team was prepared to respond to risks, we were able to pivot and ensure our project goals remained achievable.
4. Schedule regular team meetings
Please note, I am not talking about the meetings that could have been an email here…
In your team meetings, you need to touch base and communicate with your team and stakeholders on the project’s status. Whether it is bi-weekly or monthly, keep meetings consistent and productive. This way your team stays in the loop!
Make sure to encourage open communication for you and your team to voice concerns and celebrate milestones. When project goals are achieved, they should always be celebrated! It relieves stress, boosts self-confidence and company morale. At our office, nothing beats the satisfaction of ringing the infamous cow bell after a successful project proposal.
But, before you can celebrate milestones, you need to regularly follow up with your team on the project’s progress. You can do this by sending a follow-up email (yes, now you can send it.) highlighting action items and key decisions that were made after each meeting.
5. Monitor progress
As your team completes their tasks, review your roadmap and project plan to ensure everyone and the project is on track. Build timely performance reports to summarize data, highlighting the projects status and whether it is on track or at risk. I would encourage including the status of the budget and whether the project is performing in support or against the budget.
As a team member, I appreciate when a project manager effectively monitors our team’s progress on a project. It keeps me focused and engaged every step of the way! Plus, it helps keep the whole team accountable.
By monitoring the progress of your project, you can be on top of deadlines that may need to be extended before it becomes past due. You might also discover the workload of a team member has been underestimated and they need extra assistance. I know I am always grateful when a project manager asks how they can help before there is ever a chance of becoming overwhelmed with tasks.
It can be easy to forget and overlook important aspects of your overall project, so the sooner you start organizing your project, the better progress and success you will have. But, keep in mind that there is so much more to managing a project aside from roadmaps and budgets. It’s a process that you will be continuously learning from. In your experience, what other effective tips or techniques have you learned and used to keep your projects organized? Share what has worked for you in the comment section!