We can all handle the day-to-day tasks we have to do, but what about the special jobs or larger projects in our lives? Maybe the boss asks you to oversee a really important task at work. Or maybe you’re facing a huge personal project like planning an entire wedding, a home renovation or a family vacation.
Whether it’s for home or work, these project management strategies can help you prioritise and stay on top of your tasks.
To succeed, your project needs five key things:
Before you start working on your project, get an agreement with your key person (this can be your boss or someone else invested in the success of your project) on exactly what the project is to achieve. Ask them what goals are essential? Essentials goals are outcomes that will determine whether the project is a failure or a success.
Your next step is clarify the goals that are just nice to have. These are the non-essential but value-adding goals that you can achieve while working on your project. They are the cream on top.
The best way to sink your project is to assume everything will go exactly to plan. There will always be something that will go wrong along the way, whether its people that aren’t available, supplies running late or deadlines getting pushed back.
Ultimately, things will take longer than expected. To plan for inevitable delays and interruptions, make a list of all the risks in your project and think about how you’ll manage them if they happen.
Money is involved in everything we do. You can’t get away from it, but you can plan for it. Make sure your project has a clear budget so you can avoid any nasty surprises along the way.
Monitoring your costs is important for a successful project. Remember to track how much you spend as you go so you are always in control of your funds during every stage of your project. Don’t be the project manager who delivers nothing because the cash ran out.
Your project might be a work goal or a personal goal. Either way, it’ll go better with some help. A big part of project management is working with a group of people towards a common goal. This can be spearheading a large project at work, or it can be planning a major event with friends or family. Either way, the task of organising what other people do makes you the team manager.
To get the best from others, you have to coordinate their work and care for them as individuals. Motivating your team to stay on-track is an important job and as the team manager, your role is to support your team members in the ways that they need, whether it’s helping them prioritise their tasks, providing them with moral support or rousing them with a pick-me-up coffee. As the team manager, your role can change from cheerleader, coach or confidant, depending on the person and the project.
Good projects that are running well can still fail because of poor communication. At the beginning of the project, make a list of people who need to know what is happening. This list will look different depending on if it’s a personal or work project. For work projects, they are likely to consist of team members, other staff and people outside the organisation.
Once you have your list, note down what each person will need to know and when. This way, you have created a communication timeline to ensure that each person is involved and updated when they need to be.
Great communication and regular project updates will show others that your project is making steady progress and achieving results.
Your project isn’t just business-as-usual. You need to get it done on top of a busy life. Achieving your project will give you real feeling of pride and make you look good to the boss, your partner, or both! Either way, these five key project management strategies will get your project going right, reduce your stress and maximise your success.
Andrew Monaghan is a corporate trainer and professional speaker. He trains in project management, presentation skills, confidence and assertiveness in the workplace. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out Andrew’s upcoming Project Management Fundamentals, Building Your Self Esteem and Assertiveness Skills and Powerful Presentation Skills short courses at the CAE.