Whether you are a professional project manager or an ‘accidental’ project manager – someone who finds themselves making schedules, dealing with budgets, and reporting success metrics to stakeholders – your priorities are going to be the same: Getting things done.
It’s no surprise that many feel that actually getting the important work done on time is a real challenge, teams large or small are nowadays often split across different geographical locations, having a multitude of deliverables and timelines, and a host of new responsibilities. These dynamics are exactly why the planning stage is such a key success factor for projects.
As you probably know, it all starts with an end-goal. A lack of clear direction is a common cause of project inefficiency. Project managers have a lot to gain by answering these questions:
[Strategy] What long-term path will make us reach our goals?
[Teamwork] How should my team members be involved in the planning process?
[Productivity] What are the top enablers or obstacles for project efficiency?
The strategy is essential to be able to have a sense of direction in your project and get solid support in the daily decision-making. What a strategy actually is – and what it’s not – is however highly individual and depends on your specific conditions. Think of it as the long-term road to reach goals. Should you adopt an Agile approach or plan Waterfall-style? Go digital or analog? How to secure enough funding? Staff with senior or junior team members? Educate to fill the gaps or learning by doing?
No-one knows the nuts and bolts of your project like your team members do. That is why it’s important to include them in the planning process which might be easier said than done. Key decisions can include your overall approach: should you arrange continuous all-hands planning meetings and/or delegate clear responsibilities with an equally clear mandate to take decisions and execute? The answer depends on what is the best fit for your team – and you personally. We strongly believe that practically every team benefits from adopting a Kanban methodology. It enables a high level of self-organization and provides a great way to visualize work.
To set the stage for optimal day-to-day productivity, you also need to do some homework. Why not make a SWOT-analysis of your team? What are the weaknesses and strengths of the team from a productivity standpoint? Can you already at the beginning identify hurdles and weak spots to make them easier to avoid? What tools do you need to do the job? Are there any internal or external threats to the plan, and should you therefore have a major strategy B ready in the backpocket? Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need a plan B, as your original plan should be ready to evolve anyway.
Want to learn more about kick-starting your project and getting things done? Check our new free ebook Project Manager’s Guide to Getting things Done. You can also sign up here for free to get your project up and running in five minute.
New ebook: The Project Manager’s Guide to Getting Things Done – How to set goals, organize teamwork and measure success.