It can happen to the best of us. You start a new project, you’re trying to get organized, trying to set up all the tasks that need to be accomplished and who needs to do what, and then you start to wonder if perhaps you’re in over your head. The idea of starting a new project is often exciting and it’s easy to be optimistic. Once you start getting to work, however, optimism often proves to be fleeting.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Even the best business leaders, project managers, and team coordinators find themselves overwhelmed from time to time. If you’re stressed about starting a project or feeling overwhelmed about an already in-progress project, take a deep breath. Things will get better if you apply yourself and things will likely turn out well if you plan properly.
Life is full of challenges, and every project, no matter how small, is a challenge. Fortunately, we’ve got six great tips that project managers can use to make sure their project is on track and on time.
Prepping for Your Project
David Allen’s GTD method is one of the best methodologies for executing projects. As we go over each step, always keep an eye on execution. Even the early stages of planning eventually resolve themselves in action and execution. When considering the “doing” parts at each stage, consider the following:
1. Understand the context- Ask yourself, what can I do right now?
2. Time availability: How much time do you have and what can you accomplish with that time, right now?
3. Energy availability: How much energy do you have? How much energy will the task take? Can you accomplish it?
4. Prioritize: What needs to be accomplished now? What needs to happen before the project can progress? What can be put off?
1. Remember That Team Efforts Are Team Efforts
Every project needs a project management process. Even if you’re completing the project by yourself, you should have some sort of process in mind. If you’re working with a team, however, it’s even more vital to have an excellent project management process in place. Without one, it’ll be difficult to coordinate, track, and review work.
Keep the team in mind and ask for their input when launching your project and setting up your management process. Don’t try to go it alone, don’t dictate edicts from the top down. Instead, source feedback. This will generate buy-in and valuable feedback.
2. Get All of the Materials Together in One Place
Every project has materials and specialized software that go into it. Emails, tasks on your checklist, research, online notes, projects are the sums of many parts. Make sure you take stock of these parts and organize them to the best of your ability. As you organize everything, you also need to start prioritizing.
Which deadlines are hard? Which tasks MUST be accomplished before other work can proceed? Prioritize them.
Will any of the tasks have cascading positive effects on other tasks and elements of the project?
Are there any people or tasks that might create bottlenecks if work falls behind?
Are there simple tasks that you can accomplish as “quick hits” to build momentum?
3. Lay Out Your System
So now you have all the tasks and items that make up your project in front of you. Next, you need to lay out a system that will help you accomplish each task. Start by plotting out the order that tasks must be accomplished in.
Often, you’ll find dependencies. Mock Up ABC needs to be completed before deliverable XYZ can be fleshed out. Other times, you’ll find that multiple inputs must be combined. “John, Jane, and Jennifer need to contribute this and that before we can move forward”.
The ultimate question is how do you get from point A to point Z as efficiently as possible? Projects can quickly be weighed down by inefficiency. However, by developing an efficient system, you can ensure that resources, including manpower, is going to where it’s most needed.
4. Build and Document a Structure
As the process starts to come together, you need to build a structure that will empower and support the process itself. This structure will center around standard operating procedures, official documentation and resources that team members can rely on.
There’s no need to rush into a structure, and in the early stages, you should be flexible. Find out what works. Find out what doesn’t work. Field feedback on the structure. If the team doesn’t like something, ask yourself if it’s necessary and if there’s a better alternative.
As the structure is developed, you should document as much as possible. This way, you can develop a reference source for team members and future projects. This will help increase efficiency and will provide support and consistency for the team. A documented structure will also help set expectations.
5. Review on the Regular
It doesn’t matter how great your process, documentation, team, and even the results are, there’s always room for improvement. You should and indeed must set up regular reviews to track progress and results. You should also look for ways to improve and increase efficiency.
Reviews don’t have to be stressful. They don’t have to be used to tear people down and to point out all the things that went or are going wrong. Sometimes a bit of tough love is necessary, but reviews can also be used to reset projects, to clear the air, and to refocus.
A fresh mind is a mind that’s ready to tackle the toughest challenges. So, use reviews to reset your mind and the minds on your team. Along the way, you can keep track of all the moving parts.
6. No Excuses, Execute
Eventually, push comes to shove. You can only plan and organize for so long. The time will come when you must execute. Hit the publish button, start mocking up that design concept, deliver the deliverables. Do what you need to do. No excuses. No “I’ll do that tomorrow”. After all, tomorrow never comes. But today? It’s already here.
Nuvro is a robust online project management tool that helps companies getting projects done professionally. With Nuvro you can gain control and peace of mind over all of your projects, tasks, team members, workload and everything else important to your company. In addition to the project, task and collaboration features found in most PM tools, Nuvro also provides a company dashboard, a team dashboard, team member performance reviews, secure document management, an internal alternative to email and more. Nuvro is perfect for busy teams looking to accomplish more. Learn More…