Being given a project can be Exciting, Creative and Encouraging.
It may make you feel that you are finally entrusted to fulfil such a goal for the business, which in turn may bring in more clients, finances and credibility.
Although for many, Project Management sounds good in both theory and in title, the real difficulty as many say, may result in making sure that the project is efficient, effective and delivered in a timely manner.
Everything needed regarding Project Management will be highlighted in this briefing guide.
Before you start the project, you need to know what you are expected to do.
If you do not know what you are doing, chances are you will not be able to deliver to the best of your ability in an efficient manner.
In order to gain knowledge, define the project and dispose of any confusion, make sure to ask, ask, ask!
Ask a lot of Questions and find out all that is expected from you in regards to the project. Find out your budget, Find out which resources are available to you and which you will need to outsource.
What would you like me to do?
What is the expected time frame?
How much is the budget I am entrusted with?
Would you like me to do this independently or as a team?
Is it possible for me to do a mini pilot before the roll out?
Is it okay for me to check in with you every week for advice?
Find out who is willing to support you or if it is you doing everything completely by yourself. These will be very useful especially in the planning stage and will save you a lot of time. Do not be ashamed to ask questions. ASK, ASK, ASK. As cliché as it sounds If you do not ask, you will not know!
Although you may have asked questions regarding the project, the next stage is to clarify. Questions should be the first stage and then clarification Clarification ensures that you understand the answers to the questions you have asked prior.
Clarify the project, these simple phrases will further help you in the clarification stage
From my understanding what is the aim of the project is to
Correct me if I am wrong, you would like me to…
Just to ensure I understand the budget can be
In a nutshell I should?
The Question as well as the Clarification Stage acts as a skeleton, with how the project will come into fruition, with how to combat issues, with setting plan b, the basic Skeletal feature should later turn into a plan and be fleshed out.
Having an unclear description or information on the project can be a driving force as to why you do not do as well with your project.
Dummy proof your projects definition, purpose and aim. By dummy proof, this means that everything should be simple and to the point, in a way that someone who has no idea of the field/ career should be able to understand.
Before you move on to the next stage, Ask Yourself -
If someone with no previous experience in the relevant particular field reads it, will they be able to understand it?
If so, you are on the right track.
If not, try and simplify it further
Most projects involve internal and external stakeholders (anyone affected by the project directly / indirectly).
If you are working with other people whether it is alongside them, for them or even on behalf of them, it is important to
Find out what their needs and expectations are.
What are their time frames, budget, availability?
[Their time frame may indirectly or directly affect your time frame or even the end product frame of the project]
What are they offering you?
Do their input conflict with others stakeholders you are working with etc.
Is there a conflict of Interest?
Communication is very important. It is the stakeholders that will receive the benefit from the project so find out how you can be of use to them. What can they gain from connecting/networking with you? It's a give and take process.
Set both realistic long term and short-term goals.
The short term goals should be stepping stones to your long term goals.
In order to make sure the goals and time frame you have given yourself is adequately measurable, make sure to make them realistic.
If you are working with a team regarding the project make sure to communicate this to your team members verbally and in writing so that you have the same goals. Not only will you then have the same goal to work towards, you then have the responsibility to hold each other accountable and encourage one another,
Using a SMART Plan may be useful in this instance
Specific - Having a detailed and specific goal with numbers and deadlines E.g. Not I want to make more money. More so By next year, I want to make a 200 profit each week.
Measurable - Your goal should be quantifiable so that you can track the success/ progress. Using words like more is not good enough, specify how much more
Attainable - Your goal is reachable and realistic and you have the means/ resources to achieve it. The goal may be challenging but should be possible to achieve.
Relevant/ Realistic - Be honest with yourself, is this what you and your team are capable of doing? Bear in mind the possible challenges you may face when thinking of this. Your goal aligns with your mission
Time - Your goal must have a deadline, words like soon, some day are not good enough. You need words like in 2 weeks, in a month, in a year.
Not only do you set a goal, you clarify how to get and produce the results. Again, estimate the due dates realistically to have something to work towards.
If you do not achieve it before then, do not give up. Celebrate the small steps you were able to achieve and change the goals to make it more realistic. Perhaps each week set a track so you know what has been completed and what has not. This may mean that the deadline or the long term goal may actually alter.
Congratulate yourself for trying and setting new ones where possible, do not settle as there is always room for improvement...
If you achieve your goals too soon, find out if anything can be altered, look through to see if any mistakes were made or anything was missed. If not, congratulate yourself.
BREAK DOWN TASKS
Sometimes as human beings we either
Rather do tasks ourselves to avoid mistakes
Take on more than we can bear
Get lazy and allow others to do work for us
We may not like to ask for help
Remember that everyone needs help. Nobody can do it all which is why if given a project to handle as a team, handle it as a team!
The best way to do so is to look at everyone's strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. From there, Break down all tasks needed. Map them and link them to team members that are suited best to that task. This does not mean to say that the roles may not overlap and you cannot assist someone else with their tasks.
Some people take on new tasks as a means of self development which is great. When it comes to projects, especially for large companies, think of the risk and issue of giving someone something they haven't done before. Think to yourself, if this person makes a mistake doing this would the risk be high that it will majorly affect the goal, if so, that may not be the time to try something new. It is all about looking at the facts and the potential risk and issue.
When you have a task, do not be afraid to ask for help. Even if it is a project that has been given to you solely as opposed to the team. The underlying aim is for you to fulfil the goal efficiently and in a timely manner. Anything that will disrupt the goal should be discussed with your supervisor, boss, team members … the relevant body. As I said earlier, if you do not ask, you will not receive.
Now that you have expressed the task to yourself/ your team. It is great to have it written on some sort of software.
Great ones include (but are not subject to…)
Softwares like this, gives all team members access and can send notifications, mentions, reminders etc, it is basically an online admin. These things are very useful especially when having remote meetings with the team.
When you achieve a short term or a long term goal, make sure to congratulate yourself. Likewise when working with a team, it increases the moral and allows them to perform even better.
If you achieve a goal too soon, it could be that the time frame was not realistic enough, or you may need to look through again to make sure that mistakes were not made and nothing important was missed. If nothing was missed and the time frame as realistic then definitely treat yourself that is a great accomplishment.
After Asking Questions, Then Clarifying, Risk Assessment should take place next.
When Tackling Risk Assessments, some of the questions that should be asked are:
What could go wrong?
Solutions to how to deal with what could go wrong?
How can you limit the impact from the thing going wrong?
With Risk Assessments, the aim is to identify hazards and risks that could cause some sort of harm. Evaluating a potential risk as well as how much the impact would be should it happen will help in terms of decision making, what to do and what to not do. Is the risk worth the potential harm etc.
The Step by Step Risk Assessment goes as follows:
Research and Identify anything that may cause harm (hazard)
Decide who may be harmed (people, business, goal) and also how they may be harmed.
Assess the risk, is it a high risk or a low risk and what attention could you take to mitigate it (any preventive measures)
Record your findings, you may want to run a pilot test prior to that to ensure that the risk will not massively affect the goal.
Always Review the assessment, more risks make appear or even disappear
Assess your project, this can be monthly, weekly, see what you have achieved:
What needs to be done
Do you need extra money?
Do you need to delegate new tasks?
Do you need extra help or advice?
Do you need to speak to the stakeholders again?
Having general assessment meetings with the team members individually might be useful in this instance. Especially for those who are pulling their weight. Try and find out whether they need help with their tasks, whether they would prefer a different task or if they just have any ideas or issues to share.
If there is a big issue, try and deal with an issue per session depending on the time limit. Also try not to bring up the same issue you dealt with last session to the next session unless the team member in question is still slacking.
Feedback is a very vital way to evaluate and analyse progress whilst opening room for improvement and development. Always review the project given before you deliver.
Ask yourself these Questions
Did you fulfil the goal?
Did the project work or not?
What were your findings
This way you can know what to avoid next time.
The only way you can improve is through Feedback and review.
If you are up for a challenge, ask the stakeholders on how you could have performed better with the finished product.
Never forget to celebrate at each step of the way.
Many people only celebrate at the end of the project if it goes well.
Celebrating after each task set that is complete may be another way to motivate one to do better.
According to psychology positive reinforcement (rewards, be it gift compliment, celebration) equated to repeated behaviour.