So you’ve started a project. You’ve spent time, money, and effort to get it moving and handed it off to your team to bring your idea to reality. The first few weeks fly by. Things are moving forward and you’re pleased with the start. But after a few months progress has become stagnant, accountability seems vague, and the deadline you had in mind is about to come and go….Now you’ve got to dive back in, figure out where things left off, and see if you can resurrect your project(if it’s even still applicable in a marketplace that hasn’t stopped innovating). How many times has this happened to you?
Good news. You’re not the only one and there are plenty of tools out there that can help you and your team organize and manage projects so you remain focused on your goals and maintain a strong project velocity all the way to completion. They are Project Management Principles and they can save you time, money, and more than a few headaches.
Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to projects to achieve project requirements. There are a number of different project management methodologies out there. There’s traditional methods like Waterfall or Critical Path that focus on a sequential order of events. Then there’s Agile methods like Scrum or Kan Ban that utilize an iterative approach to project development and completion. Spend some time researching these and other methods. Depending on the nature of your project, you’ll likely find one more useful than another. There’s one method, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), that offers a comprehensive approach to project management and has guided many projects to success. It is encouraged by the Project Management Institute and can help ensure you keep your project on track.
The PMBOK method breaks projects down into 5 main categories:
The initiation phase is all about making sure the project is feasible given time, money, and other resource constraints. It’s best to conduct a feasibility study or develop a business case for the project. This will make sure you and your team are prepared for the business impact of the project and have what it takes to see the project through to completion.
If your confident the project is feasible, you’ll want to complete a Project Charter. This high level document will lay the framework to scope of the project, name the key stakeholders, and assign a project manager, among other things.
During the planning phase you will fully scope the work the project will require and establish the budget. You’ll break it down into tasks and establish a time line for completion. The planning phase is a great time to engage your project team and clearly assign roles for the project. You’ll also lay out the communication plan so everyone knows how often you’ll meet, when updates are expected, and who is making final decisions.
Now it’s time to get to work. With the tasks and timeline mapped out, your team can get busy making headway. In order to maintain project velocity, your team has to stay engaged. That meeting schedule you set in the planning phase is paying dividends now, making sure work is getting done and you are getting updated on project progress.
The monitoring phase runs in parallel with the execution phase. It’s all about tracking progress to make you you’ll meet deadlines and requirements while staying in budget and scope parameters. Focus on the numbers, but don’t forget about your team. A project team is a cross functional group of skilled individuals that are balancing your project with other daily work. Understanding the total workload and balancing that between the team members will ensure you don’t run into roadblocks.
Once the work is complete and your project has resulted in a great new business function, profit center, or systems improvement it’s time to transition it to the team that will manage it in the daily operation of your business. You’ll also want to do a thorough review of your project. Look for ways you can improve your project management processes to make your next project flow even smoother.
Whether you are a small business owner or manage a portfolio of brands, you’ll benefit from this organized approach to managing projects. We’ve used it to keep our teams engaged, our projects on track, and our executives focused on growth. When you implement consistent processes with solid instruction, you can leverage your teams’ abilities and direct your focus to growing your business. Take time to lay a firm project management foundation and you’ll discover all new ways to scale your operations and grow your business.
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