Every professional project, no matter the industry or personnel involved, is bound to have many aspects and require carefully coordinated efforts. Without a competent project manager to provide centralized oversight and keep the interworking parts running smoothly, even seemingly simple jobs can quickly go awry. So project managers have an important job cut out for them. Not only must they be the glue that holds together the often-complex components of the work, they must also take ultimate responsibility for the failure or success of the endeavor.
But many inexperienced PMs, in their eagerness to provide direction to their teams, overlook the importance of giving their own job a focused direction. Effective project management means having a thorough, comprehensive plan. Here’s what to keep in mind when developing one:
Invest Enough Time
First and foremost, it is essential to give yourself enough time to plan. Timing is crucial to every project from how long each stage will take and allowing for delays. By diving into the work without a clear idea of what you will be up against, you’ll be certain to waste company resources and provoke frustration from all corners of your project, not only will this cause frustration but the workers involved will become less motivated. Remember, it takes time to develop a successful plan, so don’t handicap yourself with too much haste at the outset. Create a roadmap of activities and schedule in potential set back and set a point at where to evaluate the progress against time, once you have managed to plan this stage accurately the future will be brighter.
Communication is Key
This timeless advice is particularly relevant in project management. Your team needs to work together, without interfering with or undermining each other’s efforts. The best way to ensure they can is by keeping communication channels constantly open and trying to identify areas where team members might be making unfounded assumptions. Plan for regular meetings and facilitate informal talks frequently. When thinking about communication in your plan, make sure you take into consider your own ability to lead, what are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within communication; the SWOT analysis is a useful tool to use in the communication process. Not only will the SWOT analysis help drive your project forward but you will learn how your workers can improve further on a project, optimising them to perform better.
But communication also dictates that everyone involved in the project has an understanding of the big picture. After putting together your project management plan, distribute it in a simple form to your team. Visually oriented plans are especially effective, and creative options (like creating an infographic outline for the project) can clarify and reinforce memory while also saving time.
Know Your Highs and Lows: Budgeting Within Your Plan
Developing a successful plan is only possible if you can first define what success means. One of the first things to do is sit down and crunch those numbers to determine your minimum goals for success and maximum allowable expenses. Knowing your limits makes planning a whole lot easier. With budgeting in mind you project plan will be under control and calculated for. Projects incur extra costs every now and again and knowing in advance if you have the budget for this is important. Plan to accommodate all costs on a project by calculating the risks.
When drafting schedules and timelines, remember that problems are bound to arise. Do not cut things so close that minor setbacks become major disasters down the line. Also, when it comes to hiring contractors and scheduling meetings with inspectors and other outside consultants throughout the project, contact them as early as possible to give a rough timeframe. Then, solidify plans with them several days in advance, when things have become more certain. Creating a focussed schedule allows not only time for inspection on projects but feedback to amend areas in need of recovery.
Agree on In-Process Goals
Auditing is a crucial part to projects; plan to construct an audit checklist of what needs to be accounted for. Do not expect to get everything finished by the ultimate deadline, without setting in-process goals to help the project proceed efficiently. Make sure everyone is aware of the goals, and be strict with intermediate deadlines. If your goal is to make sure a construction project is safe for example, plan to check everything on site, are the pathways clear, is their signage around, is chemicals contained all of these are important. Not be aware of what is happening on site is a danger hazard in itself. Plan a goal to make sure your project is adhering to all safety regulations.
Know the Local Codes
For some industries (like construction) planning is largely a function of ensuring the project agrees with local legal standards. If you’ll need any municipal approval or inspections, schedule them well in advance and make them priorities. You may also want to check government regulations and standards that may affect your project, plan to contact the right people in the right department and question every detail you feel insecure about. At the end of the day, you would not want to plan and build a project to turn around and be told it must come straight back down because it is not in line with building regulations. If you have worked a Careers in Construction and happened to manage a construction project then you know the reasons for doing this.
It is important to remember that even the most carefully laid plans become ineffective if they are overly rigid. Scheduling isn’t the only aspect of the job influenced by unexpected delays. Project managers have to think on their feet, revising their plans to meet the unique demands of the work.
So the next time you find yourself in the important role of Project Manager, make a plan, use training tracking software, and stick to it as best you can. But don’t forget that a plan is just an outline to provide goals, instruction, and direction. When it comes to the practical reality of getting the job done, you and your team will have to be adaptable.