You’re surely wondering, can it get better? Many project managers think that there’s nothing to project planning and anyone can do it. Sure, if you’re a self-proclaimed guru or a master with thousand of projects behind. But let’s get real here.
Anyone can make a project plan. But is this plan truly fantastic or not makes all the difference in the world. As a project manager who really wants to have things going and make it awesome, be prepared to learn from mistakes. More importantly, you always have to be on the lookout to improve things – making every detail a little less ‘blah’ every single time.
If you find yourself doing your project planning always the same, then congratulations, you’ve reached stardom. But, that is hardly a case. Don’t get discouraged, as long as you’re doing it, you’re on the right track and will eventually get it right.
Let’s not call out names, we’re still far from perfect, roadblocks are here for a reason – to make us better. But we like to share our insights and what we’ve learned along the way and today we’d like to share those few golden tips that will turn your planning from blah to fantastic.
Isn’t that obvious right? Well, it gets better. A lot of us go straight into laying it out on our calendars and other project management tools. But, let’s take a breather. You need to make sure you plan it out good. And we mean the very small detail as possible. Be sure to spend as much time as you possibly can to plan every single task and lay it all out as you wish to see it unfold.
Create it in a step-by-step manner. This will point out possible roadblocks to you immediately, even before finalizing your plan. Schedule it all – resources, tasks, budget, milestones, everything and everyone that has any connection or relation to the project. This will allow you to better define outputs and dependencies between your team members – they will immediately know their responsibilities on the project, making them more confident and courageous at nailing it.
Here’s another tip – remember that ‘always improving’ mindset? Your first layout shouldn’t be your final version. Always go back to it, edit the thing until it looks crisp perfect.
Getting advice from your team and other managers will be a big bonus in the planning phase. It is your responsibility as a project manager to surround yourself with the finest people possible and put all your brains to it. Look at the possible gaps that you may have overlooked and work together to make that fantastic plan happen.
Be a communication facilitator – it’s the best thing you can do. You cannot go it alone. Your projects will always revolve around people, so it’s best not to neglect that factor and put it to good use. Two heads are always smarter than one.
All possible communication channels must be open and at disposal to everyone involved. Effective communication is what it’s all about and can be the most powerful deal maker or breaker. It’s an amazing way to brainstorm ideas and to deal with problems promptly.
We live in the age of technology, right? So why do it on a paper? There are awesome tools available at the click of the mouse to make it easy. If you really want to take it to a new level and want to see your project plans shine with that visionary flare, it’s time to make project management software your best friend and ally.
Project management software will make it easier for you to have a changeable, agile platform for your project and enable you to lay it all out in a timeline view. Creating those critical paths, making you more anticipative at problems and obstacles has never been easier. This, in turn, will make you and your team more able at nailing those large and heavy projects with ease. It’s highly recommended to try out project tools that use Gantt Charts, as those will prove most effective at planning your work.
Leveraging technology today is not an option anymore and it can separate you from being average to being fantastic. Yes, achieving that project planning ‘guru’ medal faster. Furthermore, it saves both time and money.
This one is often neglected and poorly done by many project managers and you shouldn’t look to be one of them. Getting lost along the way can become a serious issue for the execution and delivery of the entire project. Setting up milestones is one thing, but you need to define and establish your performance factors and how you’ll be tracking those. It’s a bit hard to do it once the things get on their way, so better do it in the planning phase.
The only thing that will show your project was successful are the terms of time, quality and costs. Determine the methods by which you’ll measure and track progress, deliverables, budget, time – basically everything you can measure according to your timeline and milestones. Do this often and communicate it as you go. It’s essential for the rest of the road, but more importantly, it will prove useful for other projects down the line.
Your stakeholders shouldn’t be idle as you and your team do the dirty work. It’s your responsibility as a project manager to keep them engaged throughout the project. This goes for the planning phase.
It is of utmost importance to establish a quality relationship with them and ensure your transparent in everything you do. Work with them on expectations, communication and ask them for an opinion when it comes to planning. It will make things easier and it will make much easier for you to establish all the factors of a successful plan and tracking methods.
And remember… Keep that positive attitude going! You may not be there yet, but you’re doing your best to make things happen.
Have a fantastic planning!
It’s so much easier to plan & estimate with a small team when I can see everyone & all projects at once.