Key to a Successful Project
The key to a successful project is using the information to guide and encourage people’s performance. With the right project management software, it’s easier and more affordable to handle information in one place. Besides, it helps with better planning, tracking, and faster closure.
Table of Contents
- What is a project?
- How to develop a project plan like a Pro?
- Identifying Project Audiences
- Defining the Project Scope
- What is a Project Goal?
- Assigning Roles and Responsible
- What is a project milestone?
- What are project deliverables?
- How to develop your project schedule?
- Successful Budget Planning for a Project
- How to prepare a risk-management plan?
- Why do you need a communication plan?
A project is a temporary task or assignment to produce a unique product, service, or result. Hence, successful organizations create projects to produce these results in established time frames with the right resources assigned.
Whether it’s large or small, a project always has a specific scope, time frame with start and end date, and required resources.
Think of Project scope as the (head), most critical information for any project. It involves both people who requested the project and the project team. They have to agree with all terms in the scope requirement before the actual work begins. The scope statement includes justification, objectives, features & functions, Acceptance criteria, Constraints, and assumptions.
Along with the project scope, keep in mind that any project always has deadlines. To meet these deadlines, you need to know how much work and how long the project entails. So the best way forward is to break down your project into its component deliverables. This process is called decomposition. That will put you in a better position to determine the sequence and duration of each activity. As a result, you can schedule and estimate the amount of time you need for any project.
After that, is planning your resources. It includes the amount of necessary qualified people to involve, funds, and other resources. Some companies track every resource while others don’t formally plan or track project resources. However, even if your company doesn’t require planning and tracking, doing so is the key to your project’s success.
Developing a project plan takes deep thinking and research to identify all crucial information in your project plan. Managers start with brainstorming to collect as much information as they can. Then, describe in detail all the work required.
Well, there is no doubt, describing in detail your project work helps accomplish tasks faster and efficiently. Besides, you are more likely to complete the project on time and within budget.
With all those information at hand, you can decompose the project into the deliverables necessary to produce the result. This way, you are more likely to identify all the work you need to accomplish the project work.
There are two guidelines to take into consideration while decomposing your project. One is a gap analysis, and the second one is overlapping.
Gap analysis helps to identify all components of the deliverable you are decomposing. But in this exercise, you should not allow any gaps. As well, to watch out for the sub-product. Avoid including the same sub-product in your decomposition of two or more different deliverables.
Below are the key elements that you need to know while developing your project plan.
Each element is as crucial as the others that affect your project from initiating to closure.
Let’s walk through each element to help you create a successful project plan. You can then impress your boss tomorrow.
The first process of your project is to identify your project audiences. At first, when a project is assigned, you might think that you have everyone involved. Well, without planning your audience accurately, you risk compromising the project.
The risk is even greater if the key people or groups are not involved promptly. It may affect your goals and your approach to the project. Hence, you should begin your project by identifying those key people who will play each role of the project. Those key people are any person or group that supports, is affected by, or is interested in your project. They can be internal or external audiences.
One of the best ways to identifying your project audience is by developing an audience list. This list consists of all the names that occur to you. During your brainstorming session, you can add and subtract these names to your audience list until you get to a dead-end.
Tips: To minimize the risk of overlooking some of your key people, break down your audience list into categories. Perhaps, into a department or small groups rather than collecting every name in your organization. For example, separate the list into two categories like internal and external. For your internal category list, break it down into departments. As for the external list, you can group them by customers, partners, vendors/suppliers, and so forth.
Your project scope is about documenting a list of goals, deliverables, tasks, costs, and timeframes. This document is called a scope statement. A scope statement explains your project boundaries, roles, and responsibilities of each team member. It also consists of how completed work is verified and approved.
Scope statement helps stakeholders understand what the project entails. Furthermore, it provides a clear picture to managers to assign tasks and plan a budget appropriately. At the same time, your support team member stays focus on the objectives.
A project goal refers directly to an achievement based on a result set from the beginning of the project. For example, a project that entails having 300 videos by the 25th of the month, then your goal is to have 300 videos ready by this date. Achieving this goal on time requires accurate planning.
But, how to do that? Using the SMART technique is one of the best ways for accurate planning. It helps to meet these results at a defined time frame.
Here is a definition of SMART:
- Specific means defining your objectives clearly in detail with no room for misinterpretation.
- Measurable is to determine whether you’ve met all project objectives.
- Aggressive is a set of challenges that encourage people to go over and above their comfort
- Realistic is a set of work objectives the team believes it can achieve.
- Time sensitive is the end date for delivery.
Though SMART is a powerful technique, it is vital to discuss the project results with all involved personnel. Clarify how the results benefit both the organization’s clients and support future growth.
Encourage people to think about their participation. A motivated team is the best contribution after all.
The project team includes people with different skill sets working in separate departments of your organizations. Those people usually work on several other tasks at the same time. If your project has a tight deadline, you and your team members must agree on a process to work with each other. Bear in mind, assigning individual roles and responsibilities minimize wasted time and mistakes.
Responsibility relates to the commitment to achieve specific results, whereas a project role is more like a job type. But the difference is that roles are temporary. For example, a project manager, project sponsor, or training coordinator is considered a project role. It’s a set of required skills and responsibilities together.
Start by writing a list of people or skills required to achieve your project goal. Then, analyze your project plan and each task individually. Set up a meeting to discuss each role and responsibility. Communicating with your team member during this task is vital. It will help you make an accurate decision while assigning roles and responsibilities efficiently.
A project milestone is like a checkpoint for each event or task of your project life. It marks the start or end of one or more events and demonstrates the progress of your project plan.
Milestones keep you and your team motivated while showing forward progress. It keeps you on track. Furthermore, you can monitor deadlines, identify critical dates and potential bottlenecks.
Overall, milestones don’t consume time or resources. Think of them as signposts to keep things moving in the right direction to avoid time wasted.
For your team to work efficiently to meet the desired deadline, you have to break down the project into smaller chunks. Then you can set a delivery time and goal for each piece. This activity is called project deliverables.
Once you have clearly defined these deliverables, your project becomes easier to manage. You can track each step throughout its cycle efficiently. On the other hand, your team can work independently to move the project towards the overall goal.
Let’s take an example of a project that entails developing a new website. The deliverables are Customer requirement specification, web design proposal, web content, end-user training session, and then finished website. However, the more you break down the project, the more chances of having a successful project.
Develop a project schedule to meet expectations with the least amount of risk. You are likely to perform such an activity after creating a work breakdown structure (WBS).
Nevertheless, project schedules are crucial to the creation of a project plan. It guides the project team throughout the execution phase of the project.
- Identify predecessors for all activities
- Determine resources required for all activities
- Estimate duration for all activities
- Identify intermediate and accepted final dates
- Identify all external activities that can affect your project activities
- Create a network diagram
- Analyze the project network diagram for critical paths and time needed
- Identify the slack times for noncritical paths.
If the proposed timelines and completion date is acceptable to your customer, then you are done with scheduling.
First of all, return for your investment is the top priority for any project. Then, budget is next to see if there are sufficient fund for the project. Therefore, estimating project costs is very important.
You can weigh benefits against costs to see if the project makes sense. In addition to that, you want to be sure you have enough funds to support your project till the end.
Project managers typically develop their budget plans in stages. It starts from an initial rough estimate to a detailed budget estimate to an approved budget.
You create an initial rough estimate based on a general sense of the project. But, keep in mind that the initial budget estimate may change significantly. You may find your final budget 100% higher than your initial estimate. That’s because an initial rough estimate is done quickly in a short time based on a past project.
But, a detailed estimate entails the estimated costs for each project activity. You will use the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to develop this estimate.
A completed & approved budget is the final stage of the detailed estimated budget. It means that you have sufficient funds for all project activities.
A risk-management plan minimizes uncertain occurrences that can affect your project delivery. But this plan requires constant maintenance and updates. You are likely to develop a risk-management plan during the preparing stage of your project. Then refine it before carrying out work and continuously updating it throughout the work life.
A risk-management plan consists of:
- Risk factors
- Associated risks
- Consequences for each risk
- Plan to manage those risk
- A plan to keep people informed about these risks throughout the project
Whether it is for a project or the whole organization, effective communication is key to success anywhere. Therefore, it is vital to share the right messages with the right people on time.
Setting up a project communication plan enables you to choose the appropriate method to share different information. Furthermore, you minimize the risk of miscommunication that can occur during your project management environment.
The goal of communication planning is to ensure that the right person receives the intended message on time.
No matter the size of the project, you will always use those techniques in this guide. Overall, when you receive a project assignment, use the following best practices to develop a successful project plan:
- Clarify the reason and results for the project
- Identify your project audiences
- Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Define roles and responsibilities
- Create a Network diagram including a milestone list, Activity list and Gantt chart
- Estimate your budget (Initial Budget, Detail Estimate, and Approved Budget)
- Prepare a risk management plan
- Settle a communication plan
Mastering those steps will drive your project to success. Click to Review Paymo.