This guest blog is by Jeff DiDomenico, VP Marketing & Alliances at VALIANT Workforce Management Solutions. Whether you are implementing a new HR solution or executing a new recruitment marketing campaign, it’s important to remember some key essentials. Enjoy some great tips on project management below!
Every so often, we come across words and expressions that have been so overused it’s hard to remember what they actually mean. “Literally”, “Thank You In Advance”, “Baby Bump”, “Occupy” are a few examples. If I had to come up with my personal list, “Project Management” would make my Top 10. This expression makes us think of what it takes to control a bunch of gnomes in a cave writing endless software code.
Truth is, regardless of what industry you find yourself in and what your job description is, you will at some point or another be faced with project management. You could be completing a school assignment, delivering a set of reports to your manager, or filming a movie, all these processes require management. So, when discussing project management best practices, we want to take a simple, broad approach that will hopefully be useful in various situations.
- Plan, Plan, and then Plan: It is important not to cut corners when planning before starting a project. You would never get in your car and start driving to a place you’ve never been before without getting directions and figuring out how long it will take to get there. You would be surprised, however, to find out how many projects start without the major players knowing where they are going and how long it will take to get there. A lot of what determines a project’s success or failure can be traced back to planning.
- Define Your Objectives: You may go to the same grocery store to purchase supplies for a 4th of July party or to get lunch for the kids. The trip is very similar, but the objectives couldn’t be further apart from each other. Clearly defining your objectives will play a big part in knowing how much budget, time and how many resources to allocate to your project.
- Define Your Deliverables (Scope): Make sure all parties involved understand what the tangible things are that define the completion of the project. The scope of your project may be “doing the laundry”. One person may interpret the project as completed after the clothes are dry, and someone else may think the project is only done when the clothes are folded. To avoid this situation, be sure to document your scope in detail and without ambiguity.
- Know the Players: This sounds obvious, but you must make sure you know all the people who have any stake in the completion of this project. Knowing your resources allows you to staff your project in the most efficient way (you don’t want your catcher playing center field). And knowing all the stakeholders who will have a say in the success or failure of the project could prevent the importance of your project from being overlooked, and resources (budget, people, etc.) moved elsewhere.
- Identify and Manage Risks: It is almost impossible to prevent unexpected hurdles from showing up at some point during your project. However, it is important to try and identify those hurdles up front, and have a contingency plan in case they occur.
- Track Progress: Once your project starts, be sure to keep a close look on the progress. Any deviations in relation to the original plan must be communicated to all key players, because they will most likely affect cost, schedule, deliverables or all of them. You wouldn’t like to take your car to the shop for an oil change and later find out the engine was replaced. Be sure to communicate any variances constantly, via weekly meetings and/or status reports and be prepared to discuss a new plan of action if necessary.
The expression “no man is an island” would probably also make my overused list. However, as cliché as it sounds, this expression is very true in relation to managing the outcome of a project. Communication is at the center of all the bullet points above, and can never be underestimated (or overused!).