Improve Your Project Management
Kathryn O'Day shares six easy ways to improve your project management.
Six steps to getting clear on your projects
Do you have a clear vision but aren’t sure what steps to take to get there? Or lots of ideas but unsure how to prioritize? Or maybe you’re new to making and executing plans and wondering how to get started?
I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs and teams over the years to turn big goals or ideas into actionable plans using this six step process:
- Start at the end.
- Identify the end goal. It should have a date and a number (aka quantifiable way to define success). Check out SMART goals.
- More than one end goal? Pick one or create a separate plan for each. Focus is key.
- Make a list.
- List out all the actions or steps that could possibly be involved.
- More is better here, we’ll cut later.
- Order it.
- Put the actions in chronological order.
- For example, you need a domain name before you can get company email addresses.
- Some things may be able to happen in parallel.
- Estimate the amount of time (and money) for each step. Be generous since we often underestimate.
- Now double your already generous estimates. We humans are terrible at estimating time!
- Do a reality check.
- Review your actions + time/budget allotted + stated end goal
- It’s likely your plan is (a) behind schedule (b) impossible to hit because there’s not enough hours in the day (c) over budget (d) all of the above
- That’s okay! You have time to course correct. Start cutting. A simplified but realistic plan is 100x better than an ambitious pipe dream.
- Assign due dates and DRIs.
- Assign a due date and a “directly responsible individual” for each step.
- Make it crystal clear who does what by when.
- Ask, “Is the workload divided appropriately?”
- It’s easier to identify bottlenecks as the plan progresses.
You have now turned your vision into concrete steps with dates and DRIs, but what’s the best way to do this process? Whatever works for you!
Post-its on a whiteboard is a classic method. Transfer it to a spreadsheet (or fave project management tool) when you have your final actions, DRIs, dates.
Do you verbally process or like to bounce ideas off people? Invite a friend or colleague to work through this.
This is also a great team activity with the decision maker having final say. Everyone contributes and understands the time and budget tradeoffs.
Now it’s time to put your clear vision and plan into action, go forth and conquer that project!