Project management is all about balancing the big picture with the day-in, day-out details. Rather than being at odds, seamless navigation between those two ends of the project spectrum are what enable both solid strategic and tactical results. To get better results on your next project, consider adopting these ideas.
- Develop a detailed plan. A lot of people think they have a plan in their head, but if they tried to put it on paper, they’d realize it wasn’t as complete as they thought. Make sure the plan defines the strategic objectives, identifies the right team, details the specific steps needed to complete the project, states associated deadlines, sets milestones, names deliverables and outlines a clear budget.
- Gain agreement on the plan. Confirm that all stakeholders understand the plan and agree it’s the right plan. Then, confirm that each person understands his/her role. For an agency like Bottom Line, where our team partners closely with a client team, this step is essential for gaining feedback and approvals, and completing tasks on time.
- Use the plan to guide daily work. Translating the plan into some kind of tracking mechanism is essential. The good news is that it can take many forms, from a simple list to spreadsheets, to a visual tracking board, a whiteboard, or an online project management tool. The key is to set an expectation that team members understand assignments, and track and report in on their progress.
- Use the plan to maintain strategic focus. In the crush of meeting deadlines and actually getting work done, continually reference the project’s strategic objectives. Developing a marketing communication plan, a website, or a social media campaign, for example, requires continuous alignment of content and messages with photos and graphics to ensure brand support.
- Communicate frequently about the status of the plan. Call forward challenges, unexpected developments and next steps. Surprises, inflexibility, gaps in understanding, lack of awareness, and scope creep are usually the result of communication failures. Whether it’s a weekly update meeting, regular conference calls, or personal check-ins with team members, nothing beats a conversation.
Want your next project to be better than the last? Understand both the big picture and the details, get everything into a plan, and use the plan to propel forward motion every step of the way. Wondering what to do when the plan doesn’t live up to expectations, or the process fails along the way? That’s my next blog.
- Beth Fredrickson, Senior PR Counselor