Project planning can be an extremely complex process. When handled well, it can increase a company’s product offering and ultimately their profitability. When handled poorly, budgets get over-spent, products don’t make it to launch, and employees get frustrated with the lack of results.
Fortunately, while the process is complex, there are ways to simplify the steps and the work involved to make project planning and implementation a streamlined function of the overall business. Here are some of the ways you can incorporate these steps into your next project.
Use project management software
Project management software used to be tedious and require special training to operate. On the flip side of the coin were whiteboards and post-it notes, which were a great visual tool that lacked the opportunity for collaboration. Now, you can find a happy medium that balances the user-friendliness of the whiteboard approach with the details and collaborative approach of cloud software.
Project management software is particularly useful in app development projects, and can provide “Everything you need to succeed in an uncertain environment.” (Source: https://hygger.io/) By using project management software, you ensure your entire team is on the same page, whether you’re in a small startup or scattered around the globe.
Select a taskmaster
All projects should have someone running point, a taskmaster who ensures that everything is moving forward as it should and is willing to shake some trees when the project stalls. This is the person who will be keeping track of the master plan and often runs cross-functional team meetings to stay up-to-date on progress.
In many standardized project management approaches – Agile, for example – selecting someone to oversee the project is one of the first steps taken when a project is proposed. While it will take a village to bring your idea to fruition, you need one person who is willing to have some skin in the game.
Assign names, dates, and consequences
It’s not enough to say that someone is responsible for a task and leave it at that. You need to assign names, so your project doesn’t fall victim to the bystander effect. Furthermore, you need to give due dates on the tasks and identify the consequences of those terms not being met. This doesn’t mean that you should threaten your team with dismissal, but let them know what other tasks are contingent on their cooperation and potential cost implications of a delay.
In many cases, you’re only giving the various teams involved a piece of the pie rather than showing them the project in its entirety. They may not be aware of the other moving pieces. By telling them what’s involved, they’ll better understand the importance of their actions and ignorance won’t be an excuse.
Prioritize and focus
A business could have multiple projects running at any given time. At a certain point, however, those projects meet the law of diminishing returns. When this occurs, things fall through the cracks and projects aren’t completed as quickly or as efficiently as possible.
To simplify the process, don’t give your team more than they can handle. Devote your complete attention to a few projects rather than juggling multiple projects when resources are limited. Start by identifying which projects will take the highest and lowest time and cost commitments. Cross-reference and prioritize which projects should be handled first.
Have a post-mortem
Last but not least, be sure to hold a post-mortem after every project. This not only provides team members with a chance to celebrate their successes, but it also provides an opportunity to discuss challenges and identify solutions to avoid repeating mistakes with future projects.
With a well-structured, organized approach to project management, you can make the road from idea to launch smoother with fewer twists and turns. Keep it simple, and the process will be smooth sailing.