See your projects through to success with these tips.
Projects, goals, resolutions, new initiatives, and group meetings. Do one or more of those fill you with a sense of dread? If so, it's probably because, in the past, you've been overwhelmed or frustrated when they haven't gone the way you planned.
While it's easy to take these failures personally, it's important to remember that they've happened to nearly everyone in every industry.
The good news is that failure isn't final. By taking the proper steps and building the right habits throughout every project, your project will have a fighting chance at success. Read on for five tried and true strategies for managing projects more effectively.
No. 1: Identify your goal and outline your initial needs.
First things first, get crystal clear on your goal if you haven't already. If your overarching goal is to raise revenue by 15%, and you want to create a new membership offering to sell to guests, put some thought into how the membership program will help you achieve your goal. Such as:
- How much revenue do you hope to make with the program?
- How many memberships will you need to sell to achieve the revenue goal?
- Who will you want on the team to help build and roll out the program?
- When do you want to roll it out?
No. 2: Communicate the project needs and get buy-in from participants.
Many projects fail because we don't get buy-in from the people we want to participate in the project. That's why it's essential to roughly outline the project so that you can articulate it clearly to your team and gain their buy-in.
When meeting with the people you want to work on the project, give them an "elevator pitch" of what you hope to accomplish, by when, how you see the project impacting your goals, and then invite them to give feedback and commit to participating. If you want the project to succeed, you have to get participant buy-in. Ask them what they think, if they believe the project objectives and timelines are attainable, and what roadblocks they anticipate facing. The last thing you want is to "voluntell" your team to start working on a project, and when it fails, to have them share that they never thought it could succeed or was attainable in the first place.
No. 3: Create a formal plan.
Work together to outline the full scope of the project. Create a master project plan for what will need to be accomplished, and by when, for the project to meet its deadlines. You can create your own, use a project plan software like Monday.com and Asana, or use a simple spreadsheet to keep track of all the tasks and deadlines of your project.
My preferred tracking method is a simple Google Sheet, shared among project participants, that can be updated in real-time. I keep track of the main tasks on one tab, and on other tabs, I'll keep budgets, meeting notes, sub-projects, and key takeaways we learn along the way. Create your own or modify one from the Google Sheets Template Gallery, which offers free project plan templates, Gantt Charts, and other tools. Don't be afraid to keep it simple, though. A simple list with tasks, deadlines, and parties responsible is really all you need to get started.
No. 4: Commit to roles and responsibilities.
Once you have outlined the project's scope, it's time to assign responsibilities. If everyone is accountable, that's the same as saying that no one is. This step is mission-critical. Give one person (or two people at the most) the responsibility for tracking and updating the status of every task in the process. If a piece of the project is too big for one person to handle completely, it's perfectly fine to establish a committee, but make sure that someone is responsible for providing updates.
By the time you end the planning session, you should have a clear answer for the following:
- What is/are the next step(s)?
- Who is going to take action on the steps?
- When is the following action due?
- What should a participant do if they hit a roadblock before the next meeting?
Note that we've mentioned potential roadblocks. It's important to outline what should happen if and when a participant hits a stumbling block so they won't delay the project's progress because they're afraid to ask for help. This approach sets the stage that it's ok to ask for help, so there will be no need for a participant to hesitate.
No. 5: Measure progress with clear accountability.
Share the meeting notes and project plan with the team so that you'll have visibility into the project's progress. Establish regular progress report meetings where you review task statuses, budgets, marketing needs and collateral, and success.
Be sure that these meetings are focused, transparent, and most of all, that they're effective. If a project is off track, be prepared to have respectful, candid discussions as a team about what's happening, how to overcome any challenges, and where you might need to change or add resources, as necessary.
And finally, be as committed to tackling every challenge as you are to celebrating your eventual success. Because if your team stays focused on these steps, you'll be well-positioned to succeed - every time.
Want a free project plan template to get you started? Get that here.
Have other ideas for successful project planning? Share them with us in the comments or on Twitter!