As any project manager knows all too well, tackling a new project can be both exciting and daunting; because how you start the project will often determine its success.
When you’re starting out, you’ll be faced with a lot of new data that must be made sense of and then turned into a workable plan. Having a basic checklist will help you structure your plan early on and also ensure that no important details are overlooked.
So whether you’re new to project management or just need a short refresher to get you on the right track.
Cheat Sheet for a successful Project Manager
Define your objective
Every project begins with an objective, and as the project manager, you need to be very clear on what that objective is. If you’re working with a few different people, sit down together and have a brainstorming session to work out exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
What problem are you trying to solve for the company? What are your client’s expectations? What will you be delivering, a product or a service?
Once you’re clear on what the objective is, your next step will be to organise all the important information so that you will have a clear overview of the project and what needs to be done.
If you’re not sure how to do this, start by thinking about the five Ws and one H. Answering these six basic questions will make it easier for you to consider every aspect of the project and prevent you from accidentally leaving out any important details.
What are you trying to accomplish? What resources do you have to work with? What are the potential risks involved? What are the client’s expectations?
Who will benefit from your product or service? Who are your stakeholders and team members? Who will be working on what?
When does the project officially start? When should it finish?
Where will you be working, on site or from a distance? Where are your customers or audience based? Where will you deliver the product or service, online or in a physical store?
Why is your client investing in this project? Why did they ask for your help?
How will you help the company meet their objectives? How will you set a reasonable timeline for the project? How will you measure the project’s progress?
Create a simple project plan
Once you have all the important information lined up, you are ready to create your plan. Generally speaking, the simpler your plan is the easier it will be to implement, so try to break each part of the plan into simple yet actionable steps.
Whether you decide to invest in project management software or prefer to use a basic spreadsheet, make sure you come up with a logical order of business so you know what needs to be tackled first. As the project manager, you should assign a specific task to each member of the team so you know who is responsible for what and can check in with each person periodically.
You should also think about how long each task might take and come up with realistic deadlines for each part of the plan so that certain tasks don’t end up dragging on for too long. These deadlines may need to be adjusted as you go, but having them in place will make everyone more accountable.
Set SMART goals
The best way to make sure you are on track to achieving your project’s objective is to set clear and measurable goals. These are also called SMART goals, because they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Once you’ve decided on measurable goals for your project, write them down and make sure everyone on the team has access to them. This allows everyone to make sure they are on the right track and ask for help if they notice that they are falling behind.
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