Step 1: Define the Purpose of the Project and Understand the Requirements
Gather your team and your stakeholders to discuss what you want to achieve, and how you plan on getting there. It is vital that every member of the project understands the project’s objectives and requirements.
Do not start planning anything before you define the scope. Make sure that everyone knows what the destination is, and how to get there. How you do this differs from project to project. Some stakeholders will agree to have the entire team in meetings, some will require you to pass the information along to the team. Scheduling a project is similar regardless of the project’s purpose, but the complexity differs.
Step 2: Write Every Activity Down
Even though you’re not sure about the order things will be done yet, start writing tasks down. Make sure you include every task you can think of so you can put them in order afterward. This step is essential because it gives you a list of all the ingredients you need for your project before you start putting everything together.
Make sure to involve the team in this process as they can help point out specific tasks or needs that you might not be aware of at the time.
It might be a good trick to write everything down in a free project management tool, such as Fluxes. It will be easier to put everything in order once you have all the details figured out.
Step 3: Group Tasks
Once you have a clear understanding of the tasks you need to complete to reach your goals, it’s time to start putting them in order. Keep in mind that some assignments will depend on each other, so you need to be aware of these interdependencies once you start building your timeline. Think of every task and ask yourself if it can be done by itself, or if it depends on other tasks. Consult with your team and elicit their expertise whenever you think they can help.
Step 4: Assign Milestones
Now, is the best time to set milestones. These are smaller objectives that your team needs to reach to move on to the next stage of the project. Milestones are connected through all the steps you need to take to fulfill them. It can look something like this:
Task 1 – Task 2 – Task 3 – Milestone A – Task 4 – Task 5 – Milestone B – Task 6 – Task 7 – Milestone COf course, this example is overly simplified. Projects are usually far more complex than that, and the way you reach these milestones might be trickier. But setting smaller objectives will help you and your team to stay on track and verify the progress of the project.
Step 5: Set Due Dates
It’s vital to consult with your team and judge how long each task will take to complete. Include the members of your team and get estimates from them. Make sure that you leave some time for possible errors or unexpected events. Try to predict where things may get complicated and allow your team enough time to do their jobs. Create a timeline that is reasonable and make sure that the stakeholders understand it and approve it.
Step 6: Allocate Resources
By now you should have a pretty clear view of how the project is going to unfold and what the roles for each stage should be. Now it’s time to assign the tasks and let everyone on your team know what’s expected of them.
Give as much detail as possible so that you don’t waste too much time with back and forth emails. Talk to your team and ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities. Make sure that the people to whom you’ve assigned the tasks have the necessary skills and expertise to complete them.
Step 7: Risk Assessment
Project development and implementation is rarely a smooth sail. Even when you think you have planned for every possible scenario, something unexpected can happen, and you need to regroup and rethink your entire strategy. It’s one of the things that make project management such an interesting and challenging job.
Try to think of what could go wrong, why it could go wrong, and how you are going to handle any possible mishaps. Sure, you cannot predict everything, but it’s helpful to be as prepared as you can be. Have a backup plan ready should things start to go downhill.Keep in mind that risk assessment is not a once-and-done job. You will have to revisit the list throughout the development of the project and constantly adapt and modify it.
Review and Track
As the manager of the project, you are expected to keep an eye on how everything is going. Supervise your team and follow their progress. Be aware of possible difficulties and assist in finding solutions when they are needed. You should be mindful of people’s work and communicate with them as much as possible. Do not be invasive, though. It’s much more effective to be supportive and let your team know that they can count on you whenever they need your help rather than to boss them around.
Track the progress of the project from the very beginning. Use a system where your team can log everything and keep track of tasks (such as fluxes.com), and one that the team can use to report on their progress and receive your feedback (such as status.net).
A report can also help you compare actual progress with what you anticipated in the project plan. You can see where you are and compare it to where you thought you would be. If necessary you can adjust your strategy based on the new information you have.
Think of the tasks, who is going to do them and how.
Identify the connections between them.
Offer your support and always be available for your team when they need you.
Don’t forget to congratulate your team and show your appreciation for their hard work.