Managing a huge project is a daunting prospect. That said, there are some best practices that, if implemented properly, will give you a much greater chance of making yours a success. Here’s a handful of our favourites…
Plan your time properly
One of the most crucial stages of project management is planning. In order to make a project a success, you need to dedicate a large amount of time to plan out milestones effectively. In other words, establishing what will be achieved by when, and by whom. For example, is there a research-heavy stage of the project? Are there certain people who will need to approve this work? Have you built in enough time for amends and tweaks? It can be useful to start with the final deadline and work backward. Once you know the end date for project delivery, you can work out how long you have between then, and plan your work streams accordingly. It’s also helpful to split your project out into stages, as a starting point. You can name these whatever you like, but here’s an example:
- Discovery stage – planning, research, brainstorming, ideas generation
- Design stage – the actual doing stage, i.e. writing/collating/building
- Implementation stage – this is where a launch plan and rollout comes into play
- Analysis stage – gathering feedback, looking at what went well/learnings for the future
Connect with the right stakeholders – and do it promptly
If you know there are certain people that need to be involved with your project, make sure you loop them in early on. You’ll need to communicate clearly what you’re trying to achieve and why, and what you need from them to make it happen. For instance, could this individual have some issues with your plans that you need to think about solutions for? Or are you simply picking the brains of a subject matter expert who could help you along the way? Make a list of who you need to connect with and get those meetings in the diary straight away.
Manage your team effectively
If your project isn’t a solo effort (and projects very rarely are), then you’ll likely have a team of people to manage. Your job? Keeping everyone organised and clear on what’s needed and when. Start with a project kick-off meeting where you’ll establish who is doing what. This is a chance to explain the purpose and meaning behind the project, too – helpful for getting your team engaged and committed to its goals. Discuss how often meetings about the project will take place, agree on communication platforms/methods, and open the room up for questions and concerns. If everyone leaves feeling informed and positive, you’ve done your job well here..
Keep calm and carry on!
There are always obstacles within project management, it’s just the way it is. The key is to stay calm, approach these things with a clear head and always ask for help if you need it. Chances are, this won’t be about life and death, so there’s nothing that can’t be solved if you – and your team – put your mind(s) to it. Roll with the punches, too. A good project manager likes a challenge, and sees every obstacle or unplanned issue as a chance to learn for the future.