If you have been running a startup for some time, you’ve probably heard about the importance of project planning and management.
Everyone talks about dealing with projects, how difficult it can be and how busy it keeps them – especially with startups. This is because projects benefit your business, and you might even depend on them.
Many people get confused about creating a perfect project plan. They don’t know what to include there or how big they should go with it. Today, we answer some of those burning questions – as well as share with you some amazing secrets to having the best project plan possible.
Knowing what you are doing is the first step
This might seem like an obvious “secret” to share, but it is a very important one.
Many people try to delve into project management blindly, without even defining what a project is.
If you start asking around, you will probably run into a huge variety of definitions. This is alright, but it only goes to show that you need to create your own (or borrow the one you like) – and stand for it. After all, only when you know what you are doing can you start planning for it!
Usually, though, a project will mean a process that consists of a multitude of bigger tasks to handle. During the planning phase, you will split it into these tasks, which you will then split into smaller ones and so on until you have an array of things and chores to accomplish in order to succeed.
If something is a project, however, it can be both easy and hard to define. You might need to service a client or set up a user network, for example. These two things are pretty different, but you can consider both of them projects.
To help you define if something is a project, you will need to sit down and write everything you are working on.
Then, you write down your future plans. Finally, you will want to group this list up by having the same goals. This is how you get a project list! From these, you will want to pick only around five to plan further.
Set up the timelines to function easily
One of the biggest problems in project management is respecting the timeline. This is why this is an essential step of any perfect project plan – and you should always think about it when planning further.
Obviously, you should know when your project needs to start and when it should finish.
Then, think about how long it will take for each task, and plan accordingly. Adding milestones to the timeline is also important. They will be things to strive for and are a powerful tool for checking your team’s progress.
Another perk of creating a timeline is to keep your business cycles going.
You do not want projects to go on for too long – this makes your business stuck in the same place. Instead, your goal is to develop constantly, so knowing when to give up on a project is a good thing too.
Start simple and build up
Managing a project is somewhat like running a business – although a bit simpler.
It also demands you to start simple, and then do more and more complicated tasks. This is why one of the best secrets to a perfect project plan we can share with you is not to complicate it.
Most of the time, a perfect plan is only one page long.
All you need is to simply write down the most important things. It is really about answering some of the essential questions – the first one being how your client will benefit from your project – and how will your business improve and develop from it too.
Work with clients to answer these questions
The best people who can help you find your answers are clients who you need to deliver for.
If you are running your project for your own business, then you should probably know the answers already. If not, then simply talk to your clients – and they will answer. This way you will set up the scope of the project – which is a trait of all good project plans.
You need to know exactly what you can work with. Inquire about the resources and the budget, and then create a team you think is best suited for the tasks. Then, design the timeline like we discussed. Make sure you know what you expect to accomplish by what point in time.
At this time, it is also a smart idea to think about any obstacles in your way, and how you can bypass them.
Finally, figure out how you will measure success. Write down all your answers, and you have created a perfect project plan. Look back to it to get a better insight and understand of the project, and the things you will need to do.
Communicate clearly with your team
You’ve probably heard a thousand times that good communication is essential to project management. This is because it is true – without proper communication, there is no good project.
So, adding how you will communicate with your team into your plan is the next step.
There are many useful tools that will help you track the progress as well as help your team report back to you – and you report back to the client. Decide on one of them and stick to your decision.
Finally, do not underestimate the importance of instant communication. This is especially important when working remotely – you will want to have team meetings at least once a week. During these, your team can give you feedback – and you can go over all tasks with them. This will ensure everyone is on the same page.
The final thing to remember, though, is not to micromanage. There is a fine line to walk here – you want to overview the project, but you should also give your team some space to work on their own.
This way, you will have the perfect team and the perfect project plan!