Project management is a full-time job. From start to finish, a project manager is supposed to be there with the team in person and in spirit. However, what if I told you that if you put your best foot forward, and make your initial steps count, you can potentially make this whole journey easier?
Project planning is something that we always claim to do, however, there are always discrepancies, there are always roadblocks, this goes to show that there are some holes in the way we perceive and hence execute project planning.
In this article, we shall discuss all the steps you have been missing, these are 7 tips that can make a huge impact on your daily project management plan.
#1 Visualize Everything
A project will not seem doable enough until you cannot visualize everything that has to be done. Here at ProofHub, we believe that a task visualized is a task half done.
The Wharton School of Business study found that visualization of data and project dynamics can help shorten meetings by upwards of 24%. It proves that easy access to information can help cut down the time spent in meetings and repetitive conversations.
There are a lot of ways in which you can visualize tasks. For instance, you can use tools like Kanban boards, Gantt charts, a flowchart, a detailed table, a to-do list, or simple notes to be on top of things.
With a project management tool, your team will have an easy time visualizing the product backlog and overviewing every task and every idea that lies in the pipeline.
- Kanban boards, for instance, help you divide tasks into the stages of progress they lie in. This helps teams visualize tasks and work in sync with a defined workflow.
- Gantt charts, on the other hand, help visualize tasks with respect to their duration, start date/time, and end date/time. This helps teams view overlapping tasks and overview dependencies in the project.
- Tables/Flowcharts help visualize tasks in a systematic way which helps users be on top of their agendas and learn more about their role in the project.
#2 Set A Reasonable Timeline
The other thing one can do while effectively mapping out a project management plan is setting a reasonable timeline complete with achievable deadlines and task durations.
One way to do that is to look at the past, overview the projects that have been completed.
The other way is to make sure to go over your inventory – view and count the number of people working for you, the time period in which you have to submit the project, and the resources that are needed.
It is important that you set a realistic timeline so that you can avoid these 2 scenarios:
Scenario 1: People get overwhelmed by the huge task to time ratio and making careless mistakes.
Scenario 2: People being demotivated because of the low task to time ratio.
Therefore, it is a thin line to walk on, but if you do find that sweet spot through unhindered analysis, you can surely get there.
Another factor to take care of is having a contingency plan. This will ensure that you have a fallback plan for every discrepancy that might occur when you roll out your grand plan.
#3 A Reliable Tracking Setup
Setting realistic expectations and defining achievable deadlines is all good, but you can’t make sure that your project will run smoothly till you have a reliable tracking setup. It is always wise to be on top of things 24/7. Therefore, make sure that your team doesn’t run off-track by setting up tracking systems to oversee everything that is going on, every contribution being made to the project, every resource being used, and more.
- Using project management or task management tools, you can make this journey effectively easier. Here’s how:
- With the right tools you can make time tracking easier, tools such as Time Doctor, can come in handy when you want to track payable hours.
- Another example is of project management tools like ProofHub that can help teams collaborate on the same platform and track all the moving pieces of the project – notes, discussions, tasks, and subtasks, not to mention, resources.
In fact with tracking software platforms, one can communicate better with clients through transparency exhibited by being on the same platform as your team. In fact, this point further helps in gathering and working on client feedback and to generally course-correct as you move on with your project.
#4 Set Up A Contingency Plan
Setting up a safety net or a plan B can never be a bad idea. It makes you wise if you are looking for solutions to problems that might not even exist.
While tracking resources and setting deadlines will definitely help you identify roadblocks and bottlenecks. Having a contingency plan will make sure that this smooth sailing stays consistent even when things go bad.
Having replacements/substitutions for your people, having an influx of extra resources, and having an alternate source for capital, would be a good start to prep for contingencies.
#5 Break Tasks Down To Manageable Portions
The other thing you want to do to make your project management plan absolutely solid is to break bigger projects down into smaller doable portions. This will help build up morale in the office and help you raise the motivation levels in the process.
Breaking a project into smaller doable task sets will help you bring a sprint-like approach to how your team executes the working of the project. This means that your team will have a defined set of tasks to work with but in smaller intervals. This will help them be more agenda-driven, not to mention more productive and efficient in the whole process.
Here’s how you can execute this plan effectively:
- Break down projects into tasks.
- Define the priority of said tasks.
- Set weekly and monthly goals
- Break the timeline of the project into achievable milestones.
Use these goals to leverage morale and motivation in the workplace by celebrating achievements.
Additionally, you would like to extend a hand to your people in the spirit of remote work collaboration by assigning these tasks with clarity and adding relevant descriptions.
#6 Assign Accountability Partners
In self-governing teams and cross-functional groups, accountability is self-sustaining, however, to keep these productivity levels constant, everyone needs an accountability partner who can keep them in check.
Having an individual or a group of people as accountability partners, your team will have a greater incentive to do their part so that they can save themselves from the embarrassment of telling their partner(s) why they could not do what they were assigned to do.
When employees get into the habit of checking in on one another, people are more likely to achieve a lot more and work with higher accuracy. Not only will this promote team motivation, but it will also help you actively increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
#7 Make Communication Your Anchor
For a project plan to work effortlessly, you need to make communication a constant thing, not just that though, you also need to make sure that it leads to productive outcomes as well.
Even a 15-minute standup can help you take care of all the progress and keep tabs on what all is happening if you choose to ask the right questions.
For example, here are 3 things you must discuss:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What is the agenda for today?
- What are some factors causing delays in work?
Keeping communication constant is especially more important for teams that are working remotely. In fact, these teams that have the privilege of working from home must come together for a meeting at least twice a day.
An impermeable project management plan is a result of constant preparation methods made to hold it together, but it is also a result of a solid foundation of deep thinking and excessive planning.
Written by Nandini Sharma.