You may not be a certified project manager. Maybe you just missed out on the fancy classes. I’ll assume that you’re reading this because you manage work in some capacity. You may not have any direct reports, but if you do one of the following, it is assumed that you manage work and projects:
- Do something and finish it
- Do something and pass it on to someone else
That’s all part of project management. Some of those tasks may be large, some may be small and some may have several steps. But that’s all project management, too. To be more efficient, there are probably a few steps in the process that you’re overlooking.
Being aware of these will help you streamline your workflow. In this post, we’ll examine four different project management processes that you may be overlooking.
1. Are you defining the project?
When we get a new assignment at work, some questions float through our heads. Normally, they go something like this:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- How long will this take?
We may not always know the answers to those, but the closer we get, the better off our work will be, because we’re defining the project.
So what is a project?
A project has a start and end date, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. A good project has a plan. Some work needs to be done first before moving on to other tasks.
Defining the boundaries (or scope) of your project will help you know what to do now and what to do later. Random ideas aren’t a project — you have to make them into one.
Doing this will help you prioritize the plan and the tasks that come after it. It’s not only important to define what the word “project” means; it’s also important to establish what your project is. Understanding how much you’re taking on before you begin will help you and your team stay focused and clear.
2. What are your project deliverables?
Do you know what you’re trying to do with your work or what the end deliverable is? You could do all the research in the world, but your boss won’t care as much if it’s not in the slide deck or whitepaper. Or they won’t care if you know how to sketch dimensions if they’re not in the blueprint. The format to deliver the work is part of the work.
Understand what your work is supposed to do before delivering. Don’t offer extra features if your new software can’t do the original specifications. Too often teams “over-deliver” without adding value to the expected deliverable in the first place.
3. Are you sticking to the schedule?
After you know your project and line up the tasks, build a schedule that your team can follow and understand. In agile, that could include sprints, builds, and even a backlog. Setting the start and due dates for each task and estimating when the next work will begin is a good step too.
A helpful tool for this is a Gantt chart. They help you see the progress you’re making on the project, identify risks, and show you a path forward.
4. Can you use a template?
Most project management tools offer templates for projects and tasks. Templates build on your hard work by making it simpler for you to do a task the next time around. Once you add the details, subtasks, and any pertinent files, you can reuse the workflow process. You do not have to build from scratch.
This is especially helpful if many people are contributing similar tasks to a project and you need consistency across the board. Within templates, you can set recurring tasks and start/due dates to help you remember when to begin and finish.
Before running headfirst into your next project or assignment, take a step back and examine the different processes that may help your work be even more successful. These examples give you a good place to start. By setting your project scope, schedule, and templates at the beginning, your projects will be faster, more efficient, and more successful!
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