My tough love approach (heavy on the love) focuses on bringing order to chaos, and creating solid (and straightforward) strategic plans. I take surveys for fun, never met a process I didn’t like, and am a big believer in personal growth as a keystone to business growth.
Are you owning your projects and seeing them through to the best of your potential?
From the biggest of projects to the smallest, project management is the key to success when it comes to getting things done and staying within your timeline and budget. As online business managers, we’ve had the pleasure of assisting so many small businesses, and have witnessed firsthand how instituting just a bit of organization around a project helps to make the process ease-filled and reduces headaches.
Project management doesn’t have to be difficult, confusing, or stressful! In our years of experience managing projects, we’ve learned a trick or two and we want to share those tips with you here.
Follow these five steps to managing your next project like a BOSS!
One of the best methods for introducing your next project and ensuring its success is setting a goal and making it specific. Take your time and really craft your vision of what your end goal will look like. By being as specific as possible, you and your team all know exactly what you're aiming for. When your goals are clear, concise, and specific, you have a better chance at realizing them.
Pro Tip: When setting your goal make Good, Better, Best scenarios and then aim for Best. Not only are you more likely your reach your goal but if you fall a bit short it won’t feel like a failure, simply something to improve upon.
Once you have your specific goal in mind for your project, create a comprehensive task list. Think through your project from start to finish and start by identifying key milestones in your project and work backward. What large items need to be done in order to reach that milestone? What tasks make up that item? What sub-tasks and deliverables need to be completed?
Consider any obstacles you might run into during your project and how your team will handle them. Crossing items off your to do list is so satisfying; it’s kind of like its own form of therapy! Having a game plan and a task list will set you up for success as you work through your project.
This might be an obvious tip, but it’s a step that often gets either overlooked or neglected. When you have a team meeting and everyone’s excited about the project and your goal, you can get caught up in the frenzy and forget to take the next steps you need to successfully manage your project. Or worse, when you don’t share the project with your team and nobody is excited about it except for you (because they don’t even know about it) it’s easy to lose momentum.
Be sure to include your team in your vision and plan and assign specific tasks to team members. This isn’t just for accountability; by assigning tasks you also give your team members an investment in the project’s outcome. Plus, your project will be more efficiently managed because everyone will know exactly who is doing what and what tasks need to be completed to accomplish your greater goal.
Pro Tip: Follow up with everyone consistently and bring the whole team together often to share successes, struggles, and review what still needs to be done. You want to avoid people working away in a silo. Providing an opportunity for the team to speak together about the project will boost efficiency, effectiveness, encourage creative problem solving, and increase momentum overall. Just be sure to keep the meeting positive. Look for solutions to struggles and celebrate accomplishments.
Setting milestones and deadlines for your overall project and the tasks within it, is one of the most important tips we can suggest to you. When you set a deadline, you create urgency and provide clear expectations surrounding momentum. More often than not, when team members don’t have a deadline for a task, it doesn’t get done because it keeps getting pushed back again.. and again.. and again. Don’t let this happen on your project!
Estimate how long each task should take (then double that – most people underestimate timeframes) and set dates. If there’s need for flexibility later, you can make adjustments as the situation requires, but setting deadlines in general will keep you on time and on budget for your project.
The scariest part of any project is getting to the finish line only to realize you blew your budget and it’s too late to go back! Tracking your costs from the start of your project, checking expenses regularly, and keeping your total budget number in mind will help you stay on course.
Depending on the project, “budget” might refer to physical purchases, or you might be tracking the allocation of human resources and time. When a small business has limited resources, it's critical to make sure every cent spent is accurately tracked every step of the way. That way, at the end, you’ll be able to evaluate and showcase how much value your time and experience has brought to the project and be able to accurately assess the success of your project overall.
The purpose of these five steps is to help you to break down your project into manageable, achievable pieces, which will allow you to divide and conquer without becoming overwhelmed. When you’re organized and have a clear head, project management really can be made easy! Implement these steps on your next project and we’re sure you’ll be more organized, more focused, and more successful!
If you’re thinking that project management isn’t for you or that you need help, that’s perfectly fine—and quite wise—too! An Online Business Manager or high-level Virtual Assistant like our team at Any Old Task can help you manage your projects with ease. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you!
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