The start of a project is often the most intimidating. You can make it easier on yourself with the right plan, team and full stakeholder support. Here are five tips for starting a project. When you lay the groundwork with a good start, it will pay off all the way to the end. Here are five tips for starting a project.
Decide what the project will achieve. It sounds simple, but many of them suffer from having vague goals. A clear objective keeps the project in line with the organization’s wider objectives. It also sets realistic expectations, so executives will be pleased unless something goes wrong. It also prevents scope creep, which brings unaccounted for costs and delays. Define a goal that’s ambitious, but realistic. Anything that falls out of that original remit can be given to a new project.
It’s important to get the project goals on paper, but only if stakeholders are kept in the loop. Make sure they all weigh in on the risks, outcomes and deliverables. Do this early on, when establishing goals. This will stop executives from requesting extra deliverables while the project is underway. A clear goal isn’t always enough to keep a project on track. Everyone involved should understand the project, so they can contribute to the best of their ability.
Building the right team is key to project success. When the project has a clear goal, this part will be easier. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of team members, then recruit others to fill the gaps. Beyond that, you need to keep in constant communication with them. Establish guidelines for how you’ll communicate, whether it’s through email, a collaboration tool or something else. This plan should also include a schedule for regular meetings. These will let team members share their thoughts and frustrations about the project.
Easily avoidable project delays can come from the team missing software. When first meeting the team, find out what tools and access levels they need. The beginning of a project can be a swarm of people demanding logins or waiting around. Instead, prepare everything before the project even starts. It’s often an afterthought for project managers, but it shouldn’t be.
A lot of the points made here should be addressed in your project plan. Every framework, methodology and guidance has their own version. Whatever the discipline, project plans have the same essential elements. The idea is to resolve the big questions and concerns about a project. The project plan can then guide you and the stakeholders throughout the project’s life. You can find out more about them in our previous blog about project plan templates.