The pressure is on. With teams large and small - often split across different geographical locations - to coach and motivate, a multitude of deliverables and timelines, and a host of responsibilities, it’s no surprise that many feel that actually getting things done is the tricky part. That is why the planning stage is such a key success factor for projects.
A lack of clear direction is a common cause of project inefficiency. All project managers should ask themselves:
- What should I be doing to get my teams more actively involved in the planning process?
- How can I make my project planning more efficient?
- What path in the long term will enable your team to reach its goals?
As anyone who has ever managed a project will know, plans evolve. Whether it’s the scope of the project or the timeframe, change is inevitable. So as a project team, you must be agile and responsive. Create a strategy based on the overall objectives and the project or initiative timeline.
But it can be a double-edged sword. Too detailed a plan and a project manager might feel so committed that they stick to the plan too rigidly – at the expense of the project’s smooth running. It’s important to adjust long-term plans on a regular basis and keep the more detailed planning, who’s working on what and when, to a for example 1-2 month time horizon. And ideally, the detailed planning should actually be done by the team members that will do the work. Kanban board-like tools are optimal for doing just that.
Planning also needs to account for unforeseen additions to the workload. Tasks taking longer than expected and people getting sick mean timelines should be extended out in anticipation.
Remember, one of the main goals of project management is to spend a little time organising to get back a big portion of time that may have been spent on unnecessary, unproductive work.
Want to learn more about planning and move forwards on the path towards becoming the best project manager you can possibly be? Check out the first part of the Project Manager’s Guide to Getting Things Done.
This blog is written and sponsored by Planview.