The success of the team within a business is a key factor for the evolution of an enterprise. Teams and departments are always trying to increase their results and show off their importance for the company. Nowadays, it is impossible to have a company without at least the basic departments. Administration, Management, Marketing, Sales, these and many more departments need to exist within a business.
Every employee in one of those departments has certain obligations. Certain processes that they have to complete and deadlines they have to meet. These horizontal tasks need to always be followed. But how do those tasks help the business evolve? The answer is simple. They don’t. The horizontal tasks of a business have a supportive role. They are there to make sure that the business moves continuously. Processes that are considered more standard cannot stop.
Employers with vision
An employer who has a vision for the company knows the importance of independent projects and how good they can be for the business. Yes, the marketing department has specific tasks that they need to complete every day. These tasks ensure that the business maintains a good name. But how will the business acquire more followers? How can the business build the brand faster? Perhaps bring in more collaborators through the marketing department.
The answer is simple. Projects. Projects that are implemented by specific teams in specific departments and have a short-term or a long-term impact on the company. Projects focused on specific actions that will not stray from their path.
An example of a project could be the organization of an event to attract more customers as well as collaborators. It could be the launch of a series of how-to videos for a company’s products or services. These projects require a team, good collaboration and most importantly patience!
Starting the project is never easy
Starting a project with a team might sound easy in the beginning but it is certainly not. A lot of times, project managers and team members realize that sometimes conflicts between the employes or lack of proper task dissemination is the reason why the project might fail and not the nature of the project itself.
The experience of bad collaboration and a bad project can be disastrous. It is rather common for a lot of people to get discouraged after a bad experience and not want to work on other projects. However, a bad experience is not a reason to get discouraged. It is, in fact, an opportunity. An opportunity to take a step back and analyze the problem and the project planning for business process to understand how it can all be improved.
Was was the project delayed? Why are the targets not clear? Why is the team discouraged? These are questions that might arise when a project manager is analyzing the overall evaluation of a project. And these are the kinds of problems that need to be solved.
A brief introduction to Project Planning for business
Project planning, as a concept, is a part of the overall process of project management. It related to the use of specific schedules like for example the Gantt charts in an effort to plan and report the progress of a project. Up until a few years ago, project planning for business was done manually, usually by the project manager. Nowadays, most companies use project planning for business software to reduce time and make the processes more efficient.
Project planning for business involves pretty much any action that is taken during the project implementation. Every decision that is to be made, every task and budgetary resource that is to be allocated. It is determined in the project planning phase.
The plan of the project needs to be easy to understand and even easier to share with the member of the team. It does require a lot of revisions seeing as it can change multiple times during the implementation process. The worst project plan is a plan that never changes and is never discussed with the team.
Why use a project planning for business software?
Imagine a project that is meant to go one for months. A project that involves more than five employees and the goals if to bring in new product ideas for an IT company. The massive amount of information, if not used correctly, is going to get lost. All the good ideas, all the progress that will be made completely gone because a few papers were lost or because the company server broke down.
By using project management and project planning software, you are able to store and perfectly categorize all that data online. That way you can avoid losing any important information, keep track of your conversations and progress as well as future processes that need to be planned ahead.
As a project manager, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are going to plan the project. Or at least start with some important drafts that will be discussed with the team, before you have the final project in your hands.
In this article, we are going to give you a few tips on how you can get started to set up an efficient project plan.
Your plan is a map
A map needs to be clear. It needs to guide people to the right place without them losing their way. It needs to define the goals from the very beginning and clear the stages that need to be followed to the letter.
The stakeholders that will receive the plan need to be able to navigate through the project without effort. In other words the simpler the project plan, the better. We are of course not talking about the processes that need to be followed for the project to be completed. We are talking about shaping the plan in a way that will cater to the needs and goals.
It is important to talk to your team members, try to understand what they need from the plan and make sure that you will keep it as close to what they want as possible.
Clarify tasks and outcomes
The project will have tasks assigned to specific people. The tasks will be assigned based on their job position, their expertise and their preferred job on the team. Sometimes more than one person could work on the same tasks but that is not important in this case. Each team member needs to be clear about what they have to do for the project. That way they can set up their schedule and discuss changes before they proceed to the next step.
The outcomes of the project will come from the tasks. Each task could have smaller deliverables which will result in the final “product” of the project. These deliverables could be unique to a task or a combination of two tasks or more. The team members need to know which outcomes and deliverables they are responsible for.
Know the risks
There is no such thing as the perfect plan. All plans have risks. Some deliverables could be delayed. There could be budgetary problems that will result in the bad quality of the outcome of a task. Perhaps the project appears to be much more expensive than what you may originally have thought.
All these are potential risks that you need to be ready for. Of course, having a plan that will perfectly solve every single risk is impossible. At least in the planning stage. What you could do, however, is to allow time for brainstorming. The solution will come after thorough thinking and a lot of different minds working together to solve the problem. You might not have the solution when the problem appears but if you have the key components, the team members, you can find the solution in no time.
Which leads us to the next step.
This is a rather common is take that a lot of project managers make. They do not allocate time, in the project planning for business scheme, for discussion and brainstorming for anything other than the project’s strict processes.
What if a team member has an idea that could completely change a deliverable and make it better? What is a team member has a solution to a problem that is pestering the entire team for weeks? What is there are internal problems that are causing the risks to appear and you don’t know about them?
Talking to your team about the project and its evolution is important but talking to them about their ideas or the things that might “bother” them is a lot more important. After all, one of the risks that usually appears when working on team projects is miscommunication.
Milestones are important
Your list of deliverables and goals can act as a great guide for you to set your milestones. Milestones are great because they allow you to set up specific timeframes, monitor the process of the entire project and reward the team for their work and effort.
To set up the right milestones, you could use the SMART framework. SMART is one of the most well-known business acronyms that can help a business define its goals. According to SMART, a project needs to be:
- Specific: Clear, concise, and written in language anyone could understand.
- Measurable: Use numbers or quantitative language when appropriate. Avoid vague descriptions that leave success up to personal, subjective interpretation.
- Acceptable: Get buy-in from stakeholders on your goals, milestones, and deliverables.
- Realistic: Stretch goals are one thing, but don’t set goals that are impossible to achieve. It’s frustrating for your team and for your stakeholders, and might ultimately delay your project because accomplishing the impossible usually costs more and takes longer.
- Time-based: Set concrete deadlines. If you have to alter deadlines associated with your milestones, document when and why you made the change. Avoid stealth changes—or editing deadlines without notifying your team and relevant stakeholders.
Determine the Budget
Each milestone, each task, each action that is to be taken during the project implementation has a budget. That budget could or could not be flexible. The project plan needs to clarify that the budget from the very beginning. That way, the team members know exactly what their limits are and will not go overboard.
Sometimes lack of knowledge regarding the budget could result in the delay of the project and that is not optimal.
By assigning the budget you will also get the opportunity to look at the bigger picture regarding all the projects of your business. Some projects will need less budget than others. Perhaps certain processes will not require a budget at all. All these need to be defined, not to cause any misunderstandings and risks.
Report the progress
Depending on how long the project is going to last, you will need to set up specific times for reporting the progress of the tasks and the overall project. These reports need to meet their deadlines and they need to be specific to what the project manager will need to know regarding the project and its course.
Apart from the timeframe, you will also need to set up a specific pattern. You will need guidelines that will help the team members know exactly what kind of steps they need to take to provide you with an effective and detailed report.
There is nothing more stressing, for an employee than reporting findings and results. Make the process as easy for them as possible.
Start your Project
These seven steps are essential to start planning a project that will be easy to implement, efficient in its results and promising for the future of the company. Remember that all of the above will need to be revised over and over again. There is a chance that they will never have a specific identity.
You need to stay organized. You need to remember that proper communication is the key to a successful plan. Last but not least you need to remember that rewarding your team members could prove to be the most valuable factor for the success of the plan. Show them that you appreciate them. Show them that they are important parts of the project. Let them voice their opinion. A team that can collaborate well is a team that can produce the best results!